Practice Management Blog

How to Develop an Effective Administration Policy

If you’re not entirely happy with process flows and staff and client satisfaction in your practice, your administration policies (or a lack thereof) could be what’s holding you back.

Clear, well-documented administration policies for health practices are essential to running a successful business. From reducing the likelihood of client misunderstandings about appointments, payments, and cancellations, to streamlining staff management and setting clear expectations for employees, your policies and procedures are powerful tools for managing the risks inherent in running a practice.

We’re here to help you develop smart policies and ensure you include the essentials!

How Much Detail Do You Need?

Although some policies are relevant to most practices, how comprehensive you choose to make your policy manual will depend on how your practice operates, the size of your practice and whether you have support staff.

If you’re a solo practitioner and handle all administrative activities yourself, you may choose to take a more high-level view of documenting your administrative operations. Keep in mind, though, you should have everything written down if you may, at some point, have someone else covering for you or if you plan to grow. But, for now, you might focus on office policies related to your clients and their records.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you have a large practice or employ a team of support staff, you’ll need more extensive documentation that establishes expectations for how your staff should deal with specific processes and situations.

Cover Information Security in Administration Policies for Health Practices

It’s a topic that you can’t afford to ignore: information security should be front of mind when writing your administration policies. Apart from the fact that non-compliance with legal and regulatory requirements can result in hefty fines, security breaches can have extreme consequences for your business, from interruptions to your operations to irreparable reputational damage.

Whether you’re updating existing administration policies or starting from scratch, make sure you consider privacy requirements that apply by law, as well as procedures that will benefit your practice.

It can be difficult to know if you’ve covered what’s needed when it comes to information security, which is why working with an Administration Policy template is so useful. An advantage of using Power Diary is that our systems are subject to the highest levels of security (and you can find out more about the comprehensive Power Diary security measures here.)

5 Steps to Develop Administration Policies and Procedures

Step 1: Determine What You Need

Identify the processes that would benefit from consistency. Based on the task, what are the steps that staff need to follow? When writing the policy, ensure you understand how the tasks are performed “live”.

Step 2: Go Step-by-Step

Once you understand the procedures you’re going to document, create a step-by-step guide that can be followed. When documenting the process, remember that you’re writing this for someone performing the task for the first time. What do they need to do the task, and what are the individual steps?

Step 3: Use Simple Points

Keep in mind that it’s not a research paper. Keep the writing simple and constructive. You can use bullet points to write commands and instructions.

Step 4: Test the Process

Just writing a policy and procedure is not enough. Give them to different team members and ask them to follow the directions to test them out. Is the outcome what was required? Ask for feedback, incorporate it into your plan, and then test it again.

Step 5: Clear Formatting

Use numbers, font size, and bullet points in the same format in all sections of the document. This will improve the reader’s experience and help them to follow the policy details.

6 Must-Have Policies

1. Phone Calls

This policy details expectations for telephone calls with clients or other telephone interactions. The procedure starts when a client telephones the office, or when a staff member contacts a client by phone. It ends when the staff member has finished the interaction or has successfully handed the call over to another staff member.

The procedure should include specific details, for example:

  • All calls should be answered within 3 rings, where possible
  • All callers must be greeted using this phrase: Good morning/afternoon, you’ve reached [Business Name], this is [Employee Name]; how can I help?
  • Ascertain the caller’s name as soon as possible
  • What to include if taking a message
  • What to avoid during a phone conversation
  • The format in which messages should be taken (think about security here)
  • How messages should be conveyed to the intended recipient (again, securely)
  • How often incoming voicemail messages are checked

Ensure that the procedure includes all expectations for conducting phone calls, including what to do or say when placing a caller on hold. Include separate processes for inbound calls and outbound calls.

2. Physical Mail

This policy aims to ensure that inbound and outbound snail mail is handled efficiently and that all employees understand the importance of efficient and confidential processing of physical mail.

Be sure to set clear roles and responsibilities about who is checking the mail. This includes people checking PO boxes. If hard copy mail is not being delivered directly to the practice, then a specific person needs to be assigned to the task.

Stamp all incoming mail with a date stamp. If you don’t stamp everything received, and something appears to be out of date, such as a legal information request, there could be legal implications. Date stamping all hard copy mail when received helps to cover that and shows the actual date the mail was received.

Have a set location for storing mail, such as an inbox for post received, an outbox for the post waiting to be mailed, and specify how often mail is collected and taken to the post office. Remember to keep security in mind here.

Include instructions on how each type of mail should be handled, such as:

  • Junk mail
  • Bills and invoices
  • Correspondence regarding clients
  • Correspondence regarding business management

Processes regarding banking documents also need to have dates, times, and specific schedules (think security!).

Remember the basics for outgoing mail: how it is formatted and how it looks. Something as simple as placing a stamp neatly can make a difference in the impression of a practice.

Letters should have a standard format – for example, fonts and capitalisation.

When folding a letter:

  • Fold it inward for privacy
  • Ensure your envelopes aren’t thin – don’t get the cheapest ones, as they can easily be read through.
  • Use security envelopes – you can also print letters on paper with a solid colour on one side to make it opaque for additional security.

Power Diary Tips:

Setting the invoice paper size is an option in Power Diary! Ensure that your Power Diary template has the correct letter size selected for your practice.

When scanning a document into Power Diary, set up a task for the relevant clinician to check it! This ensures the appropriate person has seen it and there’s a record of the acknowledgement.

3. Fax Management

This policy helps ensure that all fax communication is handled efficiently and securely. If your practice receives paper and digital faxes, be sure to include procedures for both.

Program the number of people and practices you fax routinely into the fax machine. Avoid manually entering fax numbers, because mistakes can be made, and a document could be sent to the wrong person when entering it manually. If you program the numbers ahead of time, it reduces the chance of an error.

This section will also cover procedures like:

  • Which employees have access to and responsibility for faxes
  • A cover sheet accompanies all outgoing faxes
  • Where faxes are received
  • What to do with faxes received that relate to a client
  • What to do with business-related faxes
  • How to dispose of junk faxes

We’ll stress it again: include steps to ensure your client and business data is protected.

4. Email Management

In today’s world, email is often the preferred method of correspondence for clients, external stakeholders, and internal stakeholders. This policy needs clear directives for handling all email communication, including incoming and outgoing emails.

This policy needs to cover the following:

  • The expected timeframe for email responses
  • How to distribute incoming emails amongst the team
  • What can and can’t be sent via email, particularly regarding clients, if the email is not encrypted
  • Storage of emails
  • The use of “Reply All” and the risk of a confidentiality breach

Set a training reminder to maintain staff awareness about the risks of confidentiality breaches and the use of “Reply All”.

Power Diary Tip:

Email clients directly from Power Diary! The client’s contact information is stored once, and you can send an email directly from the client’s record. This reduces the risk of errors that may occur when manually entering an email address into a different system.

5. Banking

In this policy, describe how employees receive incoming funds, how this is receipted, and what processes must take place related to banking and the reconciliation of funds.

Step-by-step procedures are important here, including:

  • Preferred payment type
  • When payments should be received, such as before or on the day of service
  • How cash is handled, and the amount kept onsite
  • Time frames for reconciliation and how this is completed
  • How payments are receipted
  • Defining the cash holding threshold before banking is done
  • Responsible persons and schedules for the handling of bank deposits

Power Diary Tip:

Generate cash reports in Power Diary! The activity summary shows how much cash you should have on hand based on your selected time frame. There’s also a summary of payments at the bottom of the report, which shows the different payment methods used and the corresponding amounts for each.

6. Filing and Data Entry

This policy aims to ensure the consistent and secure collection and storage of information. It needs to outline requirements for managing electronic documentation and, where necessary, hard copy documents.

This policy needs to include the following:

  • Where to store any hard copies
  • What should be done with client-related information
  • Naming conventions for the storing of electronic documents
  • How long documents are stored, and how and when they are deleted or destroyed

Cover Your Bases & Keep Everyone Happy!

Health practice’s administrative policies are more than just state and federal policies required by the law. Administration policies are the nitty gritty of behind-the-scenes client service. They show the practice’s views on client contact, service expectations and your commitment to client privacy.

You can achieve greater consistency internally and externally with well-written administration policies for health practices. This helps your practice to operate efficiently, fairly, and with integrity. Not only will this serve your clients well, but you’ll reduce frustration for your staff.

Want a complete Practice Manual for your clinic? Get the full pre-written documentation when you start with Power Diary. There are over 100 policies and procedures – ready to go, or you can configure them to suit your practice. Sign up for a Free Trial to get your Practice Manual today!

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