(866) TEAM-SOS

Posts for: July, 2014

By lynn@soshealthcaremanagement.com
July 16, 2014
Category: Staff Management
Tags: communication   job   Boss  

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with two good “bosses” – but not every employee is as lucky as I was. I’ve experienced the good and seen the bad. I refer specifically of those employers who want nothing to do with helping to guide/counsel/train their staff…yet demand very high, sometimes unrealistic expectations from them. They insist on perfection instead of excellence; make zero attempts to communicate, remain inflexible and persistently “manage” with power and control instead of guidance and leadership. Then they wonder why they have a revolving door of staff. Instead of looking inward to find solutions, a more common rationale is…“Good staff are hard to find in this area,”…yet, coincidentally, another podiatrist six blocks down seemed to have triumphed over that debatable barrier.

I started thinking of some of the more familiar good and bad “on screen” bosses that we’ve been exposed to. The good ones make you smile…George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Sheriff Andy Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show and how about Jack Warden’s character in “Big” - dancing on the floor piano with employee Tom Hanks? Who wouldn’t want to work for them? The bad bosses were bad in so many different ways…intolerable, mean, slimy, clueless…among them were Ebenezer Scrooge in a “Christmas Carol”, Dabney Coleman as Franklin Hart in “Nine to Five” and perhaps the most obnoxious space cadet boss, Bill Lumbergh, in the classic “Office Space.” “Yeeaahhhh, thaaaannnks.” Keep in mind that bad bosses are not limited to men. Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver’s characters in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Working Girl”, respectively were just as obsessed with power trips. Help me out…what other “good and/or bad” bosses from movies and TV fame can YOU think of? Which ones can you relate to? 

By lynn@soshealthcaremanagement.com
July 16, 2014
Category: Human Resources

Too often, I find there to be a huge misunderstanding about employee wage classification and so this month’s blog provides a very narrow look into FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) rules that affect you as an employer. FLSA Compliance is something you should take seriously. In 2008, the Department of Labor (DOL) recovered $220 million in back wages and employees are filing record number of lawsuits under state and federal wage and hour laws.

The rules tend to be a bit confusing; however, start by no longer referring to your employees as “salaried”or “hourly”because in doing so you might make certain inaccurate assumptions. Instead, the proper way to classify employees should be “exempt”or “non-exempt.”What’s the difference? A non-exempt position must be paid at least minimum wage on a salary, hourly, piece rate or commission basis and subject to the overtime rule while exempt status is reserved for TRUE office managers. I emphasize “true” because classification does not revolve around an employee’s title; rather, around their job duties and many “office managers” are not given the level of responsibility necessary to fit this job description. Just because a staff person is assigned the title “Office Manager” or is “salaried”, that does not necessarily qualify them for exemption. To clarify: an exempt employee must be salaried; however a salaried employee may be non-exempt. Non-exempt is the proper classification for the overwhelming majority of podiatric staff. 

Some employers assume that because their business is small, they are not covered by the rules of FLSA. Unlike most state and federal employment laws, the FLSA rules do not depend directly upon the number of employees. While proper exempt/non-exempt classification may seem vague, the repercussions and penalties for non-compliance are very real. Keep in mind too that non-exempt employees who volunteer to take work home, work through lunch, work overtime and waive OT pay for doing so; although tempting, is not legal.

Finally, please note that State law supersedes Federal, so e.g., in cases of OT and Comp Time, you should refer to your own state jurisdiction. Heed the warning. While these issues might not ever present a problem in the “harmonious” workplace, they could become a bone of serious contention in the event of a parting of ways.   

Download a free slide presentation created by the US Department of Labor that helps explain more about FLSA federal law at:   http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/presentation.ppt   

By lynn@soshealthcaremanagement.com
July 16, 2014
Category: Efficiency
Tags: stress   customer service   Schedule  

Delayed schedule. Irritated patients. Late workdays. Costly overtime. Disgruntled staff. Stress... You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that something is wrong. All these signs are the classic symptoms of poor scheduling, but that’s only one diagnosis. And sure, patients expectbackups… occasionally. However, when waiting becomes a repeat performance, with no effort to fix it, all that good customer service your practice offers to romance your patients goes out the door, along with the patient. Is there a reason for this? Of course there is. Things don’t just happen in a vacuum… they are the byproduct of our actions. Doctors say they want more efficiency in the office. However, without the willingness to embrace change when fundamental management remedies are suggested, it continues to be the same-ole, same-ole. (Re-enter delayed schedule. Irritated patients. Late workdays. Costly overtime. Disgruntled staff. STRESS.) I believe Einstein said it best. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”So why is it, that despite the fact that everyone (staff, patients, doctor) benefits from an on-time schedule, worthwhile solutions are glazed over with excuses and the bad habits continue to (ineffectively) run these practices?  

It’s impossible to summarize all the reasons why medical offices keep patients waiting in a one-page blog (there are many!), but since treating (unscheduled) multiple conditions is one of the biggest culprits, it gets top billing. Now, before you get defensive and go all “I do it because I care about my patients”on me, understand that this is not about caring for your patient. Of course you care. No one is disputing that. There is an effective way to handle this scenario and a not so effective way and unfortunately, more often, the not so effective way dictates protocol. What I mean by that is making exceptions for one person usually has a trickle-down effect. While it’s nice to make that “caring” exception for a patient, it is unfair to the others who are on time, also needing care and left sitting in the reception room, AKA “the waiting room”.

I’m confused by this “extra care” because I can tell you that (unless time allows), my dentist sticks to the one tooth I was scheduled for. Not two teeth and not, “Oh, BTW can I get a cleaning while I’m here?”Do I think he’s a bad dentist because he didn’t alter his schedule for me? And would I even consider going to another dentist for that reason? No, because the expectations for this appointment were met. I was taken promptly, received the attention and care I was scheduled for, the patient’s appointment before me did not spill over into mine and I left on time. If I had an additional problem that needed to be addressed, it really should have been MY responsibility to call in advance, explain it to the receptionist and have my appointment expanded or rescheduled if need be to allow time to treat multiple conditions. At the very least, I should expect to make the new, painful condition my priority at this visit and schedule another to replace my original appointment.

Of course emergencies do occur and must be addressed immediately, but not every (unscheduled) event treated as an emergency, really is…an emergency. Naturally, if time allows, special attention can be given to non-emergent conditions as well, however it’s important in this instance, to educate the patient that this may not always be the case or they will come to expect it every time.

Here’s the misconception. Blowing holes in your schedule for one or more patients doesn’t make you a hero, a better doctor, more likely to increase revenue or retain a patient. So, in order to keep flow in tact (and truly keep everyone happy), it’s sensible to hear and examine the patient’s new complaint and treat if it’s emergent or if time really does permit. Otherwise give them a patient-based response; “It’s nothing serious, Mrs. Jones but I’m glad you brought this to my attention. Here’s what we will do today to make you comfortable…I want you to take note of how that feels over the next couple days/week and before you leave today, see Sally at the front desk and have her schedule you for a visit so that we can give you the proper amount of time to follow up and more comprehensively exam and treat it.”

There is no denying that good customer service and patient care is what we all strive for, but not if it means stepping on one patient’s toes to accommodate another’s. Patients want to know that everyone is treated fairly and given the same respect. Again, there are many reasons why a schedule can take a nosedive and as I said at the onset, this is only one; a problematicone that has proven to cause unnecessary disruption. If you commit to making an effort to fix one problem at a time, I promise you…things will improve.