Technology: Don’t forget about the front office!
You might have an intra-oral camera in each operatory, TV monitors on ceilings and other nifty technology in the clinical area of your office, but I’m here to ask you not to forget about the administrative team’s area. My suggestions range from small to big changes, however they all can make a huge impact on productivity. Here are a few ways to help create a happier and more comfortable administrative team atmosphere:
- Dual computer monitors: This may be hard depending on how much room you have, but they don’t need to be large monitors – just matching monitors. If you are a paperless office this will save your team many headaches. They will be able to have practice management software on one screen and on the other can be insurance company websites, work e-mail, x-rays or patient communication programs. In the past I’ve been able to look up information for a patient or keep my A/R list visible while still being interrupted by the phone and not having to close out of the other windows just to make an appointment.
- Fast internet: I think we can all agree there is nothing worse than slow internet. It will not only make running your software very difficult but in a paperless office, it will hinder your productivity. Your administrative team is necessarily almost always on the internet. Need I say more?
- E-mail accounts: It’s not a bad idea for a few staff members to have their own e-mail for two reasons. First, it gives employees a feeling of importance and individuality. Second, it will help keep your general office e-mail from exploding with junk and possibly missing something important. Patients can also feel like they are getting individual attention if your team member can say something like “Mrs. Smith – I will personally take care of that for you. Go ahead and send that to my e-mail and I will get back to you by the end of the day.”
- Wireless computer accessories: When was the last time you looked under the desk? Unless you have the most amazing cleaning company known to man, there will be hundreds of dust bunnies just waiting to be discovered and if you are an individual with allergies, you will be reaching for the nearest tissue box. Wires collect dust. Invest in wireless keyboards and computer mice. This way you will have more room for headsets!
- Headsets: Regardless of how much technology there is out right now, most people will still pick up the phone to make an appointment. The phone will always be the most important piece of equipment in the office – we will discuss that in just one moment. If you primarily use a Bluetooth device to talk on your cell phone, than you probably can’t appreciate the awful feeling between your shoulder and your ear by the end of the day. Headsets are a must-have for the admin team in my book. In fact, when I first worked in an office that wouldn’t foot the bill for one, I invested my own and took it with me when I left that office. It was worth every penny.
- Phone systems: I feel like phones are pretty low on the priority list and one of the last things to get updated. But when the cords start popping out of the handset while you are on the phone and some of the buttons don’t work, it’s time to move on. The systems available now also have Bluetooth capabilities, reducing the tangle of cords even further.
- Ergonomically proper chairs: I once worked in an office with chairs so big I could sit in them crisscross style. I was told to be careful that the armrests didn’t rub up against the counter, and they didn’t move up or down. By the end of the week my hips were killing me despite getting up as often as I could. There are many reasons for being ergonomically correct, but one of them is that your staff is comfortable and feels good while they are sitting all day. Your clinical chairs are most likely ergonomically made – so, if your staff’s chair are too, then they will be able to sit for longer periods of time.
You certainly don’t need to make all of these changes at once, but if you are considering a remodel or a way to reward the staff, these will make a big difference. In turn you will create a more dedicated, happier team. Or even better, ask your staff members what they think would make their jobs easier. I guarantee at least one of these items will be on their list!
Bridget Fay, BBA