The Power of Practice Managers

Practice managers can often be the superheroes of a practice! But more often than not, practice managers learn 'on the job.' Join Luci Carrillo & Jamie Mache as we share with you an amazing resource specifically for practice managers. Click to listen now!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How practice managers can level up their skills
  • How a practice owner can empower their practice manager

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Practice Manager Pro

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Luci
Hello and welcome to the Productive Therapist Podcast! My name is Luci, and I'm joined today by my fabulous co-host, Jamie. Hi, Jamie. How are you?

Jamie
Good. How are you?

Luci
Yeah, I'm good. Thanks. Jamie and I have received so many questions from practice managers for a training focused on you as a practice manager. So in this episode, we're going to share with you three of the most commonly asked questions or challenges practice managers face. Now, Jamie, you and I have been talking a lot recently about practice managers and the amazing job they do. And I know you've also been a group practice manager for many years now. How would you sum up what a practice manager does?

Jamie
Oh, they're a superhero, I think. They're a Jack of all trades, a Jill of all trades. They are the go-to person for the practice for any reason on any day.

Luci
That's great. I love that, superheroes. I would agree with that. Every interaction I've had with the practice manager, it seems like they have got so much going on and they keep track of so much. They really are superheroes. So if you're listening and you're a practice manager, you're a superhero. And don't forget it.

Jamie
And wear that cape proudly!

Luci
Yes, exactly. Whatever color it may be. So, Jamie, in your experience, how do most practice managers learn how to do what they do?

Jamie
Well, my experience, I learned as I was in the position. I don't think that there is much besides this program that we're creating that's out there to help prepare a practice manager on the different tasks or how to handle certain things. For me, it was a learn as I went type of situation. That's daunting because you don't know if you're handling it in the right manner or should you be doing something a little bit different? I think that's one of the main reasons why we are creating this program is to help other practice managers know from a collaborative of their fellow practice managers what their experiences are and how they handle that situation, have a great community support system.

Luci
Yeah, that's great. Yeah, it seems from all the practice managers we've spoken to, it seems to be pretty similar, doesn't it? Everyone seems to learn on the job. That's just how you do it, which is super stressful. So if there was a way to make that easier, that would be great, right? And, Jamie, mentioned a program that we're creating. Well, ha-ha-ha, very exciting. We'll tell you a bit more about that at the end of this episode. But as you know, productive therapist is all about helping practice owners and their team to be the best they can be while also loving their work and loving their life. Because, after all, work takes up such a huge chunk of our days and our lives, it should be as enjoyable as possible, right?

Jamie
Absolutely.

Luci
Yeah. So how can you, as a practice manager, achieve this? Or if you are a practice owner, how can you help your practice manager to achieve this? That's what we're going to discuss today. And I know, Jamie, you have a lot of thoughts about this too, so let's get into it. So the three questions slash challenges that we're going to be talking about are: dealing with outstanding client balances, interpersonal issues, and increasing community awareness of the practice. First of all, dealing with outstanding client balances. Jamie, do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your cool and for communicating effectively? What's helped you deal with this very frequent challenge?

Jamie
Yeah, the outstanding client balances, as we know, finances can be a very sensitive topic for a lot of people. We're not making that phone call of saying you have X amount of dollars outstanding, it's uncomfortable for the practice manager. It's uncomfortable for the person that's receiving that phone call. There's no easy way to do it. You just have to basically rip that bandaid off and make that phone call. But the suggestions that I have is to have your intake coordinator explain your payment process and especially your cancelation policy during the intake call that if the client has any questions, they can ask that of your intake coordinator right away and have that be followed up with whatever information is in the intake paperwork. And to also have your clinician communicate those expectations and policies during the first session. So your payment policies have been touched on three times by the time the client is in the first session.

Luci
That's really great. Those two suggestions. They sound so basic, but because they're so basic, a lot of people don't actually do them because you assume that the client is just going to get that. It makes sense. You're having a service, you're going to have to pay for it in some way, whether it's insurance or private pay. But like you said, outlining those two points or that point multiple times across multiple people is really going to help reinforce that to the client. That's a great suggestion.

Jamie
Thanks. And especially since not everybody reads the paperwork that they sign. So having it verbally.

Luci
Who does? I mean, realistically, I don't think I do.

Jamie
Yeah, a lot of people are just like they glance it over very quickly and then sign. So having it verbally communicated with your intake coordinator and then the clinician again during the first session just is that safety net of knowing that that information was relayed to the client.

Luci
Yeah, that's great. I know you had mentioned a third tip that you use when collecting payments. What was that? Remind me of that.

Jamie
Of collecting the payment when the clinician is scheduling the next appointment for that client. Like have them run the credit card right then and there. Then if there's any issues, maybe they forgot that that credit card that is on file in the EHR had some fraud and so that was canceled, they can provide a different payment method or maybe that credit card expired. Right then and there, you can address, Oh, I'm sorry, this card was declined. Could you please provide me with another card? The client can do it right then and there at the time of session, so you're not having to track down the client later on to do that. Unfortunately, there are times that if a client has several sessions of outstanding balances, it can happen, they can ghost or not show up for any more sessions and not return phone calls. So collecting payment at the time of their appointment is a for sure way of not having outstanding client balances.

Luci
That's an interesting one. It sounds like that could be very awkward, like you're at the end of the session, you've just been you as the client, you've been extremely vulnerable talking to your therapist about very personal things, and then suddenly they're bringing up the subject of money. But in reality, that won't happen the vast majority of the time, because if the therapist or the clinician is just automatically running the card, they're not making a big song and dance about it or drawing attention to it, they schedule the appointment, they click the button to charge the card. The only time they're going to have to say something is if the card declines for some reason and then they can bring it up. So most of the time, you don't even need to raise it. You just do it.

Jamie
Exactly. It could be a very quick process if you have their payment information stored in your electronic health record, maybe it's like two or three clicks and then you're done, they don't even need to know that you're actually doing it. It can absolutely look like you are putting them in your calendar for their next session.

Luci
Yeah, that's a really great suggestion. I like that. Thanks for that, Jamie. Yeah. So interpersonal issues, this is a huge topic. There are so many ways that interpersonal issues can arise within a practice, within the team, with a client, all kinds of ways. So we're just going to focus on one today. And obviously your goal as the practice manager is to have a working environment where everyone feels comfortable and supported. But of course, everyone is different, so interpersonal challenges do pop up, and often the practice manager is the one that has to resolve these so that the comfortable environment can be maintained for everyone, right? So what are some of the common interpersonal issues that you've seen, Jamie, and what solutions have you found for dealing with those effectively?

Jamie
Some of them may be the problems of not communicating the need of a therapy room, thinking that one room was scheduled for a clinician and actually another clinician had it at that time, or maybe not knowing the processes or procedures for something, and that clinician not feeling like they were brought up to the information that they need. The biggest thing for dealing with interpersonal conflict, communication. You have to have an open line of communication with all of the members in your practice. You need to have that open door policy, let them know that they can come to you for any reason that you will be there to support them. If you don't know how to fix it or do something that you will find out how to and get back to them, basically, be that person, that go-to person for everybody and also have active listening. Sometimes by active listening, you can find out what's bothering somebody and stuff like that. And also one thing that we will go into later in the program that Lucy will be sharing with you later is knowing what type of conflicts you are experiencing or having to deal with, and that will lead you on the best way on how to handle that type of conflict.

Luci
Yeah, that's a good point. And yes, like Jamie said, more to come exciting, but we're going to help you with those specifics, identifying what interpersonal challenges you are facing, because sometimes we don't realize. We're just doing our job and we don't realize what we're dealing with. So having an extra set of eyes or ears to point those out to us can be very helpful. And then, of course, the solutions and tips for dealing with those. So finally, increasing community awareness. Now it can feel quite intimidating, especially when you're learning on the job as a practice manager to know how to get your practice out there, how to raise community awareness. Jamie, what solutions or strategies have you found helpful with this?

Jamie
I would say the first and foremost and probably the most easiest one is to have a great referral outlist. By doing that, you're referring out to other practices, clients that may not be a good fit for your practice, and in return, they will do that to you. That is fostering a great community and a great connection with that. The other ones would be attending community events, getting your practice out there, letting the community know what your services are and how you can help the clients in that community, having workshops and having those be open to the community on the different types of workshops that you're providing. And then partnerships. It is really important to foster partnerships in your community. It be a clinic, the local high schools, teen clinics, substance programs, and especially the public safety. They could utilize your practice for different needs. Those partnerships are a great way to have that community outreach. Most of those are also we'll get your name out by word of mouth. Word of mouth, in my opinion, is the best type of advertising. Because everybody wants to know that if I hear it from somebody else, I will take that recommendation over some anonymous Yelp review that I researched. And also, word of mouth is free. Who doesn't love free advertising?!

Luci
Me, me! Pick me! Free. I love free. Yeah, that's very true. Yeah, thanks for those suggestions, Jamie. And you're right, word of mouth referral has been shown consistently over and over again to be the most powerful lead generation tool. So when you're trying to find new clients for your practice, if you can get your practice out there through word of mouth, that is going to be especially powerful. Yeah. Great suggestions. Okay, so just by way of quick review, we've talked about three of the top challenges that practice managers face, dealing with outstanding client balances, interpersonal issues, and increasing community awareness. And, Jamie, has given you some great tips under each of those to help you with those different challenges. Practice managers really do an incredible job at not just keeping everything chugging along, but also keeping everyone happy and helping the practice to grow and thrive. So we hope this mini training was helpful to you. We know there is so much more involved with being a practice manager than just keeping things moving. You most likely take care of troubleshooting challenges, platforms and tech issues, handling the finance or the billing or overseeing that, making sure it's done correctly, compliance for the practice, for the individual clinicians, HR, marketing. And that's not to mention you just trying to keep a good work-life balance. I mean, that should be its own whole topic right there. And so to help you hone your skills and get all the insider tips and tricks to make your role and your life easier, as Jamie mentioned, we've created an amazing new training program just for practice managers. It's called Practice Manager Pro, which every practice manager wants to be a pro. And it follows in the footsteps of our incredibly successful trainings for intake coordinators, billing team, and practice owners. Practice Manager Pro is packed full of simple solutions, tips, tricks, and guidance from seasoned practice managers who've made all of the mistakes so you don't have to. The program is available for $797 and it comes with lifetime access, so you will always have access to the training. So if you want to hone your skills or if you're a practice owner and you want to give your practice manager the support they need, check it out today at grouppracticemadesimple.com. See you next time. Bye, Jamie.

Jamie
Bye.

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