What Makes a Great Medical Practice Manager?

Whether you’re an experienced medical practice manager, brand new to the position, or looking to hire someone to fill a management role, it’s always good to understand the skills that go along with job. Medical practice managers face unique challenges, and a good one requires the right combination of experience, education, and common sense. Below are the top five skills that a great medical practice manager should possess. No matter where you are in your career, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re nurturing these skills and keeping them sharp.

  1. Organized yet flexible.

    When you manage a rheumatology practice, there are many things to keep organized. From patient information to insurance claims to records management, the amount of paperwork—much of it private and protected—needs to be accessible and organized at all times. If something falls through the cracks, or an important document is lost, it will cost the practice time and money. In some cases, it can even affect a patient’s health. That said, it’s also important to be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned, and a good manager knows how to roll with the punches, adjust expectations on the fly, and make sure all the necessary steps are taken, no matter what order they happen in.

  2. Compassionate and caring, even in a crisis.

    Patients generally come to your practice because something is wrong, and they’re looking for relief. No one visits their physician on their best day; often, they show up to your practice on their worst day. Good practice managers can set aside their own moods and attitudes, and treat each patient with compassion and dignity no matter what is going on in their personal lives.

  3. Strong communication skills.

    Rheumatology practice managers must be able to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people from all walks of life. Physicians, staff, and patients all need important information and the manager is the one who must ensure they get it. This means they need to be able to communicate well in person, on the phone, through email, and via documentation. These skills will help the practice run smoothly and are incredibly important.

  4. Interested in rheumatology and professional development.

    Rheumatology practices deal with a very specific subset of medicine. While managers don’t need to be rheumatologists (that’s why there are physicians!) a higher-than-average interest in and knowledge of rheumatology and associated topics is always a good idea. Let’s face it—when a patient needs an answer, they will ask the first person they see. Often, that person is the practice manager. A good manager will be able to answer basic questions and put patients at ease.

  5. Reliable, dependable, and dedicated.

    This goes for any job, not just rheumatology practice managers. When you manage a practice, many people are depending on you. A manager who shows up for all their shifts on time, cares about the practice, and looks out for staff will go a long way toward making the practice a pleasant environment to work and a great place to get treatment. For a good medical practice manager, that is the ultimate goal and the best sign of success.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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