Medical assistants and initiative: the motivation exists

Facts and figures on the German health care system.

What it is about

If one compares the statements of practice owners and medical assistants in company comparison studies, one notices a high discrepancy with regard to the self-initiative and independent completion of tasks. Among the weaknesses of the work, the doctors cite that the assistants constantly need detailed instructions on what to do. The assistants, on the other hand, complain that they are constantly being told what to do and that there is no room for initiative and self-direction.

Measuring the differences in perception

Using a scale, the doctors indicate the extent to which they prefer tasks to be set for them („0“) or to be completed independently („100“). The staff members are also asked about the extent to which they would prefer to be given tasks („0“) or to carry them out independently („100“).

The concrete effects on everyday practice

If one compares the two observations, the size of the productivity gap of a doctor’s practice and – aggregated over all the practices studied – of doctor’s practices in general can be determined. For general practitioners‘ practices, the average doctor preference is a value of just under 28%, whereas the average of the demands of medical assistants is a score of 82%. The consequences are directly noticeable in everyday practice:

  • Demotivation of the staff
  • Insufficient quantitative and qualitative task completion
  • High stress levels for all team members
  • Poor working atmosphere
  • Dissatisfied patients.

Practice owners are guided by assumptions

The practice owners explain the low consideration of staff requirements primarily with the need to ensure quality of service. But only in the fewest cases have bad experiences prompted them to act in this way; rather, their decision is based on a basic conviction without concrete evidence. In the few cases where medical assistants were not able to perform the tasks assigned to them independently, the detailed analysis shows that skills and requirements did not match, i.e. the reason was an inadequate care for delegation on the part of the doctors.

Insights help

In addition to the aspect described above, there are numerous constellations of practice management whose misalignments can significantly limit productivity. GPs and specialists can check these quite easily and without the need for an on-site consultant. The tool for this is the Practice Management Comparison©.