11.13.09 Issue #401 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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How To Survive When Your Employee Leaves

Dr. Jake Black– Case Study #222

The telephone rings in the office of McKenzie Management.  Dr. Black is on the line, obviously anxious and unsure of where to start his conversation. “Hello. My name is Jake Black and my front desk person just turned in her notice today. I have no idea what she does up there or how she does it. What am I going to do?”

All employers have had a key employee leave. Some leave because of a personal relocation, others because of “better offers” and many because of a change in their family status.  And let’s not forget those that finally get on the doctor’s last nerve and he/she finally snaps and asks the employee to leave. None of these scenarios are pleasant but systems should be in place for the practice to continue without too many hiccups through the transition period to a new employee.

This article is intended to address a departing business employee. It is not to imply that the clinical team members are not key employees, as all team members are vital to the success of the practice. 

The “Must Have” Checklist
Dr. Black was fortunate because his business employee (he only had one) was leaving due to the relocation of her spouse, rather than due to other more unpleasant possible reasons for departures. This made the training of a replacement much more cordial and helpful for the new employee. However, Dr. Black realized that he knew nothing about the daily activities of the business area – he wasn’t even sure what practice management software he was using! Understanding that he had no knowledge of how his practice is managed, a checklist was created for the departing employee to complete prior to her last day:

  • All the pass-codes and log-ins for the computer, insurance websites, collection agencies, etc. that are used by the business person.
  • Written instructions on how to work all the various equipment in the business office, including the answer machine, printer/copier, scanner, etc. In conjunction with these, the repair contacts, suppliers for paper, toner, software support, etc.
  • A copy of all the stationery and other paper supplies that must be ordered periodically and where they are ordered from.
  • Computer back-up information if not performed by the doctor – external hard drive, off-site through the Internet, etc.

The “How To” Checklist
Now that Dr. Black is at least capable of starting his computer, calling the repairman, retrieving the messages from the answer machine, reordering his letterhead stationery and all the other tasks that will eventually need to take place, it is also important to have the protocols on how the various business procedures are performed:

  • Generate weekly statements
  • Generate insurance claims (e-claims and paper)
  • Manage the recall system
  • Manage the accounts receivables
  • Keep the patient records current (when to purge the inactive records)
  • Post payments
  • Make appointments
  • Run the reports to complete the monthly practice performance statistics
  • Print routing slips
  • Create a treatment plan from the computer

For an orderly and easy-to-read format, create a “form” for each of the above tasks and keep in a 3-ringed notebook, along with an example of each report when applicable.  Using the “Print Screen” option on your computer can also be very helpful when describing various menus and windows that must be completed.

Don’t get caught!
It was soon very obvious to Dr. Black that asking Susie (his business manager that was leaving) to prepare all this information for him prior to her departure was impossible during normal working hours, as her normal workday needed to be managed. Understanding the need for this information, he offered to reimburse her for the extra time that she spent. You can avoid getting caught by asking your existing business manager to create these two checklists as her working hours allows over the next two months.  Not because you are expecting her to leave (make sure that she knows this!) but as a “survival” technique in case of an emergency. Think of it like this, you create a computer back-up every day to save your valuable data. You won’t have any data to back up if you don’t know how to create the data in the first place!

As a side note, these checklists also make wonderful training tools should you find yourself needing to add additional business team members to your existing team.

A word about the clinical team
I know that I wasn’t going to discuss your survival when a clinical team member leaves, but I changed my mind!  Please ask your clinical coordinator to create the same “Must Have” checklist for all the contacts she has, as well as a “How To” protocol sheet for tray set-ups, sterilization, supply storage, inventory control and other various tasks that she performs daily, weekly and monthly. You will be glad you have it when the time comes to “survive.”

If you feel it would be helpful to invite a McKenzie Management Consultant into your practice to help you and your business team to establish these checklists so you will survive the inevitable, please contact us!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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