Best Practices: 3 Keys to Effective Captainships

Jul 6, 2022 | Business Development

Captainships Are a Powerful Tool

In today’s health care industry, engaged employees and efficient operations are critical but also harder to come by.

There’s a tool that — when wielded effectively — can work wonders in more than one area of your practice.

A captainship is a leadership avenue that gives your team members ownership of key practice responsibilities, develops them professionally, and elevates your practice’s efficiency.


1. Understand Why Captainships Matter

Growth through delegation

Business success requires role division and staff empowerment. Captainships deputize trusted staff to keep practice priorities — such as physician outreach, whiteboard meetings, and patient-care calls — top of mind and ensure they happen.


Efficiency through accountability

Captainships create ownership and, by extension, accountability — a strong motivator for most people. Suppose one of your priorities is patient-care follow-up calls, and your captain ensures this happens. The result? Patients start returning for evaluations, upgrades, or finally treating their diagnosed hearing loss.


Loyalty through empowerment

Your empowered staff flourish as engaged and productive team members. They begin to feel like key contributors to the success of the business. They also feel like you’re investing in their professional development. Both increase their sense of loyalty.

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2. Implement Captainships Strategically


Determine which captainships you need

Look at your top 10 practice priorities. There are certain ones only you can handle, but there are others that can be handled by staff — for example, process improvement.

Captainships are ideal for anything you haven’t found time to implement yet, such as regular whiteboard meetings or community outreach. Talk to your team — they might have ideas for adding value, such as developing a stronger social media presence or being more involved in chamber of commerce events.


Find the right person for the role

Assigning a captain for physician outreach is a cinch if you already have a team member with the knack, personality, and passion for it.

But what if there’s no perfect fit? Lead a team discussion about the value and goals of each captainship. Volunteers will often step up, whether they already have the aptitude or want to grow that skill set.

a spotlight shining on a woman in a crowd of silhouetted people


Set each captain up for success

It’s crucial that you and each captain align goals and clarify the support required for success. For example, when and how many calls should your patient-outreach captain make? Is block scheduling required to ensure success? Is additional training needed?

Create a captainship checklist for each captain that clearly specifies expectations, best practices, how to identify areas of opportunity, and how to address those opportunities. This builds accountability and increases the likelihood of success.


Provide feedback

Avoid surprises with regular check-ins. You can review progress, celebrate achievements, troubleshoot challenges, and confirm any next steps. Keep your captains motivated and effective — help them catch and overcome barriers to success early on.



Providing incentives for success is an excellent motivator. A compensation plan tailored to each captainship is one possibility. We can almost hear you thinking: “With reimbursement rates decreasing, it’s becoming difficult just to offer annual cost-of-living pay bumps. I can’t offer a captainship bonus too.”

It’s true — this industry is tough for trying to contain costs. One simple, effective, short-term solution is reducing your profit margin. Your staff will know you appreciate them, and you’ll reap the rewards in practice efficiency, staff professional development, and employee loyalty. Once the captainships prove fruitful, you can reassess your profit margin.

But you can incentivize in other ways, as well: “If you hit this benchmark in 60 days, you can leave early on Fridays for a month,” or a different option based on the employee’s goals.

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3. Revisit Captainships Regularly


Already have a program in place? Remember to regularly audit each captainship to make sure it’s still efficient and relevant. Go through the implementation method discussed here, even if your program has been up and running for some time.



If a captainship isn’t working out with a particular captain, don’t get discouraged. It may be a simple coaching opportunity. If the fit just isn’t right, recalibrate with someone else who may be a better match. You could also reconsider that specific captainship. Ask the team questions. Remember — one hiccup isn’t a sign that the whole program doesn’t work for your practice.

It's Possible to Attract, Retain, and Develop High-Quality Talent

A Real-Life Revenue Bump

We’ve seen some impressive results in practices that have implemented captainships.

In one case, revenue in 2017 was down by 44% in the wake of opening a second office and experiencing a drop in patient opportunities.

We helped them implement captainships, and we saw revenue increase 85% and opportunity flow double over the prior year.

Are you ready to achieve similar results in your practice?

Contact us for more information.