Patient access employees who work nights and weekends often feel disconnected from their day shift counterparts. Often, they want more face-to-face time with leaders. Managers recommend these morale boosters:
- Occasionally work off-shifts.
- Round in the emergency department whenever you’re working late.
- Schedule multiple staff meetings to cover all shifts.
Several years ago, Shelita Russ, CHAM, director of patient access services at New Orleans-based Ochsner Baptist Medical Center and Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner (LA), held a pizza party to celebrate a departmental achievement. Her team had met its point-of-service collection goals for the quarter.
When Russ let the night shift know there was plenty of pizza still available for them, she got a less-than-enthusiastic response. “I was trying to doing something good for the team, but it wasn’t received that way,” she says. “They didn’t want to eat a leftover box of pizza from an earlier celebration.”
Patient access employees working off-shifts often feel disconnected from the day-to-day operations of the department. “Off-shift employees are just as important as employees that work days. But there is often that divide of the day shift versus the night shift,” says Russ. “That is something I learned the hard way.”
Whenever a pizza celebration is held for patient access during the daytime, Baptist/Kenner’s managers now schedule a separate late-night pizza delivery for the off shifts. “The leadership team will call in and pay over the phone,” says Russ. “The pizza is delivered to the staff, or the supervisor picks up the pizza and personally delivers it to the staff.”
A yearly picnic is held for patient access week on a Saturday, which the emergency department night shift missed out on. “But leadership actually delivers the team’s plates, along with any additional ‘goodies’ that they may have missed,” says Russ.
Spotting patient access leaders rounding in the department in the middle of the night goes a long way with off-shift registrars. “By spending 15 minutes with them, they feel acknowledged,” Russ says.
Whenever a patient access supervisor works late for any reason, he or she always checks in with ED registrars working the night shift. In addition, a senior patient access manager has an overlapping shift once every pay period that covers several hours of the night shift.
“Instead of working 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., she works from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to catch that team and watch their processes,” says Russ. “This ensures that processes stay consistent with the processes that we have during the day.”
If there is a workflow change, the senior representative works the night shift to assist the team and answer any questions about the new process. Recently, there was a change in the way staff captured a patient’s email address during the registration process. “During leader observations and account audits, it was discovered that not all second shift staff were compliant to the new process,” says Russ. “Management was able to perform real-time corrections.”
Even if off-shift employees have only very basic requests, such as needing notepad paper, they appreciate being able to convey the request in person. “Sometimes they have problems that don’t affect the team during the day,” adds Russ.
Recently, ED registrars expressed that they were very cold during frigid winter nights because the automatic doors were opening constantly. The problem was addressed by having a single door open instead of both doors.
Occasionally, employees bring up sensitive issues with managers that they would be reluctant to express in emails or voicemails. Even if the employee has no concerns at all, simply seeing leaders makes a difference. “That visual of a leader rounding in their area makes them feel more of a connection,” says Russ.
At Cape Coral (FL) Hospital, three staff meetings are now held so all shifts can attend. (See related story in this issue on encouraging off-shift employees to attend staff meetings.) Registration services manager Jamie Bruner does these things to help off-shifts to feel connected to their colleagues:
- Staff are broken up into small groups.
Because three staff meetings are held, smaller groups are attending each meeting. About 20 employees attend the first two meetings, and eight attend the third one.
“With the smaller groups, there is no need for break-out sessions,” says Bruner. “The group is small enough for everyone to get involved.”
- Staff members are asked to bring an item from home and share what it means to them.
“This is a form of adult show-and-tell that brings a bit of fun in smaller groups,” says Bruner. “It gives employees an opportunity to connect.”
One employee brought in a picture of herself as a waitress when she was younger and worked in a casino. “This was not something the team expected from this employee,” says Bruner. “It helped others see there was a lighter, fun side to her personality, which is what I believe she hoped to accomplish.”
- Jamie Bruner, Manager, Registration Services, Cape Coral (FL) Hospital. Phone: (239) 424-2659. Fax: (239) 424-4075. Email: Jamie.Bruner@LeeMemorial.org.
- Shelita Russ, CHAM, Director, Patient Access Services, Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, New Orleans/Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner (LA). Phone: (504) 894-2912. Email: email@example.com.