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Taking a Closer Look at the Roles and Responsibilities of Orthopedic Surgical Group Managers

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The average orthopedic surgical practice employs 5 surgeons and an additional 30 support personnel. In addition to the complexities of multiple surgeons working with each other and with local hospitals to meet the practice's mission, the practice needs to interface with regulators, insurers, and patients. The office manager is usually the person who coordinates all of these things, stays abreast of health care changes and informs practice partners on key business decisions. Because the manager's role is critical, surgeons need to understand the office manager's functions and responsibilities.

In many ways, the science of medicine is the easy part—it’s the business aspect that baffles many physicians.

Orthopedic surgical practices are complicated, organism-like affairs. The average practice employs 5 surgeons and an additional 30 support personnel. In addition to the complexities of multiple (and often strong) surgeon personalities working with each other and with local hospitals to meet the practice’s mission, the practice needs to interface with regulators, insurers, and of course, patients.

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The office manager is usually the person who coordinates all of these things, stays abreast of health care changes and informs practice partners on key business decisions. Because the manager’s role is critical, surgeons need to understand the office manager’s functions and responsibilities.

AAOS Now, a publication of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, recently published a series of 3 articles that cover the office manager’s role and responsibilities. The utility of the advice provided extends to other surgeons and office practices.

The first article, "What to Expect from the Orthopaedic Surgery Group Practice Manager," covers the basic elements of the manager’s role: information management and analysis, reporting, and community interface. Although most surgeons think they understand all of these functions, the article discusses fine distinctions including what managers need to monitor and stresses that managers need to provide reports to every partner every month.

The second, "Measuring Up: What an Orthopaedic Group Should Expect in a Practice Manager/CEO," addresses the manager’s ideal work ethic, including helping partners attain altitude (distance from the everyday mayhem and perspective about the larger goal). The manager is also responsible for maintaining decorum in the office.

The third article, "Matrix Management," addresses the multiple reporting relationships that happen by necessity in a medical practice. It stresses the need for all employees to understand and respect reporting relationships. The key message in this article is that good matrix management reduces stress.

This series caters to the busy surgeon. The article wastes no words, presenting useful information quickly. These are a must-read for managers and surgeons in even the best-managed practices.


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