One of the toughest challenges for patient access at Springfield, MO-based CoxHealth is “keeping everyone updated and on the same page with the fast-paced changes we see in healthcare,” says revenue cycle educator Jill Pfeifer. “E-learning is a key player in that solution.”
In 2016, the revenue cycle department started providing online training to patient access, health information management, revenue integrity, and patient financial services.
“This supplements the education we create internally,” Pfeifer says.
Once a pattern of mistakes involving a certain topic is identified, managers create an online module.The department uses PowerPoint to create the modules internally, then publishes them through the hospital’s learning management system (Nashville, TN-based HealthStream).
“To identify trends, we look at auditing and denial reporting,” Pfeifer adds. “We also listen to those diligent employees who notice trends through daily workflow.” Patient access staff then take a follow-up quiz with a mandatory passing score. Here are two recent examples:
- Registrars were incorrectly completing the Medicare Secondary Payer Questionnaire.
- Registrars were failing to verify the patient’s identity prior to the start of the registration process.
“The content of the module and quiz reinforces the correct process steps that need to be followed,” Pfeifer says. “This allows reeducation for the masses without requiring a live classroom setting.”
Record High Collections
Online training gave a big boost to upfront collections at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, NJ. The point-of-service collection training module consists of eight 20-minute courses, costing $30 for each registrar, provided by Litmos, a provider of learning technology.
The online training covers:
- copays, coinsurance, and deductibles;
- communication styles used during collections;
- understanding the stages of patient collections;
- collection strategies;
- quality assurance methods.
Randall Smailer, manager of healthcare access, says, “As a result of the online point-of-service collection training and two-day classroom training, our ED collections have reached record highs.” By the middle of 2016, the ED’s copay collections equaled total copay collections for the previous year.
“An added benefit of this online training platform is that it allows us to develop our own courses, reports, surveys, and assessments,” Smailer explains, noting the department can do this by uploading electronic graphic presentations and video files from the online training library. “This allows us to create quizzes — multiple choice, keyword, or essay questions — to assess staff retention of learning material.”
‘Jam-packed’ with Info
Pfeifer names staff engagement as the top challenge with online training. “The last thing they want to do is another module,” she says.
There always is a risk of registrars just clicking through screens to get to the end, without really retaining the information.
“We need to become experts at how to make the education entertaining, to keep the attention of the student long enough to accomplish the main goal: to educate,” Pfeifer says.
Pfeifer expects online education to be a “bigger and bigger” piece of how the department provides revenue cycle training.
“The online modules need to creative, interactive, and jam-packed with small bites of information that can be delivered and digested quickly,” she says.
These types of modules allow the department to roll out more education at quicker intervals.
“That’s how we hold the interest of our audience,” Pfeifer says. “If we can follow that formula, our online education can be successful.”
- Jill Pfeifer, Revenue Cycle Educator, Revenue Integrity, CoxHealth, Springfield, MO. Phone: (417) 269-0021. Fax: (417) 269-8109. Email: [email protected].
- Randall Smailer, Manager, Health Care Access, Cooper University Health Care, Camden, NJ. Phone: (856) 361-1642. Fax: (856) 968-8461. Email: [email protected].
In the past year, online training of patient access employees at Springfield, MO-based CoxHealth resulted in $12,500 in savings, estimates revenue cycle educator Jill Pfeifer.
“Several modules are grouped together and titled as ‘Pass to Class’ in our learning management system,” Pfeifer says. Before attending a live class, patient access employees review the online modules. Topics include system terminology, basic system, navigation, introduction to Medicare and Medicaid, and revenue cycle basics. “Each individual module is followed by a short quiz to ensure comprehension. There is also a shadowing packet included,” Pfeifer explains. The packet allows the registrar to shadow in their specific area and document the specific tasks that they will be doing. “The packet is brought to class, so the educator knows the specific workflow of each of their students,” Pfeifer adds.
About 300 hours of classroom training is no longer needed because staff members were able to cover a large amount of the material on their own by reviewing the online modules. “This has reduced the live classroom time that takes away hours of productivity,” Pfeifer says.
Online education also means the health system, which has multiple campuses spread across southwest Missouri, doesn’t have to pay for employees’ travel time and mileage. “The time for travel is given back to patient access areas, increasing productivity,” Pfeifer adds.
Productivity also is higher for the educator team. “We aren’t having to push through 200-plus employees through the same live class,” Pfeifer explains.