When the Doctor is Away

How you keep the office running

If you as the doctor/owner are planning to be away from the office – even for a day or two – the staff has some free time, too. The doctor/owner or office manager can make lists of things that need to be done.

Make sure that if your absence was somewhat unforeseen, provisions for referring emergency cases to other doctors have been arranged for, and that patients/clients have been rescheduled.

The doctor’s absence provides an opportunity to take care of matters that could not be conveniently handled on days when patients/clients are in the office. For example, this may be the time to have the walls repainted or to have equipment repaired. Of course, the owner should be consulted before this is organized.

The staff should take care of as many tasks as possible on their own, so that an insurmountable pile of unfinished business will not be waiting for your return. Mail should be opened, sorted, and placed in priority order. If any mail comes into the office that needs to be acknowledged, the office manager should send a letter informing the writer that the doctor is away, when he/she will be returning, and that the doctor will answer the letter when he/she returns. If the doctor is going to be away for a long time, a brief summary of the mail and phone calls can be mailed or emailed to him or her, or communicated over the phone.

This is a good opportunity to perform chart purges, contact patients/clients regarding their recall appointments, activate inactive patients/clients and get them scheduled, send out letters, and work on promotional projects.

The owner and the office manager should meet prior to the scheduled absence and form a plan for what the staff should work on during that period. As unexpected absence of the doctor can occasionally occur, the owner and the office manager should determine the policy to govern such an instance which would define what the staff is to do during that time.

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