Healthcare practitioners want to spend time delivering exceptional care, and practice managers make it possible. Whether running financial reports, interacting with patients, implementing information technology-based solutions that improve healthcare delivery or designing programs to minimize risks, practice managers make sure the business of healthcare runs smoothly. They also ensure that patients receive the best-possible care by providing exceptional customer service.
What Does a Practice Manager Do?
Practice managers contribute to positive patient experiences, improve staff and clinical personnel effectiveness, and support revenue growth by overseeing all aspects of the practice’s business operations — managing finance, human resources (HR), customer service and technology.
Practice managers run billing and accounting functions, manage annual budgets, negotiate payer contracts, and contribute to patient recruitment strategies to help maintain a healthy bottom line for the practice. They collaborate with practice clinical leadership to implement or expand new offerings for the practice, for example, helping to develop a telehealth practice. They stay on top of new medical developments and the latest governmental regulations and healthcare industry requirements.
A practice manager’s administrative responsibilities include maintaining medical equipment and supplies and managing patient care schedules. Additionally, they maintain accurate, accessible medical records, including electronic health records (EHRs).
From hiring and managing staff to ensuring positive experiences for patients, a practice manager’s duties translate well to non-medical settings, such as HR and customer service. For example, they serve as the face of the practice, regularly interacting with patients and vendors and resolving issues. Furthermore, a practice manager helps ensure safe, welcoming environments for patients and staff. Finally, as operational leaders, they manage HR processes, such as hiring and firing, establishing office policies, and keeping the staff compliant with licensing requirements.
A Look at the Practice Manager Salary
The typical median annual salary of a practice manager is $59,571 as of September 2019, according to PayScale. The practice manager salary can vary based on different factors, for example, education. At a minimum, practice managers have earned a bachelor’s degree in fields such as nursing and business. But it’s also common for candidates to have earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration, business management and others, which can be desirable for medical practices with multiple offices.
The practice manager salary also depends on experience. As of September 2019, PayScale reports that the median annual salary for entry-level candidates is $49,922, while that of experienced candidates with more than 20 years of experience is $64,248.
Job location can also affect total compensation. In some large metropolitan areas, such as Boston, New York and Chicago, for instance, practice managers earn approximately 23% to 26% more than the national median, according to PayScale. Cities with the lowest median practice manager salary include Dallas and Atlanta.
- Boston, Massachusetts: $75,443
- New York, New York: $74,767
- Chicago, Illinois: $73,692
- Atlanta, Georgia: $61,808
- Dallas, Texas: $58,772
The Skills of a Practice Manager
Practice managers have superior organizational skills; they use them to maintain schedules and manage patient paperwork and records. This enables clinical and administrative staff to securely and safely access necessary patient information while ensuring patient privacy. Advanced analytical and problem-solving skills are ideal traits in practice managers, who must maintain continuous operations even in the face of unforeseen challenges.
The practice manager role requires core competencies consistent with other health administration roles, including advanced interpersonal, communication and customer service skills to help provide exceptional patient experiences, whether in the office, on the phone or by email.
Practice managers interact with all kinds of people, so they should have competencies in managing all types of personalities, forging relationships and resolving workplace conflicts. As part of their supervisory responsibilities, practice managers train and motivate employees, so good verbal communication skills and a calm demeanor are essential for the role.
In addition to managing operations and interacting with others, medical practice managers need technology and math skills to work with EHR systems, manage scheduling systems, oversee billing and accounting functions, and check insurance claims.
Practice managers are typically well versed in medical terminology and relevant healthcare topics. In a rheumatology practice, for instance, the practice manager should understand issues related to rheumatology. Working in a healthcare setting means practice managers should demonstrate compassion toward patients, which can help improve patient outcomes.
Graduates of Duquesne University’s online Master of Health Administration program learn how to think critically and use statistical techniques to build strategic plans and measure results. Students enrolled in the program learn to communicate effectively, drive policy and procedure initiatives, and adhere to professional standards and codes of ethical behavior. The program focuses on preparing professionals with leadership skills to initiate improvements, address healthcare trends and inspire team members to follow the highest ethical standards.
Duquesne University’s online Master of Health Administration degree can help professionals pursue a career in practice management, cultivating advanced skills to lead successful healthcare operations. Explore how you can pursue career advancement as a practice manager or in a related role.