On office managers: Huntsman's off base
It baffles me that Roy Huntsman would advise any medical practice to get rid of its office manager. ["Do you really need an office manager?" Jan. 24]. I've been a practice management consultant for 20 years and will always advocate for an office manager. Physicians need to do what they do best: practice medicine. Leave administration responsibilities to an office manager who can provide leadership, direct staff, and manage operations. No small task!
Newbury Park, CA
The opinion that an office manager is a "glorified bookkeeper" is appalling. It takes more than a "pair of movie tickets now and then" to motivate your staff to give their best.
You need a committed office manager who is organized and inner-directed, with leadership skills, an entrepreneurial approach, and technical management expertise. Such a person will maximize your productivity and provide quality service to your patients.
Mr. Huntsman, I'm extending an invitation to you to attend the annual conference of The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management in September in Norfolk, VA. I would embrace the opportunity to challenge you in an open forum attended by nearly 400 practice managers, followed by a question and answer session.
Joan M. Rissmiller, CMM
President, Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
Editor's note: It's our understanding that Mr. Huntsman accepted Ms. Rissmiller's invitation.
While your Web poll on the subject ran heavily in favor of the office manager as "savior," my experience is that few are qualified to handle financial management or maximize reimbursement. As a practice consultant, I've found that they tell physicians only what they want them to hear.
For example, we demonstrated how a five-doctor group could increase monthly receipts by $20,000. Although some of our recommendations were implemented, the office manager never showed the actual report to the doctors.
My recommendation is to outsource the billing and financial management and limit the role of the office manager to a people-person who can keep morale and patient satisfaction high.
Central Point, OR
Do you really need an office manager? Not any more than a magazine needs an editor. I'm sure that his duties could easily be absorbed by a highly competent staff of writers.
(I've deliberately used "his" to square accounts: Your consultants seem to think all office managers are "hers.)
Contrary to proving his point, Huntsman demonstrates his limited knowledge of the changing needs of today's medical practices. No physician has time to administer and stay current on various compliance policies and those are grains of sand in the ocean compared to the areas of oversight a conscientious office manager handles each day.
Correction: The letter "Are you your patient's keeper" [March 21] was co-authored by Joseph M. Kaminski, MD, and James Bradley Summers, MD. We apologize to Dr. Kaminski for omitting his name.
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Letters to the Editors. Medical Economics Apr. 25, 2003;80:10.