Some staff perks cost you next to nothing

Giving huge raises and promotions to every access staff member is one way to boost morale but isn't financially feasible. However, some attention-getting "perks" cost little, if anything. "It is amazing what a pat on the back does for folks," says Jackie Mitchler, revenue cycle analyst in the patient business services department at Affinity Health System in Menasha, WI. Here are four proven strategies:

• Give out gift cards in small amounts.

If an access staff person goes "above and beyond," Mitchler does these things:

• Staff get to choose a $5 gift card.

• A "Star" balloon is placed in the employee's cubby.

• The employee is praised at the next department meeting.

• Get a contest going.

"If you get a little competitive game going among the staff, you would be surprised at what they can do," says Mitchler. Affinity's department spotlights a top copay collector for three consecutive months. Currently, the top copay collector is a registrar in the emergency department who typically collects close to $2,000 per month just in copays. This employee received a pair of movie tickets and a popcorn gift card.

• Put employees' names in print.

Affinity's patient access managers send in "kudos" congratulating staff members who went above and beyond. These kudos are featured in the organization's weekly newsletter. "This weekly newsletter goes out to the entire senior staff, so this praises your staff's glory throughout the entire organization," says Mitchler.

• Talk about impressive employees in meetings.

Helen Contreraz, manager of patient access services at University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center, says that in addition to publishing the successes of access staff members in the hospital's newsletter, "at the senior leadership level, we quantify the success in our in-house review meetings."

• Send a thank you.

At Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, NC, when patient access staff collect on high-dollar accounts, in addition to receiving a pay-for-performance monthly bonus, the CFO personally sends them a "thank you" in recognition of their contribution. "Our management team simply sends an e-mail to the CFO to alert her of our top collectors for the prior month," says Joe Palumbo, CAM, CHAA, manager of patient access site administration. "Our CFO takes the time to write a personal note, which is then delivered to the staff from their manager."

These employees also receive praise from the CEO during quarterly co-worker forums. Recently, intake specialists in central registration were given recognition for their year-to-date collections. "They receive this praise in front of 20 to 50 hospital co-workers who are gathered for each forum, which are scheduled daily for a two-week period," says Palumbo. "Some of our staff have also been featured in the organization's monthly newsletter. This is available for all to see through our hospital's internal web site."

[For more information, contact:

  • Helen Contreraz, Patient Access Services, UCLA Medical Center. Phone: (310) 267-8005. E-mail:
  • Jackie Mitchler, Revenue Cycle Analyst, Patient Business Services Department, Affinity Health System, Appleton, WI. Phone:(920) 628-9221. Fax: (920) 628-9108. E-mail:
  • Joe Palumbo, CAM, CHAA, Manager, Patient Access Site Administration, Rex Healthcare, Raleigh, NC. Phone: (919) 784-3096. Fax: (919) 784-4536. E-mail:]