A View From a Surgeon: The Benefit of Relinquishing Patient Management To Office Staff

A View From a Surgeon: The Benefit of Relinquishing Patient Management To Office Staff


I’m a surgeon. Simple. Operating is what I do, and hopefully I do it rather well. The two things I am not allowed to do by my staff are; discuss money with anybody, especially patients; and book operations or change operating lists.

Why? I hear you ask. I shall tell you, I say. Lets start with booking patients for surgery. I have 45 minutes spare on Monday. It takes me 45 minutes to do a Breast augmentation. Therefore I should be able to fit in young Jane Smith I saw today who is desperate to have her breasts augmented before her graduation next month. Yes? NO!

My lists are booked with precision because I don’t book them. My staff know exactly how long it takes for me to operate for every procedure I do, and they ensure that 15 minutes is added to every case for theatre changeover. If I start booking my own lists, I will start “squeezing in” cases because I will panic about:

  • 1) letting people down
  • 2) money
  • 3) waiting list times and patients going elsewhere

I know that my lists will be perfectly timed and booked and so I am relaxed every list. There is nothing worse than looking down a list of patients and thinking “I’ll never finish that by 530!” It stresses me out and I know that any patient would prefer a relaxed stress free surgeon than one who is stressed and rushing through the list.

That’s when mistakes happen. It’s when things go wrong. So in the long term it costs more time. Money? I never talk about it with patients. I like to separate money from healthcare. To me it’s important of course, but to take yourself out of the “bargaining position” is vital. Never apologise for what you charge, but doctors are famous for offering deals. Let your staff deal with managing patients and money.

Let your Practice manager decide a list of fees and stick to it. If there are returning patients, or friends and family, let your staff decide on discounts. Not you.

Concentrate on what you are good at. Be a doctor.

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