One of our recent articles discussed a recent surge in elective medical volume – with inbound web lead and call volume is up 18% in Q1 of 2021. Additional survey data indicates many people are ready to return back to in-person care at a physician’s office. But just because practices are opening, doesn’t mean it isn’t without strategy, planning, and getting the right people to help with the continued ups and downs. Here’s what we’re seeing as practices look to staff up:
1. Uncertainty Hasn’t Gone Away
While some practices may want to jump to hiring or bringing back staff full-time, others are proceeding with caution. It’s a risk to bring back full-time employees when the future still seems a bit uncertain. It’s also tough to ask staff to come back part-time, especially if that means they may need to coordinate with other work.
Similarly, the working environment could pose issues for employees. A McKinsey study on the future of work after COVID-19 found jobs in work areas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation – with one of the largest negative impacts to fall on customer sales and service roles.
Practices may need to consider re-configuring their offices or set up some employees to work remotely. When the pandemic hit, OptiCall quickly worked to enable First Contact, Boomerang, and Capture teams to manage inbound phone and web leads remotely, while maintaining rigorous HIPAA standards. This has allowed practices to outsource new patient management and have onsite staff focus on delivering the best experience in the office.
2. Experience and Training is Required
It isn’t the time to hire inexperienced employees. Practices have enough to juggle just trying to get back to stability – you don’t want to add to the chaos with people who don’t know anything about the business. You want to ensure you’re hiring skilled people with customer service experience, industry experience, and the ability to interact with patients on a personal level. Finding talent that has all three of these characteristics can be hard to come by.
Even the most experienced people will still require more education and training than before. You’ll need to review, amend, and train or re-train on processes previously in place. You may also need to plan for a longer, more complicated learning curve for new employees to get up to speed.
The inability to find good talent fast enough, and the fact there’s no time for adequate training, are key reasons practices are looking to outsource some of their administrative functions.
3. The Need to Scale
We hope the recent surge in volume means continuous growth, but nothing is for sure. It could be that things ebb and flow, making it difficult to keep up with constant change. You may find you have gone through all the hard work to hire and train people only to find continued volatility will force you to cut back again.
Certainly, if you hire any staff back full time, it’s helpful if they can perform several different functions. It can also be helpful to hire employees that see themselves growing within your practice. Filling in gaps can be an opportunity to grow and learn different areas of the business to eventually get promoted. For managers, it’s a question of how much time they are spending doing tasks that someone under them should be doing. At a time where growth is very important, managers need to be focused on getting core aspects of the business back to business as usual. Conversely, if things die down, you may have full time staff with too much time on their hands and not enough business coming through.
Being able to quickly dial-up or dial-down administrative functions according to revenue can help you be agile as things fluctuate.
4. The In-Office Experience Requires More Attention to Detail
As mentioned, re-opening your practice still comes with extra attention to safety and cleanliness, in addition to delivering an exceptional patient experience. With limiting entry, physical distancing, conducting temperature checks, processing additional forms, and sanitizing the office, staff is managing way more than they were before. Even as the pandemic hopefully subsides, the focus on health and safety is likely here to stay for patients to feel comfortable. Combine all of this with the growing trend that consumers want their experience to be seamless and streamlined according to their preferences.
This adds pressure to staff to make sure their focus and attention is on patients in the office.
When it Makes Sense to Outsource
It’s at this point, practices are evaluating whether it makes sense to hire employees or outsource. The questions to ask are:
- How has your current staff been handling re-opening?
- Do you find they are overwhelmed on a day-to-day basis?
- Are critical mistakes happening on an ongoing basis due to not enough training or juggling too many tasks?
- Do you find hiring even one more person may be too costly?
If you’re answer is yes to any of these, outsourcing your functions could be the right next step. Whether it’s just for a few months until things settle down, or a permanent solution, you have the flexibility without the financial commitment.
But if you’re not quite sure, get a practice assessment. Our free assessments anonymously evaluate your practice performance and determine where there is opportunity for improvement. Knowing the current gaps can help you understand where to hire, how to manage staff better, or where outsourcing may be a cost-effective solution to help you manage volatility. Complete the form below to get started today.