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Poor morale of patient access employees might stem from something as simple as a dress code. Patient access leaders must put staff feedback to good use.
Patient access employees at Integris Health in Oklahoma City, OK, weren’t shy about letting their feelings be known regarding the department’s dress policy.
“We consistently heard they were being mistaken for clinical team members because they were wearing scrubs. We also consistently heard they didn’t want to be told what to wear,” says Amber J. Harris, administrative director of patient-centered access.
The department’s policy required female patient access employees to wear black pants, a black scrub jacket, and a shirt of their choice. Male employees wore a shirt, tie, slacks, and black scrub jacket. “We adopted a policy that simply states, ‘Patient access team members will dress professionally,’” says Harris. “The reaction was fantastic. They like the freedom to look nice and show their individuality.”
Simple changes such as this one can have a dramatic morale-boosting effect, but managers need to act on feedback to satisfy staff, says Harris.
Patient access leaders at Slidell, LA-based Ochsner Healthcare assess employee satisfaction in these ways:
Employees are asked to agree or disagree with these statements about their managers:
— “My supervisor regularly gives me feedback on my work performance.”
— “I would recommend my supervisor to others as a good leader.”
— “The evaluation of my job performance by my supervisor is fair and objective.”
The manager’s score is compared to the “Best in Class” scoring for the healthcare industry. For example, the Best in Class score is 75 for the question on receiving feedback on work performance. “Proudly, I have one patient access manager that scored 77 for performance feedback and 94 as being fair and objective,” reports Tanya Powell, CHAM, director of patient access for Ochsner’s Northshore Region Facility and Clinics.
A red light indicates the department has complications in meeting a goal. A yellow light indicates that the department is making progress toward a goal. A green light indicates that the goal was met.
“It allows the staff to understand our level of focus and keeps them updated,” says Powell. A very large bulletin board, hung prominently in each registration area, posts department metrics including satisfaction scores and point-of-service collections.
Powell recently completed a project measuring the effectiveness of communication in patient access. [The department’s computerized graphic presentation is included with the online issue. For assistance in accessing the online issue, contact customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 688-2421. Also see related story in this issue on using email surveys to assess staff satisfaction with communication.]
Here are three questions that are asked, and feedback is given by staff:
1. What is working well within the department? Staff asked that the house supervisor assist with coordinating patient transport. They also reported that they were continually distracted by employees in other departments. Preoperative nurses and laboratory technicians would frequently ask the registration clerk if they knew where a patient or order was, when the registration clerk was with another patient.
“It was constant interruptions,” says Powell. “Now they have to go to the supervisor to inquire. We determine if a rep needs to be interrupted, or we look up the information ourselves.”
2. Do you have the tools and resources to perform your job?
Insurance verifiers were frustrated because scanners could be used only by one person at a time. The scanners were reprogrammed for multiple users.
3. What areas require focus and attention?
Emergency department registrars reported confusion on how to properly admit a hospice patient. They also had problems with patient identification.
“Arm banding is now performed by the ED triage team as a second patient identifier, so that patient access does not have to chase down and locate the patient,” says Powell.
Patient access employees at Peoria, IL-based OSF Healthcare System are regularly surveyed about their opinions regarding their direct manager. Each area receives a score of Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. Regardless of the score, an action plan is developed.
“Even with a very high-scoring department, there is always something that can be done to make the department better,” says Jessica Atkinson, patient access services manager.
Atkinson’s department managers received a Tier 2 score. “Overall, staff are pretty satisfied. But we still identified an area of improvement,” she says. The survey shows that staff members wanted to feel more involved with decisions that affect their work.
“During monthly staff meetings, I now include a slide on concerns that employees had and how they were resolved,” says Atkinson.