Guest Contributor: Ruth Peterman, CMPE – Practice Administrator
Want to talk about an adventure? Two years ago, I made the switch from medical operations manager to OMS administrator. I had no idea what to expect; but somehow, I expected more. I felt like I’d gone back in time. I had walked out of a highly organized, compliance-driven environment and into a world of outdated tech and unwritten rules.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps my experience may help you or other OMS admins bring your practice(s) into the future.
Right out of the gate, I faced a lot of challenges. One of the biggest was the lack of written policies and protocols. There were no training manuals to help me or other new employees learn how the office worked or what the rules were. If I had a question, I had to ask a doctor, pull a busy employee away from her work to teach me, or figure things out on my own.
My predecessor was not fond of computers, so things were outdated, to say the least. There were sticky notes, important information written on the insides of folders, and a few typed lists, but very few electronic backups. I had many long-term employees with decades of historical knowledge, but they only had their own notes to go by. Once again, there was little formal documentation of rules or protocols for how things should be done. New hires were in the same boat. With no formal training processes or adequate supervision, people were literally left to sink or swim. We needed to do better. We needed more.
As you can see, I had a bit of a rough start to my OMS journey. Everyone did their best; but something had to change, and I couldn’t do it alone. I made my case and was given the green light to restructure our employees and add clinical and clerical supervisors. Things began to turn around.
Together we were able to bring to life my vision for documenting all our processes and protocols for each position and task throughout the practice. The end result has been more consistency in training, in how tasks were performed by different employees at different locations. Employees and doctors alike welcomed the change as everyone was tired of the chaos and inconsistencies in training and procedure.
One of the biggest (and most important) issues we were able to directly impact after all was said and done was MISTAKES. Inconsistency in training and protocols brought mistakes that trickled down to every area of the office—mistakes that affected patient care and made us look bad with referring providers. Employees are human, and mistakes still happen occasionally; but we were able to significantly decrease the mistakes that were putting our reputation in jeopardy.
In the end, our new supervisors and team were happy to be a part of this adventure. They welcomed being a part of bringing order to the office and making a great practice even better. Getting policies in place and having things defined clearly and written down was truly time well spent. Written rules allow practices to train employees better, create more consistency in patient care, and improve the workflow in every area of their offices.
Do you struggle with any of these issues? Do you feel like you’re at a standstill with no one left to talk to? Don’t forget that as a SOMSA member you have so many excellent resources available for every OMS admin out there, especially on our comprehensive website. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, another fellow SOMSA member is always just a phone call away.