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Today's Practice | Jan 2013

Responsibilities of the Office Staff

Every staff member plays an important role in the overall success of a practice.

To build a successful and profitable organization, a commitment must be made to exceed expectations by providing consumers with up-to-date services delivered by highly trained, dedicated professionals. In a health care organization, good leadership is crucial to success, but the make-up of the staff and each member’s individual responsibilities also play significant parts. Ophthalmologists need an office staff that works efficiently, and frequent verification of the staff’s performance is mandatory, as it is essential to maintaining productivity, managing office efficiencies, and assuring cost-effective care.

The key competencies of staff include teamwork, flexibility, reliability, accuracy, problem-solving skills, verbal and written communication skills, work management and prioritizing skills, organization and planning skills, and special attention to detail. A clinic manager must create a list of processes and responsibilities, and the staff must be ready to perform these duties with excellence, including answering telephones, collecting cash and copayments from patients, and scheduling follow-ups and appointment recalls. This article details some of the main responsibilities of the office staff of a busy eye clinic and highlights how employees contribute to the success of the practice as a whole (see Detailed Responsibilities of Integral Positions).

Answering Phones

Potential or existing patients should never be required to wait a long time before someone in the office picks up the telephone. Therefore, every staff member, regardless of his or her individual position, can and should answer the telephone, especially during peak call times.

At Marques Eye Institute, our rule is that the telephone must be answered on the first ring so that the patient feels well assisted and perceives him- or herself as important to our clinic. Promptly addressing the patient’s individual needs makes a difference in his or her overall experience.

EMR and Software Management

We also use electronic medical record (EMR) software to register all patient information. Our receptionists are well trained to use the system for scheduling, and our doctors also use it to register technical information. Our ophthalmology-specific program provides access to information for the staff and physicians simultaneously.

The EMR system can also be remotely accessed online by the doctors, providing information about appointments and useful surgical data. This eliminates the surgeon’s need to carry print files for cases in which the surgeries are to be performed in different hospitals.

Another advantage of this EMR system is its capability to send automatic e-mails to patients, reminding them of the day and time of their appointments. This management software is an important tool that provides useful information, such as the registration of all exams that have been completed, allowing the manager to collect all these data and view patient treatment schedules.

Eye Class

The patient is our main focus at Marques Eye Institute. Therefore, we have implemented a personalized eye care program, Eye Class, that leads to the delivery of highly scientific and technological customized treatments, resulting in safe and quick results. The Eye Class is a customized treatment offered to patients and the result of a cross-training system for the whole staff.

An overriding goal of the program is to maintain a positive and efficient environment in which all employees, including the surgeons, are responsible for their duties and complete them in a systematic, time-efficient manner. The combination of skills, attributes, and behaviors results in competency that is directly related to successful performance. These factors are important for all staff members, regardless of occupation, function, or level.

Maintaining the Practice Website

The practice website is an important tool for patients to obtain information about the clinic. Therefore, we have developed a website that provides everything the patient needs, including a page that allows patients to make an appointment; the office address, directions, and telephone number; the days and hours for scheduling; an e-mail contact; the doctors’ curriculum vitae; exams and new technologies available; and frequently asked questions. Also included are patient testimonials, which can be helpful for patients who are afraid of undergoing a specific procedure. It is important to actively maintain the practice website so that patients are provided with up-to-date information.

Conclusion

Each patient must be assisted in a fast and efficient manner, so every member of the staff must be well trained to perform his or her function with a high level of success and competency. It is this superior level of quality that we keep in mind day after day in our practice at the Marques Eye Institute.

Roberta Villano is the Administrator of Marques Eye Institute in São Paulo, Brazil. She may be reached at e-mail: roberta.villano@marqueseye.com.br.

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