Practice Efficiency

How to Find (and Keep) Employees During A Pandemic

How to Find (and Keep) Employees During A Pandemic
Miranda Eifler
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Your staff makes up the foundation of your medical practice. After all, your staff members are your patients’ first impression, fielding phone calls, scheduling appointments, processing intake and insurance, and more. Your overall patient satisfaction is tied, in large part, to the people they interact and communicate with at your practice. 

Needless to say, it’s imperative for your online ratings and long-term growth that you hire and retain the right people. Doing this now, in the midst of COVID-19, can be challenging. To help, here are six ways to find and keep employees during a pandemic.

1. Know what (and who) you need

Your first step to finding and retaining employees is to understand your actual headcount needs. In other words, are you looking for more administrative help or clinical support? Do you need someone in a leadership position who can train and oversee staff? Think about the areas of your practice that aren’t functioning optimally or that seem to be a drain on your resources—these are areas that should improve with the right staff member. 

In general, you’ll likely need one of the following:

  • Office Manager: Manages administrative tasks, including staffing, vacation and sick days, billing, accounting, and payroll.
  • Receptionist/Front Desk: Answers incoming calls, processes patient intake forms and insurance information, and bills patients.
  • Medical Assistant: Offers administrative support while also triaging patients, i.e. takes vitals, finds out why the patient is there, and preps/briefs the doctor.
  • Registered Nurse: Offers basic clinical care to patients, like taking vitals, administering tests, giving vaccines, etc. There is some administrative work involved, like updating patient records.  

2. Find the right staff

Once you’ve narrowed down the position you’ll be hiring for, you need to attract qualified candidates. So, put together a job description that describes, in detail, the role you’re looking to fill. Be sure to include a list of the responsibilities and necessary qualifications, as well as why your practice would be a great place to work. Because safety is of the utmost importance these days, outline the protocols you’re following to mitigate COVID-19 exposure and keep your staff and patients safe. 

Then, share your job description far and wide. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Look Internally: An existing employee might be ready for a promotion or looking to switch specialties. Just make sure they have the right qualifications.
  • Bring Back Furloughed or Laid-Off Employees: If you had to furlough or lay off employees at the start of the pandemic, see if they are available and interested in coming back.
  • Check Locally: Reach out to any medical schools or medical training programs in your area to see if they can help share your job posting with students and/or recent graduates. 
  • Use Job Posting Sites: Post your job description on sites like Indeed.
  • Share on Social Media: Tell your LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Instagram followers about your job openings in case they or someone they know might be interested in applying.

3. Ensure safety

At this point, you likely already have strict protocols in place to prevent exposure to and the spread of COVID-19 in your office. Detailing what these are and consistently practicing them will help build trust and a sense of security with your employees (and, of course, your patients). 

Common COVID protocols include staggering patient appointments so fewer people are at your office at one time, offering contactless in-person appointments, opting for telemedicine visits whenever possible, limiting non-patient visitors, and conducting screening questionnaires and/or temperature checks at the start of every visit.

4. Build culture & give employees a voice

These days, employees don’t want to just punch a clock. Instead, they want to feel like they’re an integral part of something. So, as you build your culture, make sure to give everyone a voice and create a sense of ownership from the bottom up. This means keeping an open line of communication with employees, encouraging every team member to share their thoughts and ideas without repercussions, and cross-training your employees so they can fill in wherever they’re needed (and, of course, qualified). 

5. Be flexible

While some employees are driven to certain jobs because of competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages, others are attracted to intangible benefits like flexibility. Especially now when a lot remains unknown and risk continues to rise nationwide. 

Sure, you should think about salaries and benefits, but don’t forget that a simple understanding of our current times will go a long way in giving your company a competitive edge over other employers. In other words, if an employee needs to work from home because their child’s school suddenly closes, or if cases dramatically rise and a staff member feels more safe working remotely, prepare to be okay with that. 

Offering flexibility will help tremendously, especially if the pandemic has impacted your financials so much that you have to reduce wages or other benefits. If you’re concerned about how your staffers will be productive in a remote setting, it might be time to digitize your workflows, which leads us to our sixth and final tip...

6. Consolidate and digitize workflows

Traditional workflows simply aren’t sustainable anymore. On one hand, they waste time. In fact, phone tag alone can cost 3 hours per staff member per day, while physicians spend nearly twice as much time on paperwork as they do on actual patient care. On the other, traditional workflows don’t align with patient expectations or allow you to be flexible. 

When you digitize workflows with a solution like Klara, you can automate and streamline your day-to-day operations from anywhere (and while remaining HIPAA compliant). For example: 

  • Telemedicine: Offer real-time video visits, secure messaging, and remote monitoring with Klara’s all-in-one telemedicine platform
  • Automated patient communication: Send automated and personalized appointment reminders, intake and insurance requests, follow-up care, and more via text. No more dead dials or unanswered voicemails—just simple 21st century communication that your patients prefer.
  • EHR integrations: By integrating with your EHR, Klara tracks all patient communication and other updates in one place. 

With Klara, your staff will spend less time on the phone or processing paperwork, and more time on productive, revenue-generating activities, regardless of where they’re actually working.

At the end of the day, employees are looking for an employer that prioritizes safety and employee satisfaction. As long as you can do that, communicate it well, and stay consistent, you should have no problem hiring and keeping top talent during the pandemic.

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