Patient access areas at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, NH, have seen these benefits from cross-training:

• Coverage usually can be provided at no additional cost to the department.

“We try to remain budget neutral as much as possible, but that is not always an option,” reports Jennifer A. White, director of patient access.

Staff members clock into the department they are being cross-trained for, which is an additional expense. “But if we can cover the department the trainee came from without calling in coverage, then we can remain neutral,” says White.

• Employees feel more valuable to the team, which helps reduce turnover.

“Two of our employees have been in patient access for 14 years,” says White. The newest employee has been there for a year. Other employees range from three to seven years.

White attributes the department’s low turnover rate, in part, to cross-training and the opportunity for advancement that it represents. “In order to start advancing past the Registrar 2 Level in the department’s Registration Ladder, staff need to be cross-trained,” she explains. To advance to the Registrar 3 Level, employees need to be cross-trained in at least three departments.

“It is not easy to put a monetary value on our savings, but it boosts staff morale,” says White.

• Patients don’t have to deal with an employee filling in who isn’t adequately trained.

“It is seamless to the patient when someone is out, whether scheduled or unscheduled,” says White. “Patients do not see a breakdown, and it does not affect patient flow.”