The most recent employee satisfaction survey at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN, revealed that patient access staff wanted more communication from management.
“Our management team is all new in the last two years,” says Karoline Pierson, director of patient access. The new management team made communication a top priority in these ways:
• The managers buy coffee for patient access supervisors and sit down for a brief conversation.
“I ask them what’s going well and what’s driving them crazy,” Pierson says. “It gives me a chance to recognize the work they’re doing, and take down barriers if there are any.”
• Hospital higher-ups come to speak with staff personally.
Recently, a supervisor told Pierson about an urgent situation causing a department to be short-staffed. “It was a perfect storm with staffing. Anything that could happen, did,” says Pierson. In the six-person department, one registrar was retiring, another had medical issues, and another was off work under the Family Medical Leave Act.
“The supervisor and manager reached out to all of the other teams, my VP treated everyone to lunch, and we said, ‘We can train your staff in one hour. We are willing to offer overtime,’” she says.
It made a big impression on staff that the vice president came in and spoke with them directly. “Tremendous mileage came out of that,” says Pierson. “We got takers from every single area.” Staff members were given the opportunity to cover the department for a period of time ranging from two to eight hours. “We were able to get back on track, just in time for when a new person started,” Pierson says.
• All requests made by employees in daily huddles are addressed in some way.
Daily “tiered” huddles are used, with managers and supervisors meeting first thing in the morning to discuss metrics and any issues on that specific day, such as a big spike in a work queue or an issue with a specific insurance plan. Then supervisors have huddles with their individual teams.
Debbie Dehnhoff Krofa, MAL, CHAM, manager of admissions and registration, says, “Having the managers and supervisors huddle first has really helped us to set priorities, and then cascade that work appropriately to the team.”
Huddles keep team members informed of changes on a daily basis. Tony Yanni, manager of financial counseling at Hennepin County Medical Center, says, “This creates a quick and easy feedback loop between leaders and our front-line team members. We can be proactive and resolve issues that could impact the day.”
Pierson says, “If staff make a request, we either do it, or give them the rationale for why it’s not a good business decision.”
Staff members protested when managers announced they’d be expected to achieve 98% registration quality. Managers listened to their concerns, but kept to the original target.
“We had a lot of naysayers saying ‘We can’t do that. It’s too high!’ But guess what? We are achieving it,” says Pierson.
Departments outside patient access, such as human resources (HR), occasionally are included in the huddles. “Our business partnership with HR is very strong,” says Pierson. “We have pretty high turnover in admitting, so our recruiter has been coming to our huddles.”
Huddles are morale-boosters because managers use them to congratulate staff on successes. Krofa adds, “It helps us get to know each other better as colleagues and teammates.”
• The department is using staff feedback as part of an initiative to improve the registration process.
Pierson says, “We want to make it better for patients and families. But the underlying goal is to make it easier for the front-end staff.” Managers are eliminating key strokes and providing registrars with shortcuts. Registrars recently were told they no longer need to obtain the guarantor’s work address, including the street address and zip code. “We figured out that no one is using this, so let’s stop collecting it,” Pierson says.
Each time managers make a change, however minor, employees are notified by email. All the email messages contain one important piece of information: what’s in it for them. “We always tell them what the benefit is for the registration staff,” says Pierson.
- Debbie Dehnhoff Krofa, MAL, CHAM, Manager, Admissions/ Registration, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN. Phone: (612) 873-3107. Fax: (612) 904-4216. Email: email@example.com.
- Tony Yanni, Manager, Financial Counseling, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN. Phone: (612) 873-9293. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.