There are days when all *&%! seems to break loose inside an office and no one seems to be talking to anyone. Messages don’t get delivered. Agreements are made but not written. Orders or directions are given to one person but not everyone knows that she or he is now supposed to be doing such and such. Pieces of information are known to some and not to all. Chaos reigns!
A practice policy manual doesn’t exist and even if one does, it is probably not complete so that a new person could read it and know the exact rules and policies of the practice. So the new person creates extra, unnecessary work for everyone else for a while.
What systems can be put in place to make the office run as smooth as silk?
Systems and Structure are Everything!
Having good internal communications are so very key to the smooth operation of any business, even a very small one with only 2 people. Every person cannot be present when every communication is given to every other person in the practice. Obviously that is not practical. So what solutions are there?
- There are hard copy and soft copy log books for telephone messages. And even if one is written in hard copy and handed to (or put on the desk of) another person, there is still a retained copy showing the specifics of the message. If you use the hard copy system, there should be a date and who took the message and a good record of what was said. When the message is completely handled it should be noted in the log book, especially if it concerned a patient – so that there is a record that they were taken care of.
- If an order is given, it always works best if it given in writing. Many people fight having to take the time to write things, but if you just look at how much time will be wasted if the receiving person denies you ever giving that order or direction, or if they didn’t completely understand all that you said and then did something you didn’t want … all that trouble could have been saved by taking 2-3 minutes to write it down. If it concerns the whole team or a part of the team, then a copy should be given to everyone involved. When the order has been completely done, a short compliance note should be sent with the order attached in order to let the originator of the order that it was complied to. You might be a wise administrator to keep a copy of the original order so that you can follow up a little later on if you didn’t get the compliance report within the expected period of time.
- A policy manual that evolves week by week is a saviour when it comes to keeping the peace and having everyone in agreement and “on the same page.” And when new staff join the team, a policy manual can prevent a huge amount of disruption by having all protocols and job descriptions included so that the new person can quickly understand what the other team members are doing and exactly what is expected of the new person. When situations happen that you don’t ever wanted repeated, that should be written into the manual as to what happened and what policy will prevent it from happening again. Likewise, when something very positive happens in the practice from a new idea, that should also be recorded as the way things are done from now on. Thus, when the new employee starts, they can read and sign off on each page that they have read and understood it. This can prevent much chaos.
There are many additional systems that have been worked out but these were just to get you started off in the right direction.
An ounce of prevention can save a pound of cure!