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Updating Your Holiday Staff Schedule? Here's What AAOE Members Are Doing

Thursday, November 9, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyssa DelPrete, AAOE Communications
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Practice administrators constantly make important decisions to effectively run their practice. In the grand scheme, holiday staff schedules may fall somewhat low on the list of things keeping administrators up at night, but it’s a decision that not only impacts staff and physicians, but also patients. And when it comes down to it, making a fair schedule isn’t always black and white.

In a survey conducted by the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE), only 8% of orthopaedic practice executives indicated that they close on a Monday if a holiday falls on a Tuesday. Interestingly, more (22%) said they close on a Friday if a holiday is on a Thursday. However, the majority shared that they close on a Friday if a holiday occurs on a Saturday (87%) and that they close on a Monday if the holiday is on Sunday (89%). The survey results are based on 236 responses.

Administrators who participated in the survey offered various reasons for their holiday schedule policies. Some strictly abide by the national holidays, while others take a case-by-case (or holiday-by-holiday) approach. Others ask staff for feedback or rely on physician schedules and input.

Joseph Mathews, PT, DPT, CSCS, Practice Administrator at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Houston, Texas, aligns his holiday schedule with the building's schedule. The decision is a practical one. Two years ago, when he kept his practice open on a day when the building’s property management office was closed, there was nobody to assist when help was needed. Now, Mathews closes his practice on the days that the building staff are out.

The building follows the standard practice of closing on a Friday if the holiday is Saturday and observing the holiday on Monday if it falls on Sunday. However, Mathews says that there is a chance for “extra days.”

“Two years ago, Christmas was on a Friday, and the doctors decided to give off on Thursday,” he shares.

Giving additional days off typically depends on the practice’s financial performance that year. He says that 2014, when they closed on Christmas Eve, “had been a good year” for the practice.

Shellie Clayton, Practice Administrator at IMS Orthopedics in Phoenix, Arizona, takes a slightly different approach. She, too, plans the holiday schedule for the entire year, but she tries to take advantage of “the opportunity to turn the weekend into four days” around a holiday.

“A big thing for our practice is recognition for staff and acknowledgement, so we’re always looking for a good work/life balance for our staff,” she says.

While staff appreciation drives Clayton’s decision to give additional days off, it isn't the only reason. There are practical reasons for allowing extra time off around the holidays.

“We have historically found that patients don’t necessarily pay attention to the date that you give them when it’s far enough in advance,” she explains.

For instance, when a patient is scheduling an appointment in December, he may receive a call on July 2 reminding him about his July 3 appointment, and only then realize that’s the day before the Fourth of July. Clayton has found that creating their holiday schedule with days off around the holiday has been beneficial, because they lose money when patients cancel or don't show up for appointments. 

Clayton's practice strategically plans how appointments are scheduled before and after they close to ensure they remain budget conscious.

“The week before or the week of the holiday, you can increase your schedules to have three or four additional patients per provider, and then one additional case per provider in the OR,” she explains. This planning allows them to stay on budget even when closing for additional days around a holiday.

Clayton, who falls in the 8% of practices closing the Monday before a Tuesday holiday, recognizes that developing holiday schedules isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Her advice for other practice administrators? “Listen to your staff and see what’s being done in the market.”

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