Improve Your Language Skills and Improve Your Chances for Success

Lea Chatham March 4th, 2015

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Did you know you can set up your day to have a quick opportunity to improve yourself? One of the nicest things about the Internet is the opportunity to learn, and improving your language is going to make a difference in your career.

Here’s why language is important: the things you write online stay there. The impression you make with your speech and writing doesn’t fade too fast, either. If you are consistently using language the way that “everybody” uses language online, then you are automatically closing the street to opportunity.

I like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips because they are funny, memorable, and short. You may prefer another source, and there are certainly plenty out there. I also use the Gregg’s Reference Manual. It’s the bible for grammar geeks. What you need is a regular reminder of common mistakes and how to avoid those mistakes that you will enjoy reading. I’m always surprised at the things I learn. Something new every day!

That small, daily dose of language skills is a regular reminder of the importance of language. It might not seem like much, but the proper use of language moves you past barriers that keep your career from flourishing. It might be true that a top executive dictates letters to a secretary instead of writing them personally, but it’s also true that the executive still has to use language competently.

Learning a little every day is part of being a leader. Looking for life-long learning opportunities keeps your brain active and your attitude flexible for the challenges of being an influence both today and in the future. If your language skills are inadequate, you may have the greatest ideas in the world, but you can’t communicate those ideas very well. Tweet this Kareo story

Adding something like a daily grammar feature takes less than five minutes to read and enables a lifetime of opportunity. It also improves how you are seen by your boss, your coworkers, and the patients you serve. It’s an easy way to improve your own prospects and improve patient satisfaction.

For more ideas on how to improve the patient experience, download 10 Ways to Engage Patients.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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5 Tips for Effectively Managing Staff Conflict

Lea Chatham March 3rd, 2015

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Tweet this Kareo StoryBy Cheryl Bisera

When you experience conflict with an outside source like a patient, a payer, or the hospital you can turn to colleagues, physician owners, and even staff for support and to debrief with afterward. It may even feel like ‘us against the world’ sometimes; sharing small victories together can build a stronger team spirit. However, when the conflict comes from within the practice, it threatens to break down all that you’ve worked so hard to build. Practice leaders are often put in sticky situations trying to keep everyone on board and tempers from flaring.

Unresolved conflict can cause anxiety and angst in your practice; staff performance and cooperation is reduced, morale begins to plummet and the patient experience is compromised. To navigate through staff conflict successfully, remember these tried-and-true tips: Tweet this Kareo story

 

  1. Take a realistic lay of the land: This means accepting that there will likely be two-sided compromise in order to find a realistic solution. Help the opposition to understand your perspective as you seek to understand how they arrived at their position.
  2. Dig deep: Often some of the information you need to understand in order to propose creative and realistic solutions is not being presented. By asking open-ended questions and doing a lot of listening and probing you can find out what people really want, what’s really bugging them and what might be negotiable after all.
  3. Don’t lose sight of the facts: It can sometimes get tricky to stay impartial and business-minded while trying to balance being a great place to work. We all want a flexible, friendly and supportive work environment but when practice administrators are drawn into emotional stories they can make poor decisions with unforeseen consequences. Protect your practice and your emotions by being reasonable while keeping facts in the forefront. Seek comparable data from sources like Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Professional Association of Health Care Office Managers (PAHCOM), or local and specialty associations. Doing so will keep you objective and making wise decisions.
  4. Mission matters: To keep your practice on course, revisit your practice mission, goals and strategic plan. These tools will guide you in making decisions and finding solutions for opposing viewpoints by prioritizing overall goals. If you don’t have a practice mission or need to revise it so that it’s applicable, make this a priority for 2015 and call in an expert if needed.
  5. Remain Respectful: It’s not always easy to keep language and actions respectful but it’s crucial to making progress and remaining at the top of your practice game. This means no ‘silent treatment’, name calling, accusatory or inflammatory language. It also means leaders communicate clearly with staff about ‘next steps’. Take on a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect between any members of the practice and you’ll have an environment conducive to conflict resolution.

Acknowledging conflict is not solving it. As hard as it is to take the time and resources necessary to properly tackle an in-practice issue of this nature, ignoring it or over-reacting will only make it worse and cost you more in the end. It could cost you in turnover, a distrustful practice culture and a compromised patient service among other things.

If you find the situation to be unsolvable by those within the practice, you can call in an expert chosen by the nature of the conflict, accountant, conflict negotiator or practice management consultant. Don’t let a stalemate cause future damage, keep moving forward – you got this!

About the Author

Cheryl Bisera photoCheryl Bisera is a consultant, author and speaker with extensive experience in marketing and business promotion that spans more than ten years in which she worked with professionals to strengthen their position in the marketplace. She is the founder of Cheryl Bisera Consulting, a California-based image development and marketing company that focuses on the healthcare industry and author of the book, The Patient-Centered Payoff. Cheryl has spoken for regional medical management organizations, conducted customer-service workshops, and written numerous articles for publications such as KevinMD, Physician Magazine, and the Journal of Medical Practice Management.

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6 Steps to Building a Great Medical Practice Work Culture

Lea Chatham February 18th, 2015

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Tweet this Kareo StoryWe’ve all seen how a great office work culture can make a company not only fun to work for but draw more business too. Zappos did it. Google did it. But, they are huge, right.

Companies like that may have the advantage of a large budget, but even a small medical practice can create an office culture to rival the big boys, one where employees love to come to work and that enjoyment reflects in all of their patient interactions.

Just follow these 6 steps to build a great medical practice work culture. Tweet this Kareo story

  1.  Define your practice: First, decide what type of practice and work culture you want. Envision desired interactions between your staff and patients. How do you want your staff to view your practice and their jobs. Once you know what you want for your practice, have a group meeting. Explain your goals so that everyone can work toward the same objective.
  2. Hire people who complement the work culture you want to build: Yes, skills are important, but when hiring new staff members, you also have to look at how the person will fit into the overall culture you are trying to build. Will their attitude and personality bring other staff members together or create a division in your practice.
  3. Communicate: Always encourage open lines of communication with your staff. Take time to ask them what they do and don’t like about their jobs, and be responsive. Improve where you can, and if there is a problem area that can’t be changed, be open and clear about why. When there are things your staff likes, focus even more effort there to build on your success.
  4. Celebrate: To bring your staff closer together, celebrate! Birthdays, holidays, and goal achievements are all opportunities to make things fun and memorable. Don’t just do the same old cake and song routine. For a birthday, order balloons to be delivered with a singing telegram. Have a pumpkin carving contest for your Halloween party. Hide Easter eggs around the office with rewards like a massage or an extra day off for your staff to find. For Christmas, what about an ugly holiday sweater contest?
  5. Reward success but learn from failure: Praise successes, and say thank you as often as possible to your staff for keeping your practice running smoothly. And, just as important, treat any failures or bumps in the road as a learning experience. By accepting failure as part of the learning curve, you signal to your staff that you are open to new ideas, making them more likely to try new things to help improve your practice.
  6. Take it out of the office: Finally, remember that a great office work culture doesn’t end at work. Making time for your staff to get together outside of the office for things like a picnic, a Christmas party, or even a quick lunch promotes bonding and increases their ability to work through problems as a team.

Building a great medical practice work culture takes time, but it can be a fun experience and a way to increase employee satisfaction and retention, ultimately improving patient interactions and your bottom line. For other strategies to improve the patient experience, download 10 Powerful Ways to Engage Patients.

About the Author

Adria Schmedthorst is a writer focusing on the medical device, technology, software, and healthcare industries. Adria is the founder of AMS Copy and a healthcare professional herself with more than 10 years in practice. She now uses her knowledge of the industry to help companies achieve their goals of writing content that speaks to the hearts and minds of medical professionals. She has been featured in blogs, written articles, and other publications for the industry, and ghostwritten books for doctors in both the United States and Australia.

 

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Do You Have the Skills to Be a Manager?

Lea Chatham February 3rd, 2015

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Most managers are regular employees who get promoted, but often that promotion comes with the realization that while you are great at your job you lack some managerial skills. It’s different being a manager, but there are some things you can work on now to help when that promotion comes.

These skills are actually good to learn no matter what your position is. For instance, a biller needs to “act with authority” when explaining a patient’s payment responsibility — Any hesitation or lack of confidence when you are explaining the amount, the due date, or your practice policies doesn’t have the same level of authority as, “Thank you for calling. I am looking at your account now. You currently owe a balance of $250 that was due on January 30. I can take a credit over the phone now to take care of this or send you a link to our online billpay.”

If you want to be ready to take on the role of billing manager or practice manager, start learning what you need to knowTweet this Kareo story

A Checklist of Skills to Learn

  • Learn how to be comfortable having difficult conversations — all managers have to be able to do this because sweeping problems under the rug doesn’t make them go away.
  • Learn how to give feedback the right way — tell people when they are doing a good job, and if something is wrong, say so clearly without hinting around while providing a few reasonable suggestions.
  • Learn how to clarify goals — work with the physicians and/or practice owners to establish what practical benchmarks are being looked for so everyone can be on the same page. If you can’t measure it, you can’t all reach it.
  • Learn how to act with authority — if the decision is based on policy, say so. If you want someone to do something, don’t make it sound like an option.
  • Learn how to separate relationships from work performance — sooner or later a manager has to confront a lousy employee and fire them even if that employee is a friend. This is one of the hardest things managers face.

One of the things that will be examined closely when your name comes up as a potential manager is your resume. If you aren’t confident your resume is ready for that examination, seek out professional feedback and concrete suggestions for making sure you are ready for the next step in your career.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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7 Experts Offer Tips to Set and Keep Your 2015 Resolutions

Lea Chatham December 31st, 2014

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Tweet this Kareo storyEveryone makes New Year’s resolutions, and everyone finds it hard to keep them as the months wear on. It doesn’t really matter if they are goals you set for your business or for yourself, change is challenging. So, seven practice management and healthcare experts offer their best tips for setting and keeping your medical practice resolutions to make 2015 a successful year. Tweet this Kareo story

  1. Mary Pat Whaley: Help staff understand the change and then use scripts and role play to help staff prepare. For example, if you resolve to get a handle on your front-end patient collections, make patient collections an agenda topic at every staff meeting, and help staff to understand how critical patient collections are to the survival of the practice. Have staff write down what patients say about not wanting to pay at time of service and develop a script for replies, then have staff role play the objections and answers.
  2. Judy Capko: Set monthly milestones and review them at the monthly meetings. It builds in reasonable accountability.
  3. Rochelle Glassman: Goals should have been set and agreed to during the last quarter of 2014 so that everybody is on board. Bonus structures should have been developed and put in writing linked to key performance indicators (KPI’s) that relate to the goals. Staff and management should have signed off and agreed to goals and bonuses. Then, the manager or owner should meet with staff regularly to check in on goals and KPIs and keep everyone accountable and on track.
  4. Cheryl Bisera:  Use hard data to inform your goals, then set dates and build accountability into your calendar. In other words, pull data from your practice so you have a baseline to grow from. Say for instance that you want to collect more over-the-counter patient portions—you have to know your baseline, like an average daily percent of patient portion that’s being collected. Set goals from there.
  5. Audrey McLaughlin: Have the physicians or management make the goals (with staff input) and then post them, maybe in a break room, so they are easily seen and people feel accountable for progress.
  6. Kathy Young: When I create my resolutions or my new year goals I do two things:  set up a deadline with personal rewards or penalties and I get an accountability person to help me stay accountable to my goal.
  7. Lisa Eramo: When establishing any type of goal, you need to identify clear and manageable steps that will help you attain that goal. Simply establishing the goal without thinking about how you will achieve it will likely set you up for failure. Write down the steps that will help you succeed. Include deadlines by which you hope to achieve each of these steps. Identifying—and surpassing—each of the steps and ‘mini-goals’ along the way will also make you feel as though you are accomplishing something. For example, if you want to reduce its denials by 50%, this won’t happen overnight. Identify the factors that affect denials (e.g., insufficient documentation, incorrect coding, lack of medical necessity, etc.). Set goals each month. One goal might be to identify your top 5 reasons for denials. Another might be to ensure you have updated contact information for each payer and a specific individual to whom you can pose questions.

Last but not least, to achieve your goals, you might need to make some changes like upgrading or integrating your current medical practice technology. Be sure to give yourself the time you need to find the right solutions and implement them effectively.

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How to Handle Not Getting a Raise

Lea Chatham November 25th, 2014

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6000911_57260_1_14087535_300-300x200By Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

OK first off…even though the economy is improving, many businesses are still wary, and a lot of people aren’t getting raises, so it’s not just you. In healthcare, specifically, practices have concerns about changes in reimbursement, the cost of ICD-10, and coming penalties from CMS in 2015. The one thing you should absolutely NOT do is get in a snit and go storming out of your boss’s office. That will do nothing for your next evaluation, your next shot at a raise, or your standing at the practice.

You do, however, have the right to know why your raise was turned down, and there might be a number of different reasons:

  1. Company finances. With things being what they are in healthcare, there’s a real good chance that this is going to be the case. And if they tell you that, there’s a real good chance that they are being honest with you, especially if nobody else in the practice is seeing a raise. If that’s the case, there’s not much that you can do but accept it, get over it, and move on. As the economy continues to improve so will your chances of you raise down the road.
  2. Poor timing. Some healthcare businesses are more seasonal that others. It may not be the right time. Or, it may be that a recent large investment in the practice makes it difficult to invest in raises today. If that’s the case, once again, there’s not much you can do about it. Of course, that doesn’t do you much good if your own expenses are going up, your spouse lost a job or your kids need braces. Discuss the possibility of overtime or incentive pay. Some practices are offering incentives to staff who increase appointments through recall programs or increase patient collections. Unfortunately, if the practice is feeling the pinch (as in the above scenario) they may also be cutting back on bonuses, overtime, and incentives to scale back on payroll expenses. So…if you’re going to have to wait until the next quarter, next year, or next evaluation (and overtime isn’t an option) your best move is going to be to keep the nose to the grindstone and do the absolute best job you can manage so that when the time comes, you’ll get that raise after all!
  3. Poor performance. If your raise was declined due to performance issues, this is when you need to be proactive, stand on your own two feet and find out the specifics. Chances are you’re going to find this out when it’s evaluation time anyway, but regardless, ask your manager what areas need to be improved. Find out where your weak points are, and do your dead level best to improve on them. Or, your alternative might be to start looking for another job elsewhere, with better pay and better opportunities. But a word to the wise here: if you’re moving in that direction, keep it to yourself. Nothing can sabotage your future quicker than making it known that you’re thinking about moving on.

It can be hard when you don’t get a raise you expected, but the reasons may be valid.Tweet this Kareo story
It may also be an opportunity for you to bring new ideas and challenge yourself. Suggesting incentives for employees based on certain performance measures like increasing appointments is one way. Another way is to take advantage of educational opportunities to grow in your field. There are many free programs out there than can help you excel at your work.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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3 Ways Clutter Can Affect Your Success

Lea Chatham October 29th, 2014

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1950409800_01d5a2e270_zBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Clutter really does affect your success: there have been studies that prove it impacts the way employers and coworkers view your ability to do your job. Forbes ran an article called “The Dangers Of A Messy Desk” where a study clearly showed that co-workers judge other’s work habits by their cleanliness, and Office Max did a similar study with similar results.

 

Here are three ways that those piles on your desk bring your professional success to a halt:Tweet this Kareo story

  1. You lose important information. The argument that it has to be in your view in order for you to remember to do it loses its power when you stop seeing the item that is in front of you. Honestly, what important piece of paper have you frantically looked for in the past few months?
  2. You get overwhelmed. How many times have you said, “I can’t deal with that right now, I’ll get to it later”? How many times did you actually get to it and do it the way you should have?
  3. You look inefficient. People assume that you are just like your work area: overwhelmed by piles of papers and stuff while you stop seeing what’s in front of you and lose important information.

This isn’t just a workplace problem. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families came out with a book on our clutter culture in America that is kind of fascinating, appalling, and convicting all at the same time. But we don’t have to be handcuffed by our clutter habits!

Get real and start small. Take ten or fifteen minutes (set the timer) and work on one pile…and stop at the end of that time. Do this every day and you will begin to see a big difference. There’s all sorts of decluttering advice out there, but the big thing is doing it; if you wait until you have time to do it all, you probably never will.

Take a picture of your desk, cubicle, office, or work area, and look at it. Be honest, now. What would you think if that were a coworker’s space? If you were the boss, would you want that person working for you? If you like the way it looks, then maintain it. If you don’t like the way it looks, you have the ability to change it – a little at a time.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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The 9 Essential Questions to Ask a Potential Practice Manager

Lea Chatham October 28th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Lisa A. Eramo

Twenty or more years ago, hiring a practice manager wasn’t necessarily a difficult task. It often meant simply looking for someone with strong organizational and filing skills and perhaps clerical experience.

Today, it’s a different story.

Today’s practice mangers wear many hats. In addition to being operational directors, they often serve not only as human resources managers, but also as financial officers, information technology consultants, marketing gurus, and billing/documentation experts. This is particularly true for those working in smaller practices or for solo practitioners. Practice managers in these settings have been—and always will be—a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak.

Philip L. Dickey, MPH, PHR, HR services director/partner at DoctorsManagement, LLC, a consulting firm in Knoxville, TN says the role of practice manger has evolved over time and continues to expand to include a much more technical and diverse skillset. This is due, in part, to increasingly complex governmental regulations such as PQRS and Meaningful Use. Practice managers often oversee the day-to-day operations of a practice while also helping physicians meet demanding regulatory requirements and compliance.

Dickey provides insight into the questions physicians should consider when hiring someone for the critical role of practice manager. Tweet this Kareo story

  1. What training and experience does the individual have? Although higher education is not a requirement, Dickey says a bachelor’s degree in health services or health administration, for example, can be helpful. More importantly, though, is the individual’s actual experience working in a medical setting. “If they have come up through the ranks and have a proven track record of being successful as a practice manager, well, in my opinion, that’s just as good [as education],” he says.
  2. What coding/billing experience does the individual have? Coding is becoming increasingly important in physician practices, not only for reimbursement but also for quality ratings, audits, and more. As the industry transitions to ICD-10, physicians must ensure that they hire a practice manager who has knowledge of coding or who isn’t afraid to learn more, says Dickey. Also look for someone who can read/interpret financial statements, negotiate favorable contracts with payers, run detailed financial and productivity-related reports, and work closely with the practice’s accountant, he adds.
  3. How does the individual relate to physicians? Can the individual communicate effectively and respectfully with physicians? In smaller practices, this question is especially important because the practice manager has much more direct contact with physicians and other staff members, says Dickey. A strong practice manager should be able to advocate for change within the practice, when necessary, and engage in productive dialogue with physicians at all times.
  4. How polished are the individual’s interpersonal skills? Interpersonal skills are one of the most important traits that a practice manager must possess. He or she must be able to communicate effectively with other staff members as well as patients. The individual should possess a customer service-oriented mindset and feel comfortable answering patients’ questions and making patients feel comfortable.
  5. Does the individual enjoy working on a team? Smaller practices should hire someone who doesn’t mind being what Dickey calls a “working manager”—that is, someone who is willing to pitch in and ‘roll up their sleeves,’ when necessary. When working in a smaller practice, the practice manager should be open to cross-training so that he or she understands each role within the practice and can help out in the event that other staff members are on vacation, out sick, or resign unexpectedly.
  6. What leadership experience does the individual possess? Is he or she able to garner respect from others? In what other leadership roles has the individual served? What did he or she enjoy most about those roles? What did he or she enjoy least? Leadership experience is important because it denotes an individual’s ability to effect change within the practice and lead important initiatives such as an EHR implementation or the transition to ICD-10. In addition to being a leader, Dickey says practices should look for someone who is ethical and perseverant. Candidates should be able to articulate why these adjectives pertain to them as well.
  7. How does the individual handle conflict? Conflict within a practice setting is bound to occur whether it’s disagreement about a particular vendor to choose, how to address negative patient feedback, how to handle a dispute between employees, or a variety of other reasons. An effective practice manager should be able to address conflict directly and in a professional and respectful manner.
  8. What’s the individual’s comfort level working with technology? Today’s practice managers often oversee the entire EHR implementation, including choosing a vendor and working with that vendor to deploy the application. Practice managers also often choose and implement practice management software. If the practice manger is comfortable with using technology him or herself, he or she can also have a positive influence on physicians, making them comfortable with using it as well, says Dickey. “A practice manager is an IT person to some extent. They have to become knowledgeable about what kind of system they need and which ones are best. It’s a substantial investment of money and time for the practice,” he adds. Technology also includes Web sites and social media. Practice managers should feel comfortable working with web designers to produce content for the practice’s website, and they should also have some baseline knowledge of how to use social media to promote the practice.  As practices implement EHRs with patient portals, the practice manager should be able to answer questions and help patients navigate this technology as well.
  9. What other skills and experience can the individual bring to the table? At a minimum, practice managers should have strong organizational skills and experience working with Word and Excel. EHR experience is a plus. Some practices may also find it beneficial to hire someone who has experience working as part of an Accountable Care Organization if that’s an avenue that the practice is exploring.

Ultimately, physicians must assess whether the individual has the right mix of skills, knowledge, and personality. Don’t hesitate to wait for the right candidate, says Dickey. If the pool of candidates is limited, consider expanding the search beyond those who have experience working in a medical setting. For example, those who are business savvy or who may have been successful entrepreneurs in the past could become excellent practice managers with just the type of drive and confidence that a practice needs, he adds.

About the Author

LisaEramofreelanceLisa A. Eramo is a freelance writer/editor specializing in health information management, medical coding, and healthcare regulatory topics. She began her healthcare career as a referral specialist for a well-known cancer center. Lisa went on to work for several years at a healthcare publishing company. She regularly contributes to healthcare publications, websites, and blogs, including the AHIMA Journal and AHIMA Advantage. Her focus areas are medical coding, and ICD-10 in particular, clinical documentation improvement, and healthcare quality/efficiency.

 

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October Kareo Newsletter Takes a Look at Social Media for Physicians

Lea Chatham October 9th, 2014

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The October edition of the Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter takes a look at using LinkedIn, some best practices for work life balance and some handy tools to improve your medical billing. The newsletter also provides a chance to discover upcoming events, news, and resources from Kareo. Plus, you’ll learn about how to register for our upcoming free educational webinar, Define Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach, presented by physician social media expert Kevin Pho, MD. Read all this and more now!Tweet this Kareo story

October Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter

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Why I Recommend LinkedIn to Physicians by Kevin Pho, MD

Lea Chatham October 8th, 2014

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LinkedInBy Kevin Pho, MD

When I talk to physicians about dipping their toes into the social media waters, I advise starting with LinkedIn. Spend about 45 minutes or so and create a LinkedIn profile, which is essentially a digital translation of your CV. LinkedIn profiles get ranked highest among the social media platforms, and can push down the influence of negative news stories or physician rating sites.

Howard Luks is a social media thought leader, and whose opinion I respect tremendously. He wrote an insightful piece explaining why LinkedIn may not be right for doctors:

“As a physician on LinkedIn, not only do you have a virtual “please sell to me” sign on your forehead, most will perceive their presence on LinkedIn as a huge waste of time. Unless you are an aspiring entrepreneur, etc. you will find that the connections you make on LinkedIn are weak at best. In addition, while your patients are looking you up online, for the most part they are not looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

He goes on to suggest doctors spend their time on physician rating sites like Vitals or Healthgrades, Google+, or Yelp.

When it comes to establishing an online reputation, there are essentially two ways of doing it.Tweet this Kareo story

  1. “claiming” a profile on an existing physician rating site
  2. creating your own online presence, either with a website or through a social media platform

While I generally recommend the second approach of proactively defining yourself with social media, the first option of utilizing existing sites is viable.

First, much of the information in Vitals or Healthgrades is inaccurate, and can lead to the so-called Google Maps problem, where Google may use the information on these sites.

Second, physicians can leverage the high search engine visibility that these sites generally garner.

The downside of this approach is that these sites are for-profit and generally don’t have physicians’ best interests at heart.  Their physician profile pages are littered with ads, which can subtly imply a physician’s endorsement.

Also, consider the terms of service of one of these sites, which are heavily skewed against the doctor:

“You acknowledge that your Physician-Provided Material may be used without restriction for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without any compensation or obligation to you.”

Because of those reasons, I prefer doctors create social media profiles instead, where they have more control over how their online identity is controlled and presented.

Howard also recommends Google+ and Google Places for Business. However, there is more friction in taking this approach, namely the cumbersome way Google verifies your business address. If this can be overcome, this does indeed have the highest search engine impact, as seen below:

kevin-pho LinkedIn

But any friction whatsoever prevents the majority of physicians from defining themselves online. From talking to doctors across the country, many are petrified of taking even minimal steps to be visible online.

Which brings us back to LinkedIn.

While it isn’t perfect for the reasons Howard mentioned, LinkedIn is a low-threat, low-resource, high-yield action.

I acknowledge that there are tradeoffs involved, and after considering those, continue to recommend it as a reasonable first step to establish a physician’s online reputation.

This piece originally appeared on KevinMD.com. For more tips an strategies from Kevin Pho, register now for his upcoming free webinar, Defining Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach.

About the Author

Kevin Pho for Health LeadersKevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is on the editorial board of contributors, USA Today, and is founder and editor, KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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