Point-of-service push promotes collaboration

Central office, site employees on same page

When the central business office staff at San Diego-based ScrippsHealth began to collaborate with their access colleagues at the system’s individual hospitals to improve customer service, an extra benefit resulted: better rapport between the two groups.

"What has historically existed in all hospital systems is a separation between the centralized business office and the facilities," says Dan Kehl, director of collections and customer service. "Any time there was a problem with an account, there was lots of finger pointing. The front end pointed at the back end, and vice versa."

Knowledge levels must be equal

When the two groups sat down together to address issues raised in Scripps’ patient focus groups, they came to realize that all access representatives need to have the same level of knowledge no matter where they work in the system, Kehl says.

The emphasis on point-of-service collections and customer service, he notes, led to the establishment of systemwide protocols and performance standards for all access personnel, whether they work in the hospital, in the business office, or in an ancillary department.

All access personnel, for example, will present information to the patient on advance directives and Medicare in the same way. Staff will be taught by a professional educator, not a peer, to ask questions the same manner when getting the various consent forms signed.

"Now [access staff in] the business office and the facility work more closely together to resolve problems," Kehl says. "Now if there’s a problem, it’s a ScrippsHealth problem, not a problem of one group or the other."