A typical practice includes physicians, medical assistants, nurses or nurse practitioners, x-ray technicians, physician assistants, and others. However, nonmedical staff members and external support providers play integral roles in many practices’ operations. They can make all the difference in quality of care and profitability. Here are a few examples:

Office manager. This person is, arguably, the most important nonmedical staff member. A good office manager should handle many, if not most, administrative and supervisory tasks. This frees up the physicians to do what only they can do — practice medicine. Ensure your office manager is subject to regular performance reviews, including 360-degree staff feedback, so you can objectively assess whether he or she is getting the job done.

Information technology (IT) specialist. Often, the office manager (or the physician in a very small practice) is the person who handles any IT issues. However, sometimes serious expertise is required. If you don’t have a dedicated IT employee, consider engaging an IT consultant to handle any sudden or recurring IT issues.

Insurance agent. An agent who understands your practice (and you, personally) can help you find the right coverage at the right price. He or she should also understand the risks and issues associated with health care in your specific area, ideally providing immediate and personalized answers to your questions.

Marketing director or manager. Marketing is an important component of any successful medical practice. If you have a large practice with multiple physicians or even several locations, you should strongly consider hiring a marketing-focused employee or engage an outside firm that specializes in health care providers. However, for many smaller, one- or two-person practices, the cost of a full-time marketing staffer or marketing firm isn’t feasible. Nonetheless, you still need someone to develop internal and external promotional and marketing activities, coordinate campaigns, and conduct analysis and follow-up.

Health law attorney. Medical law is complex and constantly changing. It also varies from state to state. Having a reliable relationship with a health law attorney can help you set up compliant practices, minimize risks and resolve legal problems if they do occur.

Billing specialist. Some physicians prefer to keep billing in-house. However, engaging a third-party provider to handle billing may be wise because health care insurance has complex and everchanging administrative and regulatory compliance requirements. Keeping up with the rules and regulations can be a full-time job, and not every physician practice is able to hire or retain someone able to do it.