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Use indicators to inspire 'friendly competition'
Editor's Note: This is the second of a two-part series on use of performance indicators in patient access. This month, we tell you how to use these data as tools to motivate staff. Last month, we covered ways to develop the most effective scorecards.
When staff productivity is tracked with indicators, a "friendly competition" often results, such as staff competing to see who has the most point-of-service collections.
"While many individuals in patient access are not initially comfortable with the collections process, when they begin seeing results within their teams as well as across the organization, they want to perform better," says Jeff Roche, a manager at Accenture's Lancaster, PA, office. Roche has worked with a number of hospitals to develop key performance indicators for patient access.
"They feel that they are providing a service that assists the hospital's bottom line, as well as helps to communicate a patient's liability for service in a more patient-centric method," says Roche.
Roche acknowledges that effective scorecards are sometimes difficult to implement, such as getting consensus on what to measure and how to measure it. "But the value that it provides - the ability to quickly demonstrate value and/or where problems may be - is huge."
Most organizations do not even have broad scorecards, let alone one specific to patient access. "So when one is finally developed, organizations are overwhelmed by the positive reaction and improvements made," says Roche. "Now all departments are held accountable to similar standards and performance metrics."
Show improvements over time
According to John Woerly, RHIA, CHAM, senior manager at Accenture in Indianapolis, key performance indicators are "an important ingredient in continuous performance improvement initiatives."
As such, information should be shared with key stakeholders, as well as staff, who can contribute to improvements, says Woerly.
"One of the best ways is to post graphs showing improvements over time," says Woerly.
Indicators also can be used to stretch performance and to motivate staff to reach new goals, by depicting improvements over a course of time. "The access management staff could motivate performance by setting strategic goals along the way. Then, celebrate accomplishments as they are met," says Woerly. "Celebrations could be anywhere from a pizza party, $5 gift card, letter of accommodation in the employee's HR file or a simple and much-appreciated thank you."
The sample point-of-service collections data for a satellite laboratory registration site, developed by Woerly, shows process improvements in January through April, but begs one to ask: "What happened in May and June?"
In this particular case, May and June saw a new computer system being installed, vacations, and staff turnover. "Having this data on hand and in a timely manner, allowed adjustments to be made to allow July to rebound into a positive month for collections," says Woerly. "It also provided some 'hindsight' knowledge - perhaps we should have over-staffed in May and June in preparation of a new system installation. Data are powerful, if used properly."
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