Office Management and the Family Practice

The right office manager can help a family practice thrive. The wrong office manager can result in loss of clients and have everyone in the practice ready to commit homicide. How do you find the office manager who will be a blessing to the family practice instead of a curse?

Office Manager Duties

Before interviewing prospective office managers, consider what you need from them. What duties will the office manager be responsible for performing? What will be the office manager’s role in the family practice?

Office Manager as Administration

When the family practice is a large or complex one with a large number of support staff carrying out individual roles, the office manager’s main task is usually that of making sure everything runs smoothly and every task is covered. This is especially important when separate staff members are covering appointment setting, reception, billing, etc. If one person isn’t getting the job done or isn’t performing the job right, the whole system is affected.

In this type of family practice, the office manager keeps an eye on the pulse of the practice, making sure everything is working properly while handling any issues that arrive, from staff issues to disgruntled patients.

It is vital that the individual hired for this type position be able to multi-task, to work under pressure, to be able to mediate when problems arise, and to properly exercise their authority if necessary. The best office manager as administrative aide candidate can perform any task in the office if necessary and is capable of training, encouraging and
overseeing other office staff members.

Some office managers handle payroll and other financial duties for the family practice. If this will be the case, the potential office manager should have experience in payroll and the tax issues that affect operating a family practice.
Risk management is another task the family practice office manager must administer. Keeping up with applicable local, state and federal laws, taxes and regulations and maintaining family practice compliance is part of the job. Insurance and legal issues such as malpractice must be monitored.

Office Manager as Support Staff

In the small family practice, the office manager may be the only staff member aside from medical staff. In this situation, the office manager fills every business office duty, from reception to accounting and payment of taxes.

This type of office manager is well rounded, able to multi-task and comfortable both with computer related duties and tasks
involving interaction with patients. From greeting patients and others who come through the front door to signing for equipment that comes in through the delivery door, this type of family practice office manager can handle any situation that arises.

Finance and Family Practice Management

Family practice financial duties including accounts payable/receivable, payroll and the budget may be administered by the office manager or the office bookkeeper. Practice administration is often handled by the office manager. If the office manager is not performing financial duties, he/she is responsible for overseeing those who do. Again, the size of the family practice is usually the first consideration when deciding who to assign financial related duties to.

Human Resources and Family Practice Management

Hiring and dismissing staff, overseeing staff activity, creating employee manuals, managing employee benefits, employee files and employee accomplishment is usually handled by the family practice office manager.

Marketing and Family Practice Management

Office managers, in the absence of a dedicated marketing manager, may perform all tasks related to advertising, community relations and building the practice.

Qualifications of the Family Practice Office Management Candidate

Specific qualifications usually vary in accordance with the size and complexity of the family practice and the expectation of the physicians involved.

A college degree is usually a prerequisite. Certification as a medical office manager is a plus. Certification usually guarantees a certain amount of training in the required skills and tasks. In some cases, practical experience is as valuable as a degree.

Once the expected duties have been determined, along with desired qualifications, the search for a family practice office manager can begin. If using a medical staffing agency, it’s possible to have the agency interview potential candidates and refer only those who meet select criteria.

The right family practice office manager keeps the practice running smoothly. Choosing the right candidate is a decision that should be made with careful consideration.

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