When managers at OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, IL, were wondering whether staff members would like a calendar of birthdays set up on the department’s internal portal, they asked them via an email survey.
“The majority of employees wanted the option of having their birthday listed there, so they could celebrate with each other,” says patient access services manager Jessica Atkinson.
At Slidell, LA-based Ochsner Healthcare, patient access leaders asked employees these questions using SurveyMonkey (https://www.surveymonkey.com):
- How satisfied are you with the communication in your department?
- How satisfied are you with the timeliness of information?
- How satisfied are you with the consistency?
- Do you feel you have enough leadership face-to-face time?
“We requested commentary for certain questions,” says Tanya Powell, CHAM, patient access director of Ochsner’s Northshore Region Facility and Clinics. Patient access leaders were surprised to learn that a significant number of staff members didn’t like having to attend monthly meetings. “They asked to be communicated to in a better fashion, such as webinars and weekly emails,” says Powell.
Staffers want results
After the email survey results were in, Ochsner’s patient access managers held a meeting to discuss best practices and opportunities for improvement.
“Many staff commented that ‘We do all these surveys, but we never hear the results. Nothing comes of it,’” says Powell. Staff asked for these things:
- more face-to-face time with managers and supervisors;
- communications through webinars for those staff who cannot attend a meeting in person;
- weekly huddles and weekly mass emails to update staff on departmental changes;
- clearer expectations, such as providing specific deadlines for requests, and specific metrics for departmental goals;
- job shadowing to understand others’ roles, such as observing patient interviews for Medicaid applications;
- coaching by leaders when critical conversations are needed, such as when supervisors observe an impolite conversation;
- an annual learning retreat for all staff members covering compliance, claims denials, and Medicare Secondary Payer Questionnaire.
The overarching message was that patient access want to feel as though they are part of the decision-making process.
“Engaging the team and taking on their ideas can be a true motivator,” says Powell.
Here are two ways patient access leaders at OSF Healthcare obtain feedback from staff:
- Managers round twice a week.
Recently, staff brought a problem with the way high-dollar tests are scheduled to Atkinson’s attention. “Because of how the tests are being scheduled, all of them weren’t falling to our high-dollar work queue,” she says.
If a lab test and MRI were scheduled at the same time, the MRI wasn’t flagged as needing an authorization, for example. This issue meant that the authorization had to be obtained at the last minute.
“If that test were to fall under the radar, the patient might have to reschedule,” she says. Atkinson asked the employee to provide specific examples of the problem for her to bring to the scheduling manager’s attention, so that the process could be changed as needed.
- Managers encourage employees to meet with them individually as needed.
“There are times where staff don’t want to discuss an issue in front of a group. Sometimes they don’t want to admit they don’t know something,” says Atkinson.
Other times, employees need to discuss personal issues. Recently, an employee with a business background reported her intention to pursue a nursing career; Atkinson was able to provide encouragement and support.
“To have someone understand the organization from the bottom up is a huge plus,” she says. “Who knows? She could be our next chief nursing officer.”