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Managing a Remote Health Care Staff

Today's business world consists of an entire population of workers that conducts its business from a remote location. The healthcare sector also following the telecommuting trend, needs proper management of the remote medical staff, essential to the effectiveness and productivity of its organization.

Remote Health Care Staff Management

Workers that operate from a remote location can be found in a variety of departments within a healthcare organization, including: medical research, patient assessment, medical procedure appointment scheduling, record keeping and triage health advising. For many, working from home provides wonderful advantages in comparison with standard in-office employment. Some of these home based positions include:

  • ::  Telephone Triage Nurse - These licensed nurses assist patients via telephone, answering health questions and making determinations about appropriate necessary care based on the individual's responses. These nurses can also schedule appointments, refer patients to specialists and instruct patients on how to best manage their symptoms.
  • ::  Patient Services Manager - Tasked with managing and evaluating patient services programs, this position also maintains databases and works in the recruitment or hiring of volunteers.
  • ::  Field Care Manager - Typically a licensed RN or Social Worker, these individuals' complete patient assessments and coordinate case management services. They also take part in health promotion and wellness recommendations.
  • ::  Clinical Quality Analyst - These employees use analytical and statistical methods to identify areas of medical facilities and make recommendations based on their findings to improve overall productivity and efficiency.
  • ::  Appointment Scheduling Representative - Handling the arrangement of patient appointments is the primary responsibility of these employees, but they can also handle internal physician scheduling, such as vacation and holiday time.

Remote Staff Management

While telecommuting has proven to be beneficial for both organizations and their employees, the remote staff must be managed carefully to assure productivity and focus. An excellent healthcare tele-manager will possess the following characteristics:

  • ::  Superior organization – With a large team of remote workers, it is critical to stay a step ahead in organization. From planned scheduling to accurate tracking, a successful healthcare system is based on the project manager's organizational skills.
  • ::  Polished delegation – A manager must be able to divide the workload equally and fairly, as well as step in to dissolve disputes if they arise. Generating a workable schedule can help in the delegation of duties among remote workers, and publishing this information to the team allows everyone to plan their time accordingly.
  • ::  Trustworthy and respectable – It is imperative that the team has mutual trust and respect for remote staff to be successful. Accountability systems can be implemented, if necessary, and can require workers to log hours and compare notes online, or even meet weekly or monthly to discuss recent progress and upcoming goals.
  • ::  Excellent communication abilities – Communication is vital when managing remote employees. A good manager has a 'virtual open door' and should encourage each employee to present his or her concerns, ideas and suggestions.

Tips for Remote Management

Valuable tips for managing a remote healthcare staff include:

  • ::  Select remote employees carefully; everyone has to be dependable for the entire team to find success.
  • ::  Utilize communication technology whenever available to maintain team collaboration.
  • ::  Develop a system of timekeeping and project tracking.
  • ::  Provide easily accessible IT support for all workers.
  • ::  Develop a newsletter for the team, so that they can stay updated on other team members' achievements, progress and upcoming goals.
  • ::  Host online group meetings, including initial introductions and weekly discussions, so that team members can get to know each other better. Online forums also allow a way to continue the conversation, share information, swap notes and collaborate on future projects and ideas.

Strategies and Tools

It is important for leaders to have a basic strategy for dealing with their team, including:

  • ::  Planning the Work – Mapping and organizing in advance, can help the flow of work move most efficiently. Little room is left for error when preparation is extensively planned.
  • ::  Setting Expectations – Making sure your team knows what is expected of them and what goals the team is trying to accomplish.
  • ::  Monitoring Performance – Having a system of checks and balances in place that will alert you if performance and efficiency starts to drop.
  • ::  Recognizing Performance – Keeping a sharp eye out for standout employees, and acknowledge their accomplishments. Hard work should be appreciated and employees thrive in an environment where they feel their work is valued and respected.

The remote healthcare manager should also provide the team members with the following tools for their day-to-day routines, allowing for accelerated efficiency:

  • ::  Team-wide access to shared databases and common computer programs. Access should be available from any location that can receive wireless transfer of information.
  • ::  Email hosted "in the cloud," or otherwise stored on an external digital server. This will assist in communication as well as transferring time-sensitive data.
  • ::  Excellent mobile phone service is necessary for remote workers, for both conversational purposes or even to act as a modem for a laptop in areas of low wireless capability.
  • ::  Digital signatures are crucial in remote healthcare. Just as in physical business environments, in remote healthcare, a signature is proof of an agreement or acknowledgement of witness. In times of emergency care, a signature is often required before a procedure can commence, and having digital signatures to send electronically can save priceless moments.

Health care managers in a remote environment have to be entirely trustworthy and able to place confidence in their teams. These health care managers also need to have excellent time management skills, possess a keen work ethic and keep in constant communication with their workforce to assure deadlines are met and work is completed.

If you're ready to begin your exciting career in healthcare, Utica College can help you start your journey with a Health Care Administration Master's degree. This flexible program allows you to keep your professional and family life, while earning your degree online and can put you ahead of the competition in health care management.