Support Staff for Family Practice

The right staff can make a measurable difference in patient experience, office morale and the family practice bottom line. When preparing to set up a family practice, it is important to determine who will be needed and what tasks they will be performing.

A small family practice can often operate with no more than one nurse and one office employee. With this method of management, tasks are less defined. Everyone pitches in to do whatever is needed at any given time. The physician is as involved in clinic maintenance as the supporting staff members are.

A larger, more complex family practice may require more support staff and a greater division of duties. With this method of operation, duties are more clearly defined and there is much less blurring between who and what.

Office Staff for Family Practice

Reception. Reception duties are a must. Someone should be responsible for greeting everyone who comes in the door. This person is often the one responsible for creating patient charts, setting appointments and collecting payment for services. In a small family practice, reception duties may be shared between one office person and one nurse position.
Coding and insurance. Unless the family practice is operating on a cash only basis, coding and insurance filing and follow up are vital. Incorrect coding can cost the practice money it deserves. The filing of insurance claims, getting pre-certification for procedures and verifying receipt of payment can be time consuming. Many family practice’s employ someone whose only duty is to manage claims and billing.

Medical Transcription. Medical transcription was once a costly process involving the hiring of someone specifically to transcribe all patient visits and other related dictation. New electronc family practice software has eliminated this position in many clinics. All data is entered onto computer as the patient visit takes place. A well chosen electronic medical record software can be one of the family practice’s best investments.

Office Management. The mid to large sized family practice often benefits from the presence of an office manager. The manager may be involved with every step from reception to billing or may oversee all divisions.

Smaller family practice setups may not require a dedicated office manager. Those considering hiring an office manager should decide how much support staff is going to be necessary. Office manager duties may consist strictly of overseeing staff and practice administration or may instead consist of performing a wide variety of duties from reception to billing to payroll.
Family practice staffing may require no more hiring than one general office staff member and one medical staff member. Large, complex family practices may hire an army of staff including separate individuals to handle appointment setting, reception, billing, coding, medical records, and more.

Services provided by the family practice will be one of the determining factors of how many staff members and what type of staffing will be required. One mistake that many medical clinics tend to make is hiring more staff when patient volume is up and letting staff go when patient volume is down.

Proper staffing and a system for handling everything from the moment patients enter the family practice until they walk back out the door can make it possible for fewer staff members to handle any amount of patient volume while maintaining quality of care, patient satisfaction and a healthy bottom line.