How to Run Productive PT Staff Meetings
Mastering the art of meetings is an essential skill that department heads and PTs need to run a successful physical therapy practice. And while sharing information is the most common reason to hold meetings, it’s possible to use them as a tool to encourage staff collaboration, accountability, and practice productivity.
So, how can you consistently run excellent PT staff meetings?
Read on to find out how to consistently nail everything from the pre-meeting prep to the after-meeting memo.
The age-old idiom “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is especially true when holding a proper PT staff meeting. Without focus, an agenda, timeline, and the correct supporting documents, it’s difficult to inspire change or convey information within an organization. Here are the early stages of meeting preparation that will set you up for success:
Determine What Type of Meeting You’re Having
At its most basic form, meetings are gatherings to convey information, share ideas, and collaborate in an organized setting. The overarching goal of your meetings should be to add, revise and update your team on a range of topics. They can help entire physical therapist teams, administrative departments, marketing efforts, and everything else in your clinic become more polished.
There are many different forms and timelines for holding meetings. However, for simplicity’s sake, your meetings can be daily, weekly, monthly, or off-the-cuff irregular meetings to address specific circumstances. For instance, when Medicaid programs started reimbursing live video telehealth services, that’s a wonderful opportunity to meet about your practice’s process moving forward—an example of an irregular, specific circumstance. On the contrary, if you have a weekly briefing with your team of PTs, establishing a controlled and consistent approach could encourage a better flow of ideas.
Whatever purpose practice owners or department heads have for a meeting—define them—then determine the meeting frequency that supports those goals.
Build a Meeting Agenda & Timeline
Everyone’s time is valuable, and if you respect that fact, meetings will be more impactful. Create an agenda that fulfills the meeting’s goals and consider how long it will take to cover each topic. Concise meetings that contain engaging material are often more effective because of diminishing interest over time. The goals of the gathering will determine length but try to keep it under 60 minutes for better results.
Once you’ve outlined what information you’ll need to cover, consider factors outside of your control like Q&A sessions, brainstorming efforts, and other communicative practices you’ll need to manage to get the most out of the session. A great way to convey specificity and direction to your audience is by including phrases like “For discussion” or “For decision” in the meeting agenda. This will limit distractions and prepare the group to act accordingly.
Provide Supplementary Aides
The agenda should be passed out to each meeting attendee and contain detailed information about what you intend to cover. Say there are new coverage areas for Medicare that will impact your physical therapy practice (like the example provided earlier) include the Code of Federal Regulations and any other supporting documents necessary. If there’s a new piece of equipment, bring it to the meeting and demonstrate. And if there’s a new physical therapy software implemented, plan on showing your audience proper use.
Conducting the Meeting
After you’ve done the research and preparations, the job becomes more of an orator and chairperson. The focus should be to stay on point with the agenda, hold a meaningful conversation, and move from topic to topic. The goal of the meeting will determine your conduct—whether to personally showcase the information or solicit ideas from staff, co-workers, or colleagues.
Follow the Plan
You’ve done the heavy lifting in the premeeting preparations; now it’s time to execute. Stay on track and know how many questions (if any) you can facilitate throughout the agenda. Identify how long you’ve allocated for each section by taking notes and writing downtimes to steer the meeting confidently to the finish line.
Structuring Group Discussions
Good meetings aren’t usually a one-sided conversation, and they often require the organizer to provide a setting where members can have a structured discussion. This structured discussion comes in many shapes and sizes, but an excellent way to remember proper form is to compare it to a patient’s initial evaluation.
Treating a meeting like a first-time patient visit can help you identify important historical data, diagnose, and solve issues:
What’s the Issue?
Define the issue requiring further discussion.
How Long Has It Been an Issue?
Define how long the issue has been happening in the clinic. What’s the history behind the problem? The idea is to help the staff identify past attempts to remedy the situation and not repeat ineffective solutions.
Let’s Have a Look
This stage is the hands-on portion of the assessment, like determining the balance, range of motion, or strength of a patient. What current actions are in motion to solve the issue, and are they effective?
Get to the Heart of the Matter
While you might not be involved in the diagnosis in real life, let’s say you’ve determined the patient has a spine issue. At this point, the group has expanded on the issue in length—meaning the next logical step is to make a diagnosis. Define the core problem that needs solving.
Find a Path Forward
Once the history and diagnosis are complete, the group can discuss how to solve the issue. Often discussions will start at this point and miss relevant steps taken along the way. By fleshing out the history of the problem and past/present actions, you can reach meaningful conclusions quickly.
After the meeting, send out the meeting minutes in a concise email. Include the attendee names, time and date, agenda items discussed, and conclusions drawn from the discussion. If there are assignments involved, name the person responsible.
Meetings can be impactful, but only if the conclusions and discussions drawn from them are followed. If you conduct a meeting and none of the findings are assigned to staff members, it’s tough to justify holding the meeting in the first place. This summary of each session ensures every party is clear on their assignment and can provide opportunities for one-on-one discussions—if necessary—to accomplish the task.
The Bottom Line
Determining the objective(s) is key to running a flawless PT staff meeting. Establishing a goal will tell you what preparations you need to make, including who to invite in the first place. Create an agenda to solve the goal. Then, follow it carefully and structure group discussions to gain valuable input. Respecting the time of present employees and summarizing the minutes makes meetings more impactful.
If you feel like the meetings you’re holding are more reactive and less proactive, it might be time to optimize your PT practice management toolkit. We offer a full suite of physical therapy software solutions for practice owners who want to stress less, make more, and hold less reactive meetings. Check out our free demo to find out how MWTherapy can make a difference for busy practice owners who need an all-in-one solution.