Patient access managers are increasingly using texts and instant messaging to communicate with each other and their employees.
- Texts can alert employees of a shift that needs to be filled.
- Managers can obtain instant answers to questions.
- Staff Members Are More Likely To Respond To A Text Than A Phone Call.
Is an irate patient demanding to speak with a supervisor? Does a registrar need to leave immediately because of a family emergency?
When you need a quick response from employees, or they need one from you, playing phone tag or waiting for a response to an email isn’t the best option.
“We have made several changes, with the age of cell phones and texting and staff being of younger age,” says Linda Boehm, supervisor of patient access at Genesis Medical Center, Silvis (IL) and Genesis Medical Center Aledo (IL). Here are some ways patient access managers are speeding communication with employees:
- Instant messaging.
Boehm and her colleagues use this communication method whenever they want quick responses, such as:
— checking to see if others are having problems with a certain system, indicating that the system is down;
— asking others about an insurance they haven’t seen before;
— finding out if anyone called in sick over the weekend, so unscheduled paid time off can be added to payroll.
“We can be in a meeting or on a conference call, and it pops right up on the screen,” says Boehm. “Staff can tell if we are logged in or away from the computer.”
- Texts, sent by managers to alert staff if a registrar calls in sick.
Texts are sent out to employees and per diem staff stating the hours available and who to contact if they can pick up all or part of the shift. “This is especially good when someone calls in late at night for an early shift,” says Boehm. “We have an email group set up and shared with those who work the night shift, so they can send it out.”
Not all employees signed up to receive the texts, but most have. “It saves us supervisors hours of time by not having to get on the phone and start calling everyone individually,” says Boehm. “Most staff will answer a text before they will answer a phone call.”
Sometimes staff respond that they’re willing to come in if the manager can’t find anyone else. “I have had staff call in within five minutes of the text going out to say they can help cover,” says Boehm.
Updated texts alert registrars once someone has picked up any of the available hours. “This lets them know the department may be short only for a couple of hours, not the entire shift,” says Boehm. “Staff is pretty good at picking up part of shifts. They will stay over or come in early.”
- Texts, sent by employees to supervisors.
Savannah Green, patient access manager at Newberry (SC) County Memorial Hospital, says, “More staff members are communicating with me via text. They can easily reach me with questions on new procedures.”
One downside is that patient access managers end up responding to texts after work. Green suggests designating a shift leader to answer staff questions during off hours. “Unfortunately, when you are accessible almost 24/7, it is sometimes hard to disconnect from work while you’re at home,” says Green.
- Linda Boehm, Supervisor, Patient Access, Genesis Medical Center, Silvis (IL) and Genesis Medical Center Aledo (IL). Phone: (309) 281-4678. Fax: (309) 281-4679. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Savannah Green, Patient Access, Newberry (SC) County Memorial Hospital. Phone: (803) 405-7289. Email: email@example.com.