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Finding the right one: 12 questions to ensure you hire the right practice manager

Finding the right one: 12 questions to ensure you hire the right practice manager

As the number of patients and employees increases in your medical practice, so does the amount of time that needs to be spent on medical management. As your practice grows, you also need to invest in more resources on the operational side.

A high performing practice manager can make all the difference. They are responsible for a plethora of tasks that can promote an efficient, smooth running, fast-paced practice. They ultimately ensure the business is managed professionally, so practitioners can focus during their time with patients and so all employees can work towards achieving the practice’s goals and vision, and uphold its values.

“Practice managers are responsible for financial management, governance and organisation, business and clinic operations, risk management, IT management, human resources management, and marketing and planning.”

– Linda McSweeny, Medical Journal of Australia

Finding and hiring the right person will require effort in terms of sourcing and filtering through available candidates. To support your medical recruitment process, we have outlined some useful practice manager interview questions and answers below.

 

Recruiting medical management: 12 interview questions, designed to draw out practice managers’ skills and knowledge

 

1. What are your strengths? How do these strengths make you the right person for our practice?

Exploring strengths is a core interview focus across all sectors and for good reason. It is a chance for candidates to demonstrate how their strengths align with the needs of the role and the objectives of the organisation.

A medical practice is a business like any other. Therefore, good experience and skills in business administration are essential. The profitable operation of your business is in their hands. Are they confident in their ability to manage clinical governance challenges, improve efficiency and handle financial performance? Also, are they capable of handling marketing and digital initiatives to connect with current patients while also attracting new patients?
 

2. What’s the most challenging part of budgeting for you?

This question digs deeper into a candidate’s ability to financially manage your practice. In the course of their day, they may take care of everything from payroll and front desk cash flow to debtor management and business loans.

Are they financially literate and able to outline how they would present practice finances on request, such as, expenses, debtors, un-submitted accounts, employee entitlements, and so on. Can they prepare monthly reports that summarise your practice activity? How would they set up and manage accounting systems for the practice; prepare financial reports, statutory reports and accounts; maintain financial records; collect debts, and also train employees in financial management tasks?

“These days, as practitioners realise the value of their practice managers, a lot of the time it’s the practice manager that can be the practice’s competitive edge.” 

– Brett McPherson, former Director of the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)

3. What makes a great leader in a medical practice?

Effective leadership in medical management combines empathy, tact and an ability to unite a team around a shared mission and vision. Your ideal candidate will demonstrate a people-focused approach; understanding the unique aspects of empowering practitioners to succeed in their role and deliver the highest quality of patient care. This extends beyond considering the technical and logistical requirements of operating a practice – it includes championing a support network for everyone on the team.

Michelle Bihary, mental health practitioner and speaker, pinpoints the need for health professionals to receive “encouragement and permission to look after themselves (physically, mentally and emotionally)” and the “permission to set boundaries, take adequate breaks and time to debrief when needed”.

4. Describe your ideal culture.

The culture of your practice is key to success, particularly in light of studies that have uncovered some evidence around how “practice culture influences the nature and quality of medical decision making”. Therefore, it is crucial that the attitude and priorities of your ideal candidate align with the vision for your practice. Do they see the importance of improving efficiency? Are they excited about championing a culture of open and positive communication between team members?

Practice managers are in a unique position which enables them to champion a positive culture, and in doing so “achieve the required changes and to drive innovative change and improve processes”.

5. What creates a positive patient experience?

Practice managers look at the big picture of the practice and are responsible for overseeing how your team delivers a positive patient experience from the first greeting to follow up visits. That is why this question is important.

Ask candidates what they believe creates a positive experience and how positive experiences facilitate positive patient outcomes. Evaluate how they emphasise the importance of empathy and warmth in all patient interactions. Ask candidates to share their ideas for equipping patients with the right information at the right time.

6. Working in a medical practice, you obviously manage different employees staff from Specialists, to GPs and Receptionists. How do you manage them differently and why?

Your ideal candidate’s understanding of how a practice operates will provide you with insight as to how they would approach different individuals. After all, different roles come with different expectations, responsibilities and key performance indicators.

While the approach taken to support the success of your team will vary depending on the individual, it is also crucial to remember what needs to stay the same for everyone. Always upholding respect for each other, providing honest feedback, being inclusive and offering clear purpose and expectations should be shown to everyone on your team.
 

7. Describe a situation where you dealt with a dissatisfied patient.

Many of the best healthcare management interview questions focus on exploring real life examples.

Patient dissatisfaction will occur from time to time, with complaints often relating to “unexpected costs, unexpected outcomes or unmet expectations”. Great practice managers must skilfully address these complaints, while also taking proactive measures to prevent future occurrences. Managing patient expectations is key, facilitated through equipping patients with timely information about what they can expect from a specific treatment or how much a consultation will cost.

“The way a practice manages complaints and adverse incidents is perhaps the most powerful risk management tool. Properly managing an angry or unhappy patient will significantly reduce the likelihood of litigation or a complaint.”

Avant

Ask your candidate how they responded to the dissatisfied patient, how they managed expectations and implemented preventive measures.

8. Describe a situation where you identified an inefficient process and reduced administration time for your team.

Time is the greatest resource in medical practices, yet too often administrative tasks and inefficient processes drain hours away. Improving efficiency is a key priority for practice managers.

Prompt your candidates to explain the ways that they would identify opportunities for improvement, whether through mapping processes, collecting data or gathering feedback from employees. Explore previous situations where your candidates have successfully implemented positive change, with emphasis on how they generated buy-in from all team members.

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9. How important is the role that technology plays in a thriving practice? What do you consider essential technology for a thriving practice to run efficiently?

Robust practice technology plays an integral part in powering a high performing medical practice. It is therefore helpful if your ideal candidate demonstrates familiarity with your current practice software, while also conveying an enthusiasm for upskilling in technology systems. The right technology is an invaluable tool, and its full potential is not always realised.

Encourage candidates to identify how they use practice software on a day to day basis, how they think it streamlines their process, and how specific functionality is useful.

10. What industry associations or events are you part of?

This question is a conversation-starter around how involved candidates are in the health industry. Whether it’s events, associations or conferences, attendance and enthusiasm demonstrate an interest in the operation and improvement of our healthcare system.

11. Why have you chosen to work in healthcare?

Everyone has a different answer to this question, and that’s the greatest part about it. This conversation starter allows candidates to open up about their personal ambitions, interests and perspective. Their answers will convey their enthusiasm about healthcare and potentially how long they want to work in the industry – hopefully for the long term.

12. How do you think technology is going to change the future of healthcare?

In many ways, practice managers are champions of your practice’s success. They're the ones identifying opportunities for improved efficiency, motivating staff and keeping financial performance on track – so you can focus on your patients. Tapping into technology is one core aspect of this mission, so a general interest in how technology is revolutionising healthcare is a welcome trait.

“Digital technology could help… equalize the relationship between medical professionals and patients, provide cheaper, faster and more effective solutions for diseases... and could simply lead to healthier individuals living in healthier communities.” 

– Dr. Meskó Bertalan, The Medical Futurist

Over to you

As your practice grows, and you have the opportunity to provide exceptional care for more patients, you will need to grow an effective team to support and realise around your vision. These healthcare management interview questions are just one component of an effective medical recruitment process.

Streamlining your operations is essential to free up more time to focus on patients and invest in practice growth. Discover how to run your practice like an entrepreneur in our latest resource.

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