Successful management strategies for the busy rheumatology practice must evolve with the rapidly changing clinical environments of healthcare systems today. The complicated administrative and novel clinical demands of a thriving rheumatology practice increasingly require the expertise and skill of practice managers competent in managing budgets, personnel and day-to-day clinical operations. This allows for improved efficiency and efficacy in the delivery of care for patients with rheumatic disease.
Explore this issueApril 2015
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The role of the practice manager may vary depending on the setting in which they work. In private practices, the practice manager may partner with and report directly to the rheumatologist(s) providing patient care. In this setting, the practice manager may need to be the expert in all of the business operational needs of the practice. In larger health systems, practice managers may be part of an administrative structure responsible for ensuring institutional and regulatory requirements for operations are met while optimal care is provided for patients, efficiently.
What does the practice manager do?
The three major areas of responsibility for all practice settings are operations, budget and finance and human resource management. The practice manager may be responsible for coordinating and managing each of these elements of the healthcare system they work in. Operational demands require management of the patient care environment (e.g., scheduling, the front desk, referral management, interoffice communications, ancillary services, etc.), process improvement tasks, facilities, health information technology systems, marketing and risk. Additionally, assurance of regulatory compliance (e.g., The Joint Commission, OSHA, etc.) may be the practice manager’s responsibility.
The expectations of budget and finance management include oversight of billing/coding, collections, financial management and analysis, inventory management, purchasing, taxes and payer/regulatory agency interactions. Further, human resource management may demand excellent supervisory and communication skills, because the practice manager may be in charge of staffing details, licensure and compliance, continuing education and training for staff, payroll and benefits, performance monitoring and occupational safety.
What training/education is required for practice managers?
The training and education necessary for an effective practice manager will vary by setting. A business degree with experience in healthcare administration may be ideal. Professional experience with prior management, supervisory or leadership roles is often required. Tailored graduate studies in health policy, ethics and law may equip practice managers to serve in leadership roles in large organizations, hospitals and group practices.
The ARHP Practice Committee has produced a briefing paper, The Role of the Practice Manager in the Management of Rheumatic Disease, for patients. It may be viewed online. Practice staff can join the ARHP under the Practice Manager membership category.