Your recruiting process started months ago, the new physician has executed the employment agreement and now it’s time for the new physician to join the practice. If your practice doesn’t have an onboarding checklist, now is the time to develop it.
While the new physician is anxious to start seeing patients immediately, the reality is that it could be several weeks or months before this happens, depending on how effective your onboarding process works. Take this time to provide valuable training and orientation to your new physician.
The onboarding process should start prior to the new physician joining your group. The practice leadership should discuss a start date with him or her, allowing adequate time for the physician to relocate and set up his or her new home. The practice leadership should assign a staff member to be the project manager for onboarding. Depending on the size of the practice, this project manager could be the human resource manager or the practice manager in a smaller practice. The project manager should create a time line indicating key tasks, progress remarks and expected completion dates.
There are several important aspects of the onboarding process, which includes credentialing, orientation, marketing and staff integration.
Credentialing the new physician with insurance payers and facilities is one of the most important steps in the onboarding process. The new physician may need medical staff privileges with hospitals and ambulatory service centers and credentialing with the commercial insurance plans the group participates with, possibly including Medicare and Medicaid. The credentialing process usually takes 90 to 120 days; however, it may take a little longer than usual during the summer since this is a very busy time for the credentialing staff with new residents graduating during this time. Keep in mind that unless the physician is a participating provider with an insurance payer, the physician will most likely not be paid for his/her services. Do you have staff to ensure the new physician becomes credentialed, or will you outsource this task?
The orientation process is another important step. Assign another physician to mentor the new physician for at least the first year. The physician leadership should meet with the new physician to set expectations regarding the number of patient encounters during a specified period of time. Provide the new physician with an office or workstation that includes a phone, computer, and other necessary supplies and equipment. The new physician must become familiar with the practice’s operational and clinic policies and procedures, including the employee handbook. The billing staff should train the new physician on documentation and coding tips. An electronic medical record “super-user” should train the physician on the practice’s electronic medical record and e-prescribing. The practice manager may want to demonstrate the practice management system, depending on the level of access granted to the new physician by the physician leadership.
Another step is to market the new physician to the medical community and the neighborhoods in the practice’s catchment area. Whether the current practice’s staff can perform marketing, or if the practice has to outsource the marketing, the practice should start marketing the new physician at least 30 days prior to the new physician’s start date. The new physician should have his/her biography and photo added to the practice’s website. Business cards will need to be ordered. Get the new physician involved with visiting other medical practices to build rapport for referrals, especially if the new physician is joining a specialty practice. Finally, if the physicians have lab coats and scrubs with the practice logo, the practice manager should ensure these items are ordered as soon as possible.
Staff integration is the final step. Schedule a staff meeting to introduce the new physician to the staff. Will the new physician have a dedicated medical assistant, or will there be a pool of medical assistants helping the new physician? If the practice has multiple locations, the mentor should take the new physician to the other offices and introduce him/her to these staff members.
Contact Concordis Practice Management LLC at 210-704-1014 for assistance with onboarding your new physician. Concordis can also assist you with credentialing your providers.