Blog Posts and Podcasts

Creating a Connected Culture

A Masterclass

Co-presented with Bill Hershey of

Life Stream Business Services

July 20, 2023

Does Your Practice Need More Help?

February 12, 2024

The most popular slide in my recent Top Tips and Tools of 2024 presentation (by far!) was the one about virtual assistants.  If you’re not using them yet, you should definitely consider adding these talented and motivated folks to your team to do things like answer phones, register new patients, process referrals and authorizations, verify eligibility, real-time scribe and much more.

Many groups are getting exceptional results and significantly increasing their patient satisfaction and profitability.

To level-up, consider having these staff work outside of “normal” business hours to increase your availability to patients calling your office when it is convenient for THEM.

Here are some things to consider when talking with potential virtual assistant vendor partners:

  • Data Security Measures: Emphasize the security measures you need in place to protect sensitive patient information, regardless of the virtual assistant's location. Explain how data encryption, secure communication channels, and compliance with HIPAA regulations ensure confidentiality and privacy.

  • Confidentiality Agreements: Implement confidentiality agreements or non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to legally enforce the protection of patient data and other sensitive information. Ensure that virtual assistants understand their responsibilities regarding confidentiality and are committed to upholding these agreements.

  • Quality Assurance Measures: Implement quality assurance measures to monitor the performance and productivity of virtual assistants, regardless of their location. Set clear expectations, provide feedback regularly, and conduct periodic performance reviews to ensure that work standards are met consistently.

  • Cultural Sensitivity and Language Proficiency: If the virtual assistant is based in a different country, ensure that they are culturally sensitive and proficient in English or the primary language used in your practice. Clarify expectations regarding language proficiency and cultural understanding to minimize misunderstandings and communication barriers.

  • Testimonials and References: Ask them to provide testimonials or references from other clients or businesses who have worked with virtual assistants from the same location. Positive feedback and recommendations can help alleviate concerns and build trust in the virtual assistant's capabilities and professionalism.

  • Risk Mitigation Strategies: Identify potential risks associated with outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants based outside the US and develop contingency plans or risk mitigation strategies to address them proactively. This may include redundancy measures, backup support options, or alternative arrangements in case of unforeseen challenges.

  • Trial Period or Easy Contract Termination: Consider implementing a trial period or ensuring contract termination is easy in order to assess the virtual assistant's suitability and performance before making a long-term commitment. Use this period to evaluate communication effectiveness, workflow compatibility, and overall satisfaction with the arrangement.

  • Be Flexible: Be ready to adjust your current workflows to meet the virtual assistant’s skills and talents and to maximize the capabilities of your on-site staff.

  • Communication Channels: Establish regular, clear communication channels and protocols to facilitate effective collaboration between the medical practice and the virtual assistant. Utilize secure messaging platforms, video conferencing tools, and project management systems to maintain regular communication and address any concerns promptly.  Embrace the VA as part of your team, and ensure they are kept in the loop, as you would any other staff member.

We Must Do Better

January 18, 2024

Recently, I had disappointing patient experiences at 3 separate practices, and the fact that the staff and providers seem to be oblivious really disappoints me.

At the first practice, I had an appointment that I had waited weeks for abruptly cancelled just 24 hours ahead by a staff member. She said it was because I had scheduled the “wrong appointment type”, even though their online scheduling allowed me to schedule it. Then I was advised via a portal message to schedule the “right” type of appointment, even though it is not available in the online scheduling interface. I was not offered a new appointment time, and had to call their scheduling line, instead. After waiting 15 minutes, I was offered a new appointment now several months away. I left a voicemail for the practice manager to discuss my experience and have not heard back. I am not surprised.  

At the second practice I found multiple errors in an online check-in platform that prevented me from properly reporting my health status and medications. This means a much longer process for everyone when I arrive at my appointment and made the online check-in a waste of my time.

At the third practice I was unable to reschedule an appointment that I had scheduled online. I had to make a new appointment instead and leave a scheduling note for the staff – hoping that they will see it as the reschedule, I am intending it to be.

I am ALL FOR utilizing technology to support office workflows, but we MUST walk in our patients’ shoes and see if it is really working.  If we don’t, we simply create more work for ourselves and a lot of dissatisfied patients.

Just because patients don’t have a lot of choices about where to receive care, doesn’t mean they should tolerate bad processes, systems, and experiences.

Patient experience matters.

Strategic Planning is the Compass Guiding Us Through Changes and Challenges

October 1, 2023

As we start the 4th quarter, it's the ideal time for medical groups to revisit (or create!) their strategic plans.

Strategic planning is the compass guiding us through change and challenges. It aligns our vision, mission, goals, and values with the needs of patients, providers, staff, and partners.

Here are several key areas to focus on:

  • Practice Culture: Develop plans to maintain and improve culture, engagement, and talent management

  • Objectives and Goals: Evaluate performance, set SMART goals everyone has a part in

  • Increasing Revenue: Renegotiate your payer contracts, review coding and billing practices

  • Controlling Costs: Negotiate new or renegotiate existing vendor contracts. Join a buying group (or more than one)

  • Budgeting: Review financials and prepare a realistic budget

  • Risk Management/Compliance: Identify and manage potential risks

  • Capital Projects: Estimate requirements and prioritize upcoming projects

Remember, strategic planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Regular reviews and stakeholder alignment are essential for success.  Let's gear up for a strong Q4 and beyond!

Navigating Medical Practice Hiring Changes and Implementing Best Practices

February 17, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in the healthcare industry, including how medical practices approach hiring new staff. It is more important than ever to stay up-to-date with the latest hiring trends and best practices.

What has changed:

Remote Work: With more medical practices embracing remote work, the pool of potential candidates has expanded, offering more flexibility in the work arrangement.

Technology: The increased use of technology in medical practices has led to a demand for staff with technical skills, such as proficiency in EHR systems, telemedicine platforms, and digital communication tools.

Diversity and Inclusion: Medical practices are placing a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their hiring processes, including creating a workforce that is representative of their patient population.

Mental Health Support: With the pandemic shining a light on the importance of mental health, many medical practices are prioritizing the well-being of their staff by offering increased support, such as mental health resources and flexible work arrangements.

Skills Training: Due to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, medical practices are investing in the training and development of their staff to keep up with new regulations, technologies, and best practices.

Here are some best practices to follow for recruiting and retaining staff in the post-pandemic era:

  • Make sure the job descriptions, duties, onboarding and training plans are current and customized for every role prior to posting your open positions. This pre-work is invaluable in helping you identify and retain the right staff. What you last hired for may not be what you need right now. Look for opportunities to increase flexibility in location, schedules and hybrid or remote work.

  • Ask your existing staff for input and potential employee referrals before you post on a job site. Existing employees provide valuable feedback about the current needs of the practice and will often refer excellent candidates to the practice because they want great co-workers!

  • Reassess your compensation and benefits package to be sure you are competitive. While you may not be able to offer the highest salaries in the industry, you should be confident that wage ranges are competitive. You should also consider offering non-traditional benefits like health and wellness membership stipends, professional development pathways and programs, paid volunteer time and Employee Assistance Programs.

  • Create objective screening tools to help you rank and score potential candidates, using the essential competencies and experience you have identified in the job description, while looking out for potential transferrable skills from other industries. Pro tip - Try to remove the candidate’s name from the resume before you review. This reduces the natural biases we bring regarding names and gender.

  • Screen the top candidates via phone interview first and use the ranking document to compare candidates to one another. Follow a script of the same questions for all candidates. All jobs in our practices require some degree of phone skills and this is a great opportunity to assess a candidate’s competence in this area, as well as their genuine interest in the job. I like to ask “Tell me what you know about our practice and why you are interested in joining our team.”

  • Interview the top scoring candidates via video conference, next. Again, follow a script of the same questions for all candidates. Doing interviews via Zoom or Teams allows you to efficiently ask more detailed questions, observe non-verbal cues and to continue ranking with objective measurements based on the identified requirements of the job. It is also respectful to candidates who may have multiple interviews in a day and who wish to limit their travel time.

  • Finally, bring the top candidates into the office for a 2-3 hour shadow with potential co-workers and to observe the practice workflows, technology and more. This is an opportunity for the candidate to experience the culture of your practice, ask questions, and interact with potential co-workers. Candidates have significant choices with roles today and you want to ensure they can see themselves as part of your team before both sides invest further in the process.

If these steps feel daunting, don’t be afraid to outsource some or all of them. I can work with you to customize a recruiting plan that includes these and more, at a much lower cost than traditional staffing agencies. I work alongside you and act as an extension of your practice, allowing you to focus on the most important final steps with only the top tier candidates for your positions.

One of my clients recently said, “I love working with you, and you made the process so easy for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. I especially liked your ranking system to help me evaluate what my needs were and which person to pick to hire based on those rankings and needs. It was efficient, timely, and I trust your judgement and insight fully to help me in the future as well!”

I would love to partner with you to help you find your next team member!

Reach out to schedule an appointment with me at 503-957-0415

January 9, 2023

MGMA Podcast:

It was great fun to share my story and my passion for developing healthcare leaders

November 18, 2021

MedMan Podcast:

Top 21 of 2021 - Favorite Tools for Wellness, Leadership Development and Productivity


Enter your information below to receive my newsletter and invitations to upcoming events

We use cookies to improve your experience and to help us understand how you use our site. Please refer to our cookie notice and privacy statement for more information regarding cookies and other third-party tracking that may be enabled.

Intuit Mailchimp logo
LinkedIn icon
Facebook icon

© 2023 Harris Healthcare Consulting, LLC