Access should be flexible with staffing solutions
Don't let your department be shortchanged
Patient access departments can be shortchanged with staffing if they don't monitor volumes, warns Donna J. Aasheim, CHAM, director of patient access administration at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA.
"Typically, finance is not looking at the actual workloads; they are looking at the volume numbers," says Aasheim. "Due to fluctuating volumes, it's usually the non-clinical departments that have FTEs [full-time equivalents] cut."
It's difficult for patient access areas to cover shifts with reduced staffing especially with sick calls, vacations and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), says Aasheim. She made these changes:
- Aasheim established an on-call pool of staff members who work per diem.
- Aasheim asks patient access leaders to monitor volumes by hour.
"I have given my leadership instructions to move staff around and/or flex whenever possible," she says.
Eisenhower Medical Center is a large organization with numerous offsite registration locations, and it services varying seasonal volumes. "We need to make sure we can be flexible in the spring and summer months, in order to be optimal when the season starts in October and our volumes nearly triple," she says.
Aasheim cross trained outpatient registrars in all 15 registration locations.
"During our lower volume days, we move staff across different registration
locations to cross-train with existing staff," says Aasheim.
Aasheim introduced "registration standards."
"This standardizes data entry as to what information goes into what field, making it easier for registrars to work in different areas," says Aasheim.