The days when an office manager was also the spouse of the physician who came and went as she or he pleased are over.  Today, a busy practice needs a reliable practice manager who is more than capable of multitasking.

This can be a difficult position to fill, but knowing what qualities are most important can help make more effective hiring decisions.

The six skills of highly effective practice managers include:

1. Experience

Search for a practice manager who has been around the block. Make sure he or she has had experience running a practice that is similar in size or scope to yours.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: Review their resume, and make sure that they have not jumped around too much. Look for a solid work history and upward mobility. Red flags may include large gaps of unemployment and job hopping, or those who move from one employer to another every  2 years or less.

2.People Skills

Patience, along with the ability to listen and communicate in a caring manner and address any problems fairly and equitably, are important for practice managers as they will be interfacing with your staff, patients, vendors, and insurers.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: The candidate should be likable. Are they easy to talk to? Personable? Do they look you in the eye? Have a firm handshake? These are qualities that speak to people skills.

3. Conflict Resolution Chops

A skilled practice manager needs to be able to handle patients’ concerns and serve as a buffer when the patient is dissatisfied. He or she must know how to listen, empathize, and address the patient’s concerns in a manner that is agreeable to both the surgeon and the patient. It’s not always easy being Switzerland, but for a practice manager, it is essential.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: Ask for a concrete example of a situation where a patient was unhappy, and how the candidate addressed it.

4.Product Knowledge

High-level staff members must have more than a basic knowledge of the services you perform and the products you sell to train new-hires and manage patient expectations.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: Ask the candidate what they know about the procedures that are performed at your practice. Here, you are looking for honesty. It’s OK if they don’t know the difference between a transconjunctival blepharoplasty and a subciliary one. A bright candidate can learn these nuances.

5.Financial Acuity

Negotiating with vendors and staff can yield more profit than revenue. This ability is a must for an effective practice manager.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: Steal a trick from The Wolf of Wall Street, and ask the candidate to sell you a pen. See how they approach the salesmanship and negotiation, with you playing the cost-conscious buyer. This exercise may prove telling.

 6.Desire for Autonomy

A practice manager cannot be afraid to take control. They must
feel a sense of ownership in the practice to be able to make decisions. This autonomy can never be attained if you micromanage your high-level staffers.

Shorr Thing Interview Tip: Provide some scenarios where a stealth decision would be needed, and see if the candidate has what it takes to own the situation. n

Jay A. ShorrJay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC I-VI, is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla. His column, “The Shorr Thing,” appears in every issue of Plastic Surgery Practice. He can be reached via [email protected].