Stephanie Colwell, MBA, CHAA, patient access manager at South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, FL, sets out to learn what motivates individual employees. Next, Colwell helps them achieve their career goals.
“I try to never say ‘no’ to someone,” she says. “Instead, I find a way to give them what they need.”
Building relationships creates a culture in which team members feel valued in the department. “It keeps them here,” Colwell says. “It has also attracted better talent to us through word-of-mouth referrals from our team members.”
Here are some ways in which Denison Clark Penney, director of patient access at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center, improves employee engagement:
• Penney takes 20 minutes to walk around the department talking with employees.
Employees sometimes end up talking at length about a specific issue. One reported frustration because the insurance eligibility system is down on Monday mornings for a specific payer. “I always follow up, even if it’s not an answer that they want,” Penney says.
• Penney invites hospital leaders to meetings, so they can discuss their roles and how patient access relates to them.
Several registrars complained about the need to document in two systems. “Because systems aren’t integrated, the referral team has to document their notes in two different systems: those used by check-in staff and by billing staff,” Penney says.
Penney invited the director of patient financial services to a staff meeting, so she could explain why the documentation is so important. If a patient is seeing a primary care physician at Tufts Medical Center but the insurance company has the patient enrolled with a different primary care physician at another facility, Tufts may not get paid for the service if the mismatch isn’t resolved. “Staff can resolve it before the claim is sent out,” explains Penney.
The goal is for staff to realize the importance of the documentation to the overall revenue cycle.
“We want staff to realize that
although the duplicate documentation is annoying and cumbersome, what they do affects the back end,” says Penney.
• Penney asks hospital administrators to meet with the patient access team.
Recently, Penney asked the hospital’s CEO to come to a financial coordination meeting. “He answered questions and met all of them,” says Penney. In other patient access areas, the CEO came through the department and shook hands with employees. “Pretty much everyone commented, ‘We didn’t know he cared so much about us,’” says Penney.