Did registrar complain? It's an opportunity

Give specifics on status of requests

Do you overhear registrars making remarks such as "We were slammed this morning!" or "We don't have enough staff today?" You'll need to re-evaluate your staffing levels to be sure the department is providing optimal coverage and customer service, says Kathleen Bowles, LSW, patient access supervisor at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.

"Staff concerns often lead to an improvement in a process or a policy," according to Bowles. "Giving feedback on complaints communicates that you value their input. This directly impacts staff retention."

Dana Anthony, manager of patient access in the emergency department at University of Mississippi Health Care in Jackson, gives these recommendations:

Avoid using the term "they" to refer to senior leadership.

Saying "they" gives the impression that a manager does not agree with administration's point of view, says Anthony. "This may have a negative impact on employee retention. It implies there's a division within the department, which does not build trust," she explains.

Consider inviting a registrar to a brief meeting so he or she can hear directly from senior leadership, suggests Anthony. "This reassures the registrar that he or she can trust the information being conveyed by the manager," she says.

Make it known that you have an open door policy.

"The employees shouldn't feel that they are always reporting to the 'principal's office,'" says Anthony.

Be clear that whatever is discussed won't be shared with other employees.

"Also, the employees should not reveal any confidential information that has been shared with them," says Anthony.

Update staff on the status of requests.

"Registrars often complain about not having adequate equipment to do their job," says Anthony, such as better printers or additional space.

Be upfront, if you don't think the request will be possible due to budget constraints. "Make the employees aware of the estimated cost of the items being requested," Anthony advises. "Make a joint effort to come up with a less costly alternative."

Sources

For more information on responding to complaints from registrars, contact:

• Kathleen Bowles, LSW, Patient Access Supervisor, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus. Phone: (614) 293-4679. Fax: (614) 293-5677. E-mail: Kathleen.Bowles@osumc.edu.

• James Carey, CHAA, Patient Access Manager, University of Utah Health Care, Salt Lake City. Phone (801) 587-4033. Fax: (801) 581-3827. E-mail: James.Carey@hsc.utah.edu.