Practice Policies Your Staff Will LovePosted August 29, 2016 by Stacy Bolzenius
Like any medical practice, an OB/GYN office must have policies to promote smooth operations, efficiency and good customer service. Women’s health care can be complex, and women are savvy customers who know the difference between staff who follow policies and obviously care about their patients, and those who give lip service or flat-out ignore the rules. Getting staff buy-in takes planning, clear and well-written policies, good communication, effective utilization and a team environment. Last resort: lower the boom on employees who won’t cooperate.
Planning Enhances Performance
A good plan really makes a difference. Begin with a brainstorming session on where you want the practice to go or what must be done to meet new regulatory guidelines or quality indicators. Check with organizations like ACOG to see if there are new clinical guidelines for OB/GYN care. Get your staff involved right at the beginning; participation in the planning sessions helps increase buy-in, and the staff has a very different perspective than the doctors. If someone on your staff has meeting facilitation skills, let them lead the discussion.
A good policy helps explain what you want to happen, how it should happen and what outcome is expected. Clear, well-written policies help ensure that staff will perform the way you want them to. If no one in the organization has the necessary skills, consider getting outside help. Once the policy has been drafted, send it out for staff comment. Incorporating suggestions helps promote buy-in. Just be sure to give recognition to those who have good suggestions and thank everyone for their participation.
Training and Implementation
A policy doesn’t mean anything if the staff hasn’t been well-trained on the new procedures. In some cases, just reading the new policy is sufficient, while in others, it’s worth the time to do a training at a staff meeting. It’s also important to explain why the new policy matters in terms of the big picture, and how staff adherence makes a difference. Once the training is complete and the new policy has been implemented, solicit feedback. It’s hard to see all the potential pitfalls until you put a policy into practice. If something’s not working, make a change. Again, make sure to communicate changes and thank people for feedback.
When There’s a Problem
Sooner or later, you’ll run into the problem of the staff person who doesn’t want to play by the new rules. Once you’ve confirmed that the issue is the person — as opposed to a poor policy, inadequate training or inconsistent implementation — make it clear what the expectations are. If performance doesn’t improve, move on to discipline and, if necessary, termination. Although it’s upsetting for staff when someone is fired, it’s demoralizing to work in an organization where policies are meaningless and no one is held accountable.
Check out our articles at Perinatal Resources for more ideas about staff management and practice improvement in the women’s health field, or to get ready for a certification exam.