Some patient access departments pair new hires with experienced colleagues to reduce turnover and improve morale. Baptist Health saw these results after implementing a “coaching network” program:
Patient access staff members take more pride in their jobs.
About 70% of training now occurs on the job.
Turnover decreased from 21% to 7% at one hospital.
About 70% of patient access training at Jacksonville, FL-based Baptist Health now takes place on the job, instead of in a classroom.
“We have started a coaching network,” says revenue cycle educator Chad Voiselle, CHAM. “This places some of our best and brightest team members with new employees, to teach them job skills.”
This coaching network gives patient access employees a resource for any questions that come up as they do their jobs. “It gives them a work relationship that will most likely develop into a business friendship,” says Voiselle.
By pairing new hires with coaches, says Voiselle, “We are better equipped to keep our employees and our organization current with best practices.”
Coaches receive a small pay increase for taking on the role. “This small investment has already begun to pay off in the pride that team members take in their jobs,” reports Voiselle. “It has led to higher collections and more ‘clean’ bills, generating fewer denials.”
Better morale is another benefit. “The return on investment exceeds dollars alone. We have seen lower turnover in the team,” Voiselle says. Using this system at Baptist Medical Center Nassau, in Fernandina Beach, FL, the patient access department reduced its turnover from 21% to 7%.
Voiselle says having an “associate friend” at work is very important to employees. “Employees who have this kind of connection tend to stay, since they feel work is a friendly environment,” he explains.
MORE COMFORT WITH PEERS
At Children’s of Alabama, two patient access educators are responsible for the initial and ongoing training needs of staff, but other employees also assist. (See related story later in this issue on how the department trains patient access employees.)
Tara Tinsley Smith, CHAM, MBA, director of patient access systems, says, “New hires tend to be more comfortable with peers, and peers can provide ‘real-life’ training scenarios.”
After all the required training is complete, new employees are paired with preceptors. All team leaders and supervisors serve as preceptors, but some experienced employees also have this role. “Just being an experienced employee does not qualify you as a good fit as a preceptor,” notes Smith. “Managers were asked to identify staff members in their areas who demonstrate a desire and patience to train.”
Once employees are approved by the patient access director, preceptor training is provided. “Preceptors assist in completing the Competency-Based Orientation Checklist and give input into the progress of the new hire,” says Smith. [The checklist used by the department is included with the online issue. For assistance with your online subscription, contact customer service at [email protected] or (800) 688-2421.]
The department’s 25 preceptors, who cover about 200 employees, don’t receive additional compensation for this role. “Informally, we provide ‘kudos’ to the preceptors and give recognition during evaluations,” says Smith.
“PARTNER” IS RESOURCE
After new patient access hires at Albany (NY) Medical Center complete system training, they’re paired with a “learning partner” for their operational training.
“The learning partner uses a training manual to guide the new hire through all of the day-to-day functions of their position,” says Brenda Pascarella, CHAM, associate director of patient access.
Learning partners usually are senior staff members, staff leads, or supervisors who are very familiar with day-to-day operations and department policies and procedures. “In addition, the learning partner is available as a resource for any questions the new hire may have once they’ve completed their training,” says Pascarella.
New hires often need assistance remembering where to find policies, procedures, and training updates on the hospital’s Intranet. “The learning partner is very instrumental in helping them locate resources when they have questions,” says Pascarella.
The employee’s role as a learning partner is acknowledged at their annual performance review.
“Those with applicable skill sets are often considered for department promotional opportunities,” says Pascarella.
Brenda Pascarella, CHAM, Associate Director, Patient Access, Albany (NY) Medical Center. Phone: (518) 262-4559. Email: [email protected].
Tara Tinsley Smith, CHAM, MBA, Director, Patient Access Systems, Children’s of Alabama, Birmingham. Phone: (205) 638-7045. Email: [email protected].