Reviewer: Jeffrey R Leber, MPA (University of Maryland)
Description: Any book approved by the American Medical Association automatically gets attention, especially a practice manual. This one is no exception and should be a standard in every medical practice.
Purpose: The book offers expertise in the management of various areas of medical practice.
Audience: Targeted to all general or specialty practices, this book should be used by practice mangers as well as physicians. The Coker Group is a respected practice consulting corporation and the authors have extensive knowledge and expertise in various components of practice management.
Features: The manual is extremely well organized and provides valuable and informative chapters within main topics or sections, covering managing personnel, compliance and regulatory environment, finances and operations, information technology, managing managed care, recruiting and retaining physicians, practice marketing and promotion, ancillary services, risk management, and buying, selling, and owning the medical practice. The chapter on finances and operations discusses the importance of managing operations and revenue, a distinction that is too often overlooked. It starts by describing the role of a practice manager and comparing the importance of that role with a vice president of a corporation. Ideally, practice managers release physicians from direct involvement in the day-to-day management of a practice and allow them the luxury of just practicing medicine. It sounds so simple, but it is difficult for many physicians to delegate that level of control. Physicians should not be involved in personnel decisions, except from hiring the practice manager. The practice manger has training and/or expertise in the administrative issues that arise in a practice and these should be completely delegated to the manager. The manual discusses the qualities that one should seek in a practice manger, a job description, and interview questions. The selection of an effective practice manager is critical to the success of any practice. If this chapter was the only one in the manual, it would be well worth the cost. Today's practice needs to be at least moving towards better use of information technology and a section is dedicated to assessing the needs, readiness, selection of software, implementation, a "physician champion" for installation of the electronic health record, network security and data protection, and HIPAA requirements. Since this manual is a three ringer binder, the practice should make a practice of adding documents to keep it current and continually useful. The CD that comes with the manual includes such common forms as new employee orientation checklist, petty cash reconciliation, consent for treatment, medication record form, and sample patient satisfaction questionnaire.
Assessment: This manual adds significantly to the practice management literature. It is not the type of reference that is kept on the shelf, rather it is intended for continual use and it meets that mark.