Monday, March 20, 2006

Staff turn-over

I came back from March Break holidays to find out that one of my staff is leaving, as of next week. This is not due to EMR implementation (although this can be an issue); she has found another job, for which she is eminently qualified, and is very upset about having to leave now. As well, one of my other secretaries will be away most of April for family and personal reasons. I was planning to switch to entering patient data on the EMR as of April 3rd.

I have 3 part-time medical secretaries and 1 student in the evening, for two family physicians. This will leave us very short-staffed in April. We had an office meeting today to decide what to do. The staff member who will be staying in April offered to work full time for that month; as well, I have an extra person familiar with the office who can fill in on a casual basis in the afternoons. What we will do is have the casual worker come in daily in the afternoon to do filing/faxing and office work, leaving my secretary time to do the phones and booking.

In May, we'll all look at scheduling, and decide if we need to hire an extra person, or see if the rearranged schedule with a filing clerk in the afternoons works.

I now have to decide if I still want to start EMR on April 3rd. After thinking about it, I see no reason not to; I can certainly start to enter patient data in the EMR instead of the paper chart. We had already blocked off some appointments in April so as to give me time to enter data; slower scheduling then will be better for my secretary as well. I will likely wait a month before introducing EMR functions that require changes at the front, such as scanning documents into the chart. I am going to the EMR training sessions tomorrow morning and next Wednesday, and may as well start to apply what I will learn.

I have emailed Nightingale to find out about training if we hire an extra person. I would like new hires to get training, but this will have to be modified, as the new person will not have to learn about all the customization features; the program will already be customized to fit our practice. I am not sure if we should do this in-house; the answer will likely become more clear to me as we start using the EMR.

I don't think having an EMR will limit the opportunity to hire staff. The ability to deal with several requests at once, people skills, a solid dose of common sense, and some computer ability will continue to be key requirements. The rest can be dealt with through training.

Let's see how things go. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's training session.


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