We all want to contribute to the success of our respective organizations. A mentor of mine once imparted to me a simple management tenet that helped me over the years to do just that. He said, “Employees determine what is important based on how you spend your time”. Because my mentor was a brilliant healthcare leader and a great human being, I took this seriously and felt compelled to interpret his subtle advice. Here is what he really told me:
When people embrace importance, they act accordingly. In the workplace, when employees recognize that what they do is important and/or that their work will result in something important to their organization, they get engaged. This translates to creativity, harmony, efficiency, ownership and stability.
When people are asked to participate in tasks and activities that are not perceived as important, the result is very different, particularly in light of the generational diversity in the workplace today. If you want to test that, ask a GEN Y employee to do something without some explanation of purpose and why it is important. Or for baby boomers, a great example was the scene in the old movie “Cool Hand Luke” where a prisoner was repeatedly asked to dig a hole then fill it back in again to “break” him. It was not important and so the prisoner continued efforts to escape until his death, certainly not the behavior the warden was after.
The key question then, is how do employees determine what is important? It is less based on things like what a manager writes in a memo, what the manager says or posts on the wall. It is how the manager spends his/her time. Here are a couple examples:
- In patient financial services, account documentation is an important part of the work process. In our revenue cycle consulting practice, we review work samples as part of our discovery process. That means looking at accounts. When we find absent or poor documentation and ask the business office manager about it, we find that they do not routinely look at a sufficient sample of accounts to have made the observation on their own. Employees no longer think it’s important so either discontinue writing up account history or do a hap-hazard job. Spend more time randomly reviewing account stratifications and discussing findings with employees. It becomes important and documentation improves.
- Most hospital controllers and hospital chief financial officers would concur that maintaining logs is an important function. At the beginning of the fiscal year, they tell the accounting staff it is important and back it up with a memo or email. Fast forward as other priorities emerge over the course of the year. The CFO spends time working on the bond issue or the new building project and deploys the accounting staff accordingly. The accounting staff perceives those issues must be important and does a great job supporting those initiatives. Now it is time to do the cost report, the logs are summoned and we learn they have not been maintained since the second quarter. Nobody asked to see them or otherwise spent time on the logs all year.
- The idea is to consider how you spend your time in the context of how your presence influences what people think is important. We can’t be everywhere and certainly there is nothing wrong with job descriptions, emails, memos, verbal direction and other communications. Just bear in mind that at the top of the communication hierarchy is “how you spend your time”.
In overview, you might want to reflect on how you have invested your time and presence over the recent month. Another effective way to assess what employees think is important is to ask them casually and privately, then listen carefully to what they say (not a survey that gives them a lot of time to construe what you want to hear in lieu of what they really think). Perhaps the result would represent an opportunity for you to rethink or fine-tune your management practices
as I did.
Over recent years, approximately two thirds of those hired in healthcare management positions were acquired through a search firm. Most hiring authorities and HR professionals are therefore acquainted with the significant differences among these firms and the various levels of service they provide. That said, there are a number of reasons healthcare provider organizations use search firms and the following is a brief summary you might find useful in confirming the value of such services:
- Search professionals help you access “hidden candidates”. These are candidates who are very happy in the current employment scenario. They typically do not have the time or interest to look at ads and they would not answer them if they did. They are not looking for jobs. Often, these are highly desirable candidates for obvious reasons. Through research and other techniques, competent recruiters identify and build relationships with hidden candidates on your behalf.
- Search professionals help you avert “sight seers”, people interviewing without serious interest or compatibility. This saves you considerable time, money and aggravation.
- Search professionals help you by bringing “confidence” in the probability that a candidate you are working with would accept the position if offered. Issues like compensation, relocation, family/personal matters and others are addressed by the firm before you advance too much time and energy in the process of considering the candidate.
- Search professionals uphold the highest standards of “confidentiality” in all they do. That allows them to conduct search activities inside your organization as well as individuals you have targeted outside of your organization but were reluctant to pursue directly for various reasons.
- Search professionals are experts in “on-boarding” and can assist you with this process. On-boarding is a critical element of a successful transition of the newly hired candidate into your organization. It is well documented that organizations that have adopted an active on-boarding process experience fewer failed hiring attempts.
The above is only a summary. If you would like to discuss this topic further or you have comments, please feel free to contact Nearterm at 281-646-1330.
There is no “cookie cutter” solution because the factors contributing to processing backlogs vary. Here are just a few:
- System conversion
- Limited labor pool
- Space constraints
- Volume increase
- Training deficits
- Ineffective work flow design
- Change in payor requirement
- IT problems
The first step is to understand the root cause of the backlog and establish (a) an acceptable timeframe for resolving the backlog and (b) a mechanism to prevent recurrence. The result is almost always a determination that part of the game plan should include additional resources. That is when the question of options becomes critical. Conventional options have summarily included:
- Hire more staff and accept the time required to train them to the point where they are effective
- Outsource to a vendor with a remote processing venue
- Bring in skilled temps (interim collector, interim biller)
- Some combination of the above
There is another viable option not mentioned above that is very effective – REMOTE AR SPECIALIST. This would be a highly skilled, experienced collector, biller or insurance follow-up person(s) that would work from home with access to the provider system. Typically, this resource would initially work at the provider site for a short time getting familiar with the systems, people, policies and other critical orientations. Work standards would be established and the AR SPECIALIST would then work from home, saving travel cost and eliminating the need for work space at the facility. This very contemporary approach is available through Nearterm Corporation and has worked very well for many provider organizations.