Learn to identify what makes a great practice manager

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Sometimes questioning the efficacy of a practice manager is not the best approach, as the problem may lie elsewhere.

Lots of our consulting assignments begin when the doctors in a practice start questioning the effi ciency or eff ectiveness of the manager. Sometimes they're right to be concerned, but often it's not the manager at fault.

Here's what we've found that may help you in evaluating a similar situation in your practice:


3. MBAs don't make the best managers for medical practices. Lots of physicians are eager to graduate to the level of a MBA-managed practice. They don't realize that very little of what medical office managers need to know is taught in university programs. An MBA graduate from a good program still needs to learn on the job the intricacies of Medicare reimbursement, physician scheduling, and clinical staff productivity. It takes a long time to acquire these skills in this way. Further, MBAs aren't usually very interested in those topics. It's not what they were trained to do. So, they often don't learn what they need to know. Without the know-how, it's difficult for them to build the respect of the rest of the staff and succeed as leaders.

4. Management is more an art than a science. Management requires vision, intuition, and the use of influence. Good managers are the ones who inspire "followership" in their subordinates and the confidence of the physicians. They do that by being right most of the time and being reasonable all of the time.

5. There's no one "best" type of manager. There are plenty of effective managers with varying styles. What's important is the ability to inspire confidence in the boss and respect in the subordinates. Once the practice manager achieves that, the rest will fall in place much more easily.

The author, a Medical Economics editorial consultant, is a 30-year veteran management consultant with Practice Performance Group in La Jolla, California, with clients in 39 states. Send your feedback to