Niceness cannot be measured in the same way as the number of calls taken per hour or the percentage of copays collected, but it still needs recognition. Oklahoma City-based INTEGRIS Health made some changes to reward their friendliest registrars:
• Employees are rated on how they come across to patients and families. “The employee is then provided real-time feedback, including tips to improve,” says Veronica Hughes, administrative director for patient access.
• Calls with patients are recorded and evaluated. This has been ongoing for years at the centralized call center, but will soon be expanded. “We will be transitioning toward a more robust phone recording evaluation system,” Hughes says. The new system will give real-time reports on the tone of voice used by registrars.
• Each day, leaders send a “kudos” email on registrars who gave exceptional customer service. “This is stored in the employee’s file, and referred to during annual performance reviews,” Hughes says.
• Anyone who consistently gives exemplary service is considered for a promotion. “All employee recognitions are shared at monthly meetings,” Hughes adds.
Most patient access leaders really do not need metrics to tell them who their most helpful registrars are. The trick is how to retain these high-value employees. “We must connect with them on an individual level,” says Susan Milligan, patient experience director at Ensemble Health Partners in Mason, OH.
There are no shortcuts. Patient access leaders put in plenty of face time. “Learning what’s important to them is critical,” Milligan stresses. “One of the best things you can do is ask questions.” Ensemble uses employee recognition questionnaires to identify:
- how the employee wants to be recognized (privately or publicly);
- whether they prefer email or verbal recognition;
- what they want, specifically.
“Maybe it’s their name in lights on digital signage in the lobby, for all to see,” Milligan says. Others really want a handwritten note, a gift card, their favorite candy bar, or the opportunity to coach their peers.
“We empower our associates to think outside the box. When it pays off, we encourage them to share what’s worked,” Milligan shares.
Managers spend lots of time in the department talking with employees. They pick up on who really wants to advance in the field. “If they aspire to lead teams or improve processes, we explain that coaching is a core function,” Milligan says.
New hires work alongside the customer service stars. “We use top performers for side-by-sides so they can learn from the best,” Milligan says.
A simple thank you goes a long way for almost all registrars, and the details count. “We want the associate to know exactly what created the positive experience so the behavior continues,” Milligan explains.