How to Staff a Clinic
There’s no exact formula one can follow when it comes to staffing a medical practice, clinic, hospital, etc. No one knows how many people will walk through the door until the patients begin to walk through the door. You need to make sure the floor will be covered, but you want to make sure everyone has enough work to keep them busy. Under staffing can make people stressed and unhappy, while over staffing isn’t a good use of your money. We will go over staffing tips for medical practices.
For now, disregard those who will help with billing, lab work, management, etc. Let’s focus on the simplest roles: whoever helps the patient from the moment they walk through the door until the moment they walk out. The front desk staff helps the patient once they walk in, the clinic assistants ensure the patient is seen, and the front desk staff will also take care of the out-patient process.
One full-time physician may only need the help of two full-time employees: one clinical and one non-clinical. The non-clinical staffer might answer phones, check patients in and out, handle the medical records, and assist with other office work. The clinical staffer walks the patient to the room, takes their vitals, performs the intake, and might assist with other medical tasks.
However, what if one person is sick or is on vacation? They may have to find a temp to take their place. A part-time position can also help when necessary. However, more physicians will likely require a larger staff for efficiency.
With more than one physician on board, you will need to ensure all your tracks are covered.
Front desk – When the number of providers begins to increase, so will the number of patients coming in for a visit. Having floating staffers can be a temporary benefit before adding full-time employees needing training. A check-in kiosk can also speed things up in the office and reduce the stress and tedious workload.
Dedicated phone staff – If you have a busy office, you don’t want to leave the patients directly in front of you on hold, too. If you find it is hard to balance the flow of phone calls with the flow of patients, consider hiring a phone staff. The patients in-person and the patients on the phone deserve the same care and attention.
Nurse triage – Clinical assistants might be too busy to answer the phones in between patients. Nurse triage is common in primary care clinics, and they can help keep the office flow in order by choosing when patients should come in for same-day visits.
Laboratory – Not all clinics need a laboratory or an extensive laboratory. The lab could be as simple as taking specimens or as complex as a full-time lab tech to performing tests.
Billing – Billing isn’t something that has to be completely performed by an in-house employee. You can outsource the entering of charges, overdue accounts, pushing accounts to collectors, and more. However, if you decide to hire an in-house billing staff, you may need one staffer for every two providers.
X-ray – You may not need x-rays performed in your office, but if you do, one employee should be enough.
Medical records – Having someone on staff to take care of the medical records will depend on the organization flow of the office and the size of the office. If your front desk staff or clinical assistant aren’t overwhelmed, they might be able to assist with locating medical records.
Transcription – Most physicians have a transcriber with them to take notes of each visit with each patient, unless the provider takes their own notes.
Management – If a practice is for a single physician, it may not require a manager. However, larger staffs will require a manager to ensure maximum efficiency is met and to ensure duties are being completed.
Surgery Scheduling – Clinical assistants sometimes help the physician with scheduling while they are performing surgery. In larger clinics, there may be multiple schedulers to ensure someone is available at all times.
Specialized Testing – If your practice performs testing, one technician is usually enough for each testing modality. However, you may need more than one technician if you are doing testing for other practices. You also may need to consider the expense of equipment and ensure there will always be a tech to perform the necessary tests.