If there is one type of management that is exhaustively different from the others, that’ll be medical management. The worst part is that it looks to be kinda the same: you have to coordinate your team, make sure the communication is there, take care of the paperwork, deliver quality service to clients, etc.
Except that it’s ridiculously more complex than that.
For one, your team isn’t the typical “let’s do this project” team they are doctors and nurses, who deal with hundreds of patients on a regular basis.
Two, the quality of service has to always, like always, be top notch. Mishandling a patient treatment will cost you a gigantic lot more than mishandling a website design for example.
Three, if you want to make the comparison, medical management is like handling an insane amount of projects at the same time every day, which is equal to the number of patients your clinic (every case is a separate case or a separate project for that matter) has for every given day.
Surely, a project manager can handle multiple projects efficiently, but multiple is a rather broad term. When referring to “basically any other business” projects, multiple usually stands for like 4, maybe 6 or 10 at most, for the same period of time.
That’s the average number of patients per doctor in the world. An average doctor can safely and effectively see three to four patients in an hour. Given that a typical workday in a clinic is 6 hours, that’s about 18-24 patients each day. Let’s take the average number of 20 from that range. Just hold on to that for a second.
Now an average clinic (yeah I know I said the word average more than enough times already, but I’m trying to make a point, stay with me for a little more on this, come on) in Canada has around 10 doctors.
Time for some really advanced math guys.
On an ordinary day, an average clinic in Canada has to treat around 10×20 patients.
Is the number of projects that a medical manager deals with on a regular basis, every day. Yeah, I didn’t write the word “hundreds” in italics at the beginning just for the looks.
Well shit. That’s not exactly what I call “easily manageable” or even “remotely possible”. Still, this is important and needs to be done. So I think the obvious question is... How.
Well, sadly, there are things that even I can’t help you out with. You are on your own.
Just kidding. There is nothing impossible, guys, especially for managers and particularly, for health managers.
Here are a few tips that you can use to make your health management more efficient.
Learn to prioritize like Spider-Man
Remember that scene in Spider-Man, when the Green Goblin puts him before a seemingly impossible choice of who he decides to save: the girl or a bunch of kids falling down in a wagon?
The guy managed to do both (like any decent superhero as I’d imagine), but got to the more sensitive case first: if the girl hit the ground, she had no single chance of surviving, while the kids were inside a wagon at least (well, he was also madly in love with her, but let’s just cut that bit out).
Things that can be learned from this: every life is treated the same, but getting to help a patient in a more severe condition is the choice you have to take every time.
Value your time
As brutal as this might sound, you simply can’t “waste” time talking, explaining, and soothing each patient you deal with. Do that, and you risk mishandling other patients that might be in dire need. Now medical managers don’t typically deal with patients themselves, but they are responsible for coordinating and directing patients to doctors, so each minute counts.
Have somebody help you
Let’s face it. As much as you want to, it might simply be physically impossible to manage all of that stuff in a single day. For this purpose, you might want a nurse or two to help you with something. Now the important part is to decide what exactly you want (or can) delegate to nurses and make sure nothing will be at risk, even if the nurse (or you for that matter) messes up in some way.
Consider things that carry the least amount of responsibility, but soak up a lot of time. Updating patient cards, registering new patients, etc. are good examples of such tasks. Surely, every clinic is run in its own, unique way so this is the point where you will have to add some things to the list on your own.
Consider using technology
There is this ridiculous trend-like thing I keep encountering wherever I go: medical professionals avoid using advanced tech that isn’t directly related to patient care, treatment or diagnosis.
You need to change this. Using project management software in your clinic can be tremendously efficient and you will be thankful you gave it a try. All the paperwork will be finished, there will be no more lost patient cards, incorrect inputs, wrongly administered drugs, or any other confusion.
You will not only speed up the whole process but also relieve some stress of yourself and decrease error margins. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
Health management may be the toughest manager’s position out there, but it’s also the most rewarding. And I’m not talking about money. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing that look of sincere gratitude in the eyes of people that you helped deal with some kind of health problem.
I’m a doc. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about -)