​​​​​​​4 ways to structure more effective practice meetings

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​​​​​​​Small team meetings give different team members a stronger voice in the decisionmaking process, the AMA said.

Small team meetings can improve communication between staffers and set goals to improve workflow issues and other problems at a physician practice.

At Boston Medical Center, internist teams meet each Friday at 8 a.m. to discuss issues specific to their groups, and all six of the center’s practice teams come together once a month for a larger meeting for big announcements and to celebrate successful efforts, according to a post from the American Medical Association’s AMA Wire.

These meetings break down barriers between practices and make improvement projects more effective as different team members have a stronger voice in the decisionmaking process, says AMA.

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“The other benefit to the meetings is that it gives all team members a chance to show why certain changes are necessary,” Briana Dukas, an operations manager with BMC and a former practice manager in the system, said.

“It's not always obvious to the physician why the front desk does something a certain way, or vice versa. The team meetings are a chance to clear up some of that mystery.”

Poor communication is one of the key mistakes made by practice managers, and many offer directives that are unclear, unspecific or worded with a lack of urgency.

Employees lose on average of 40 minutes a day because of ineffective communication, Skip Weisman, a consultant based in Poughkeepsie, New York, said during a presentation at the Medical Group Management Association's annual conference. That's an annual cost of about $5,200 each year per staff member.

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The AMA’s STEPS Forward module offers several ways that practice managers can effectively structure and schedule meetings, according to the article, including:

  • Schedule meetings during times where patient care is unlikely to conflict, and keep to a regular schedule
  • Limit group size to make sure each attendee can be a part of discussions
  • Keep meetings focused on the issues at hand, and keep to a certain, planned window of time
  • Create and stick to a consistent agenda

For projects that come out of practice meetings, assign a point person who will coordinate the efforts and report back to the group at later meetings. Conduct regular followups on goals set at meetings.