Monday, February 3, 2014

Stand-ins Can Save the Day —Temporary Management Help in the Medical Practice

Temporary Management in Medical Practice
Facing an extended search for professional management, an increasing number of medical practices are turning to interim administrators to bridge the gap between “permanent” hires. This strategy relieves the pressure to fill the position quickly, keeps the practice on course, and brings an objective outsider’s observations and advice.

In a temporary situation, you can afford to “hire up”—actually hiring a better-trained and more experienced veteran, because you don’t have to make a long-term commitment to the higher compensation required to retain this level of help.
Look for seasoned executives who specialize in evaluation and change management. Plan on paying extra salary to compensate for health coverage and retirement, as well as reimbursement for housing and travel to return home every other weekend.

Interim administrators can also provide the additional benefit of assisting in the search for the permanent manager and assist in his or her orientation.

There’s a growing supply of senior physician practice administrators out there who are making themselves available for temporary assignments. These professionals often have advanced degrees and decades of experience, but for various reasons have decided against pursuing a permanent position themselves.

For a practice that normally couldn’t afford a top-level administrator, this scenario can provide a real opportunity to improve practice operations in a relatively short period of time—if you make the most of it. Here’s how:

  • Hire the right person. Get a highly experienced professional with excellent references. He or she must be highly flexible, results-oriented, and an expert in change management. This isn’t a job for a long-term, relationship-building management style. You’ll do well to find someone unafraid to question everything, interrupt unhealthy processes, and let people go if necessary.
  • Don’t be stingy. Don’t give away the store, but remember that you “get what you pay for.” (At least, you almost never get what you don’t pay for.) If you want to attract the kind of expertise that can make a difference in your practice, offer a generous package that includes salary that allows the interim staffer to fund his or her own fringe benefits. It’s become standard for the practice to provide temporary housing and an allowance for travel home every other weekend.
  • Outline a plan. Estimate the assignment length, and determine priorities and appropriate goals for the interim administrator. Commit the plan to paper, and schedule periodic review sessions to measure progress. The time with this expert is limited, so your relationship must be highly action-oriented. Clearly specify the temp’s scope of authority, but make sure it’s not limited to the point of hampering his or her efforts.
  • Pick his or her brain. Include the interim administrator in top-level meetings. He or she can provide objective advice based on years of experience. Veterans can help with recruiting and selecting an appropriate permanent manager, practice evaluation, strategic planning, and project management. Don’t overlook this rich resource.

A rushed search for a top manager often produces bad results: An ill-fitting individual who ends up serving for a short time as a veritable “buffer.” Better to buy time to “shop around” for an appropriate administrator who will stay a good long time.

Contact Greenbranch Publishing for your specific needs regarding the right temporary management help in your medical practice. We may be able to suggest just the right person for you.

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