Creating a physician office “operations” manual

Businesses of all sizes are constantly trying to streamline operations so they can spend less money while improving productivity. And while it may not always seem like it, your practice is indeed a business. This means you should always be on the lookout for ways to make your practice more efficient.

One of the best ways to increase the efficiency of your entire practice is to create an operations manual. While you may think operations manuals are only for large corporations, even small medical practices benefit from the use of an operations manual.

For one, operations manuals set standards for all practice employees to follow. This negates some of the excuses employees may have for not performing their duties properly.

Manuals also help cut the costs of employee absenteeism. It’s been shown that unscheduled absenteeism costs employers ,600 per employee per year. Having an operations manual allows employees to fill in for one another in the event of an absence.

Additionally, manuals are handy in the training process. Instead of having to guide new employees personally through each operation, they have a guide to consult.

So how do you go about creating a medical office operations manual?


  • Take note of day-to-day operations. You may want to jump right into creating your operations manual, but that’s not recommended. Before you begin writing it, observe the daily operations of your practice for one to two weeks. This will give you a better idea of what your manual needs to cover.
  • Pay special attention to the table of contents. Make sure it is detailed. Use heading and subheadings to make specific tasks easier to find.
  • Create job descriptions. Although you may have kept your staff for years, turnover is inevitable. Having elaborate job descriptions in the manual helps ease the transition for new employees. Also, it helps resolve conflicts between employees butting heads over who does what.
  • Use office experts to create certain sections. If any employee is especially adept at a particular task, have that person write down an explanation and steps for it in the manual. Not only will said task be explained thoroughly, but that person will champion the task, ensuring everyone else performs it properly.
  • Be concise. Remember that an operations manual isn’t meant to be an exceptional piece of literature. It just needs to be useful and understandable.
  • Operationalize common situations. Certain things aren’t part of your operations, yet they still occur at times. For instance, include a section in your manual for dealing with frustrated patients.
  • Keep it open to revision. A key to an operations manual is that it needs to change with the times. Technologies and procedures change, so make sure to go back to the manual and update it at least once every six months.

If you’re looking to improve your practice, creating an operations manual should be one of the steps in your plan – even if you think your practice is fine without one. Creating an operations manual is a low-cost way to improve your practice from within.

Have questions? I’m here to help.