Halting a reign of terror

Nov. 1, 1997
Case Profile: "Reduce stress in the office; bring back the smiles of staff; and make it a happy place." That`s what this general practitioner called me in to do. In solo practice for 25 years in a suburb of a major metropolitan city, the doctor sees patients between 28 and 32 hours per week, has a blue-collar patient base of 1,400 and a yearly production of just over $1 million.

Sally McKenzie, CMC

Case Profile: "Reduce stress in the office; bring back the smiles of staff; and make it a happy place." That`s what this general practitioner called me in to do. In solo practice for 25 years in a suburb of a major metropolitan city, the doctor sees patients between 28 and 32 hours per week, has a blue-collar patient base of 1,400 and a yearly production of just over $1 million.

Symptoms: This is no Halloween charade ... it`s the

She-devil herself at the helm of this office and she`s got everyone, including the doctor, scared stiff. Compounding the stress level is an inferior computer system with limited management capabilities ... a frightening demon in its own right. Between the system`s failings and the office manager`s reign of terror, we`re not only looking at staff members who`ve got one foot out the door, we`re faced with a ghastly patient retention of 46 percent. Trick or treat, heh-heh-heh! Observations: manager was at the center of all this, the doctor wanted to dismiss her, but was afraid of not being able to recruit the right replacement; he was concerned about maintaining operations in the interim; and he was worried about who would be in a posi-tion to train the replacement.

Treatment Plan: The first order of business is to convert the existing computer system to a user-friendly one, which will provide the practice with critical management capabilities, including patient retention, accounts receivable and scheduling. By providing system training to everyone in the office, including the doctor, there will no longer be any reason to fear a loss of management control.

Next, the doctor will need to address the dilemma of the She-devil. It boils down to two choices: He can fire the office man-ager and hold on to the rest of the staff; or, if he decides to keep the office manager, he?ll find himself in need of four dental assistants, three hygienists and one scheduling coordinator. Easy decision.

Because the doctor had expressed serious concern about recruiting the right individual, we provided him with ads that have proven to be successful in drawing the right applicants. And to make the process even more comfortable for him, we also pro-vided a consultant/trainer to screen and interview applicants and to train the candidate who ultimately got thumbs-up from the whole crew.

End Note: When the doctor contacted the former computer company to find out his password for the system, it was men-tioned

to him that if he no longer needed his office manager, the computer company could really use her as a trainer. What a hoot, huh? Happy Halloween!

Sally McKenzie is a Certified Management Consultant and president of McKenzie Management, Inc., a full-service, in-office dental management consulting company with clients across the U.S. and Canada. She can be reached at (800) 288-1877; e-mail [email protected]; or visit her web site at www.mckenzie-mgmt.com.

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