Instead, Dr. Vaughan convenes what he calls impromptu “micro meetings” that are shorter than 10 minutes long and focus on one particular issue. “If we have a clinic and the next patient isn’t coming for 20 minutes, I’ll turn to our nurses and say, ‘Let’s talk about our insurance authorization process.’”
Explore this issue:September 2016
When a larger issue or issues need to be discussed, Dr. Vaughan schedules a meeting and lets the staff know in advance what’s on the agenda. “Usually, they are more formal and the topics tend to be where there is an area of significant stress, gossip, or a staff member change,” he said. “If we need a new medical assistant, for example, I’ll put three points on an agenda and a different person will be asked about each point. My nurse practitioner can speak about what qualities we need in the new assistant, what background does this person bring, and what hours they should have. I’ll ask the other medical assistant we have what kind of person she wants to work for, while human resources will handle posting the job advertisement. Each person will handle a different part of the agenda.”
Expect staff people to offer ideas for solutions, rather than just come up with what is wrong. Asking them for ideas doesn’t mean you are promising to do what they suggest, but it gives them a voice, and you’ll be amazed what they come up with. —Carol Stryker
Tip 2: Hold Regular Meeting Days and Times
If your office is having ongoing staff meetings, perhaps once a week or once a month, they should be scheduled for a certain day and time, said Carol Stryker, the principal of Symbiotic Solutions in Houston. Her firm works with non-hospital-based physician offices and clinics to run their operations more effectively. Maintaining a regular day and time for the staff meeting makes it more difficult for physicians and staff to schedule things that interfere with meeting attendance.
Tip 3: Start on Time
Meetings must start without delay so that no one feels their time is wasted. Otherwise, “you are training people that showing up on time is not worth the effort,” said Stryker.
Tip 4: Pay Attention
Once the meeting begins, pay attention. Otherwise, your staff won’t be engaged. “If the doctor demonstrates that he or she thinks the meeting is important, the staff will believe it,” said Stryker. At one practice, Stryker said the physicians would all bring patient charts to each meeting and would read them during the meeting, which sent the wrong message to staff. “You are either present or not present at a meeting,” she said. Don’t multitask; leave the files out of the meeting.
Tip 5: Save Issues for the Meeting
When you have regular staff meetings with an agenda of what will be discussed, you don’t have to waste other time discussing solutions. “If an issue comes up during the workday, the doctor will either blow it off or will stop in his or her tracks and try to figure it out right then instead of going to see the next patient,” said Stryker. “If you have regular staff meetings, it is natural, appropriate, and productive to say, ‘Bring that up to the group along with ideas on how to make it better’ at the next staff meeting.”