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Reference Desk September 2012

VHMA Releases 2012 Practice Analysis Results

    Survey Sheds Light on the Changing Role of the Practice Manager

    September 18, 2012---Are human resource skills and social media skills trumping practice organization as must-have skills for veterinary practice managers? A new survey conducted by the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), says yes! The survey evaluated the relevance and importance of skills in five areas. The VHMA’s certification body will use the findings to update its Certified Veterinary Practice Manager’s (CVPM) certification exam. But practice managers and owners will find the results useful in preparing and responding to changing demands on the practice manager’s position.  

    The Survey

    The online task survey was mailed to all current CVPMs and members of the VHMA. It consisted of 60 task statements that covered five job domains, which included:

    • Human Resources
    • Law and Ethics
    • Marketing and Public Relations
    • Finance and Accounting
    • Organization of the Practice

    Respondents were asked to indicate how frequently they performed tasks within the domains and to assess the importance of each task to their job performance.  The return rate was 17 percent and 226 responses were received.

    A Breakdown by Domain

    The precise tasks for each domain are listed in the following domain discussions. The criticality index was derived from the importance and frequency ratings. Importance ratings ranged from 0-3 (0 = does not apply to my job; 1 = slightly important; 2 = somewhat important; 3 = very important). The frequency rating, which referred to how often a tasks was performed, was also based on a scale of 0-3 (0 = never; 1 = seldom; 2 = sometimes; 3 = often).   

    Human Resources Domain

    The tasks listed under the human resources domain are: recruit, interview and hire, manage training and development (including safety training), scheduling, manage daily work assignments, conduct staff meetings, conduct employee performance reviews, mediate internal disputes, discipline/discharge employees, manage employee benefit programs, maintain confidential employee records and personnel files, create/update job descriptions and manuals, and manage staff continuing education and licensure.

    All of the human resources tasks received mean importance and frequency ratings above 2.0, indicating that they are considered at least moderately important and performed on a fairly regular basis. In addition, the low standard deviation for the highest-ranked items indicates strong agreement among respondents on these tasks. Recruiting and hiring personnel ranked as the most important task while maintaining employee records and files was the most frequent task in this category. The mean importance rating for the 10 human resources tasks was 2.56, and the mean frequency rating was 2.44, both of which were the highest across the five job domains.

    Marketing and Public Relations Domain

    The tasks in the marketing and public relations domain are: manage practice promotional materials, develop and manage advertising, website development and management, manage social media, manage community outreach, monitor client retention, develop and manage new client programs, handle client complaints, obtain and report client feedback on service, respond to client questions, develop and maintain client reminder system, and manage client education.

    The marketing task statements referred to internal and external marketing, client services, and client education. Client services tasks received the highest ratings and handling client complaints and responding to client questions were identified as the most important and frequent tasks. Website development and management was the fifth most important task in this cluster and the most important of the marketing tasks. Traditional marketing tasks (e.g., advertising and developing promotional material) were considered moderately important in this survey. Managing client education, although falling within the spectrum of important tasks, was not among the most critical tasks.

    Finance and Accounting Domain

    Covered under the financing and accounting domain are the following tasks: analyze practice and financial reports, manage payroll, manage accounts payable/receivable, budgeting and long-term planning, establishing and reinforcing customer credit policies, fee analysis, oversee daily and monthly banking procedures, maintain charts of accounts, and manage petty cash account.

    Overall, finance and accounting tasks, with the exception of managing petty cash accounts, were rated as at least somewhat important and frequent. Establishing credit policies, analyzing practice reports, and fee analysis were the most important tasks in this domain.

    Law and Ethics Domain

    Law and ethics tasks cover: file reports with regulatory agencies, verify that practices are in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations, monitor hospital for safety violations and dangerous situations, maintain knowledge of state safety regulations, document report accidents and file appropriate reports, verify compliance with appropriate code of ethics, establish legal contacts for staff and associates, obtain informed consent from clients, establish contracts with clients, ensure compliance with employment law, verify employee benefit insurance coverage complies with the law, update knowledge of workers’ comp and employment tax code, update knowledge of employment and labor law, protect confidentiality of patients, clients, etc., develop practices to protect the practice’s client list, and verify that hospital practices are conducted in accordance with federal law.

    All but one of the 16 task statements in this domain had a mean importance rating above 2.0. There is high agreement among respondents that keeping the practice in compliance with employment law and safety regulations is an important part of their job. Some activities (e.g., filing reports with regulatory agencies such as OSHA) were reported as not being done frequently, but were rated as important nonetheless.

    Organization of the Practice Domain

    The tasks under organization of the practice are: develop and manage inventory systems, track orders, research new products, oversee facility maintenance, contract for repairs, ensure insurance coverage, maintain medical record standards, oversee technology, liaison with professional services, maintain risk management system, and oversee policy/procedure manual.

    Nine of the 11 task statements in this domain had a mean rating above 2.0 for both importance and frequency. Three tasks in particular were seen as important: creating/updating procedures and policy manual, maintaining and ensuring compliance with medical record standards, and managing inventory systems. Two tasks received low importance and frequency ratings: researching new products and creating/updating risk management systems.

    Summary and Significance

    In general, all tasks listed within the survey were determined to be legitimate job responsibilities; however, some were identified more frequently than others. Specifically, the most relevant and important job domain was human resources while practice organization was cited least often. When tasks are ranked individually and not within domain, human resources tasks dominate the list. Thirty-five percent (7 of 20) of the top 20 critical tasks are in the human resources domain. These results suggest that among the most critical elements of the veterinary practice manager’s job are tasks within human resources and should therefore be one of the areas most heavily rated on the CVPM exam. Overall, the 20 critically rated tasks fell within human resources, law ethics and marketing and public relations. In this survey, marketing and public relations tasks were more significant than in past years due primarily to the impact of social media and website development tasks that managers are performing more routinely.

    For a copy of the complete report, go to http://tinyurl.com/9v956ho.

    To visit the VHMA website go to www.vhma.org.

    Editor’s note:  To schedule an interview about this study, contact Beth Drost or Leza Raffel at 215-884-6499.

    Source: Veterinary Hospital Managers Association


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