A simpler way to keep employees from wasting time on the web

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You probably need to give employees access to the Internet so they can do their jobs, such as checking payer websites. But you might also worry that they're wasting hours on non-work-related web surfing. 

According to a recent Medscape Today article, there are many ways a practice can structure employees' access to specific websites and technologies. For example, practices can install relatively inexpensive software that allows employees to access just websites listed on an approved "white list" or keep people off of prohibited sites that they "black list." These settings can be specified to meet the needs of each employee group.

Web-monitoring technology, on the other hand, may cause more trouble than it's worth, according to Medscape's sources.

There may be a simpler--if counter-intuitive--solution to this human resources problem. 

Rather than putting in the effort required to watch every keystroke, Howard Luks, M.D., a solo orthopedic surgeon in Hawthorne, New York, recommended a far simpler approach, according to the article.

"It's easy to walk around and see what everyone is doing," he said. "You can quickly find out what people have up on their screens."

Physical oversight of out-of-the way workstations has to be very deliberate, added Susanne Madden, president and CEO of the Verden Group, a practice management consultant in Nyack, New York. "The practice manager should routinely pop by the front desk and workstations unannounced," she told Medscape.

But while you should discourage employees from abusing Internet privileges while on the job, a recent study from PLos ONE found that strict Internet-usage policies only make employees more tempted to surf. According to the researchers, a better alternative to banning personal web use is to give employees Internet breaks similar to cigarette or coffee breaks, Phys.Org reported.

To learn more:
- read the article from Medscape Today
- see the story from Phys.Org
- check out the study from PLoS ONE

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