The rapid growth of the healthcare industry is contributing to the job stability of individuals working within it, as well as the necessity for an increasing supply of certain professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a projected industry growth of about 30% through the year 2020. Among the many growing medical professions, the role of the office manager is brought further into the spotlight. While doctors are busy seeing patients, practices need to be run and maintained.
Depending on a variety of factors, it may or may not be profitable to obtain an office manager to handle the business operations of the practice. Some of the responsibilities of the office manager include developing and maintaining relationships with everyone who steps into the office; from physicians, to staff, to patients and vendors. An office manager may also handle HR duties in regards to finding and hiring new physicians for the practice, as well as managing employees’ schedules, finances, billing, compliance, and handling payroll and PTO.
An experienced office manager is indispensable to many medical practices because the entire business side of the practice is handled by this individual. Many practices promote inexperienced individuals from within or allow a friend or relative to take on the office manager role. These practices often suffer financial and operational consequences, and it may take them years to understand that the origins of the problem lie in an unsuccessful and inexperienced hire. The ideal office manager will have worked in multiple positions within a practice and will understand management of the practice from the side of each employee. Experience is also a key factor in selecting the right person for the role, as is the concept that an office manager must actually be managing the practice. Too little authority given to the office manager may result in them only handling billing or clerical duties, which negates the necessity to hire the office manager in the first place.
Due to the rising market demand for the position, office managers today expect higher starting salaries ranging from an annual 75-100k. For smaller practices which cannot afford an office manager or for whom it would not be profitable to hire one, either a single or multiple physicians may take on the role. Duties may be divided and managed by the physicians, but this scenario is only successful for physicians who have both extra time and the desire to assume those responsibilities. For larger practices, hiring an office manager is indispensable as the amount of physicians and staff employed in the practice will be unmanageable for a physician working in a dual role, and would be chaotic if multiple physicians took on the responsibilities, as there would be far too many for them to handle efficiently. For practice owners who are unsure of whether to hire a full-time office manager, the services of a practice consultant may provide them with the cost-benefit analysis and advice necessary to make the decision.