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Offer staff opportunity to move within department
Encourage employees to apply
Offering large salary increases or promotions is probably not an option to improve retention, even for your most irreplaceable staff members. However, it's possible that staff might jump at the chance for a lateral move within the patient access department, according to Sherrie Woodmancy, service director for patient billing and financial services at University of Utah Health Care in Salt Lake City.
Woodmancy's patient access department has two tiers, with staff often coming in at the lower tier. After an employee gains some experience, she says, he or she typically applies for the higher tier.
Woodmancy has a team that is responsible for authorizations and insurance eligibility that is one grade lower than the rest of her staff. The higher tier has responsibilities for admissions, bed placement, financial counseling, ED registration and discharge, and transplant-related functions, she says. If there is an open position, staff members are given preference over someone from the outside, adds Woodmancy. "Staff are free to apply for open positions within the department at any time, as long as they are in good standing with the department and have been in their current role for at least six months," she says.
When there is a vacancy in either tier, the position is posted, says Woodmancy. Usually, positions in Tier 1 are filled from the outside, she says, and positions in Tier 2 are filled with someone who is in a Tier 1 position in the department. "Additionally, some of my supervisors have been promoted from a Tier 1 to Tier 2 to supervisor and even to a manager," says Woodmancy. One current manager started with an insurance verification position, was promoted to a financial counselor, became a supervisor over the Tier 1 team, and is now a manager over financial counseling and ED registration.
"She is young, bright, and very successful, and one of my best managers," says Woodmancy. "Part of the reason why she is successful is that she fully understands what goes on at the staff level. That is very effective in process improvement projects."
Woodmancy says that occasionally, staff members want to change roles because of factors in their personal lives, such as school schedules conflicting with their work schedule. In this case, she says, "we try our best to meet their needs. We do offer flexible schedules where we can."
The Tier 1 staff can begin work as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 9:30 a.m., says Woodmancy. "Just for that very reason, they may choose to stay where they are because it fits with family life," she says.
When staff members move from one role to another, they inevitably gain more knowledge and experience, which is good for the department, says Woodmancy. "We have regular discussions about different roles within the department," she adds. "We will allow staff to shadow another staff in a different role if they are interested."
For more information about patient access roles, contact:
Sherrie Woodmancy, Patient Billing and Financial Services, University of Utah Health Care, Salt Lake City. Phone: (801) 581-2149. E-mail: Sherrie.Woodmancy@hsc.utah.edu.