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    Make your manual a 'go-to' guide for everyone on staff

    Q: The last office procedure manual we developed for our practice was created at least 10 years ago. Knowing that it's more than past time to update it, what information should we make sure to include in the new version?

    Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS
    A: Running a medical practice involves a complex set of procedures and carefully coordinated acts that allow patients to be treated, referred, and billed as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible while you meet precise regulations and standards of care. Yet, in most practices, new employees are expected to get up to speed in a short time. Established staff members also may choose, over time, to cut corners to save time and red tape. For these reasons, a detailed, updated, and enforced office procedure manual serves as a great tool to ensure consistency in how the practice goes about its business.

    This manual should be the "go-to" guide for everyone involved in your practice to learn how to perform the practice's daily business correctly and efficiently. This includes new employees, temporary workers, managers, physicians, and everyone else on staff. A well-written, organized procedure manual helps all workers understand what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It also provides some degree of legal protection by setting clear expectations and policies—from hiring to day-to-day activities to disciplinary protocol and dismissals.

    The most useful manuals include, in great detail, information such as the purpose, history, and philosophy of the practice; the training process; job descriptions for every staff position; standard office procedures; background on compliance plans; healthcare benefits; vacation and sick time policies, emergency procedures; office dress code; and confidentiality procedures. It also should include a list of tasks employees need to complete before leaving the office, including backing up the electronic billing system, securing patient charts, and locking the narcotics cabinet.

    Answers to readers' questions were provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, managing director of SS&G Healthcare Services LLC, Akron, Ohio. Send your practice management questions to
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