It’s time to revamp your career ladder!
New requirements keep pace with changes
At University of Kentucky HealthCare in Lexington, a patient access career ladder had been in place for more than a decade.
"With the organization’s changing priorities and external pressures of the marketplace, we felt the need to revamp our program," says Courtney M. Higdon, director of enterprise patient access services.
Higdon says the changes will offer a more consistent experience for patients. "We hope this prepares our staff for future roles in the organization where they may begin to have supervisory opportunities and take on broader roles," she says.
Higdon hopes to see internal transfer rates decrease. "We do have a lot of movement internally across the organization in [patient access] positions," she says. "Some of that is due to the historical variances that existed in how the program was implemented and executed throughout the organization."
A two-tiered program is now used, instead of the previous three-tiered program. One reason was that the evolution of the patient access role made it more difficult to differentiate the positions into three levels. (See related story, p. 139, on other changes that were made to the career ladder.)
The previous program used three titles: patient relations assistant I, patient relations assistant II, and patient relations assistant III, while the new program has only two: patient relations assistant and patient relations associate.
"Also, market studies showed that our entry-level position was below market in terms of compensation," says Higdon. "Eliminating that level made sense."
"People skills" made a priority
Patient access leaders at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor first created a career ladder in 2004, called The Registration Progression Model.
"We sought to equip employees with the technical tools needed to be successful in their current role and to prepare them for higher levels of skill and responsibility," says Douglas Weaver, director of patient financial counseling, registration, and patient business services.
In 2007, the career ladder was overhauled and given a new name: The Registration Career Path. "We realized that while we had succeeded in equipping registrars with better tools and understanding of their work, we hadn’t addressed some of the biggest obstacles to successful performance," Weaver says.
Eighty percent of the Registration Progression Model’s criteria was aimed at technical job competencies. "Employees who received approaching’ or not met’ on performance evaluations were deficient in personal and social competencies," Weaver says.
The new career ladder balances technical and "emotional" competencies. "The focus on emotional competencies is to avoid, as much as possible, the employee who has star ability and fails due to less-than-stellar people skills," says Weaver.
As a result of the change, employee engagement and performance evaluation scores increased, the percentage of visits registered and payers verified increased, and registration-related claims denials decreased.
In 2013, the Registration Career Path was expanded to all of patient business services. It eventually will be rolled out to all revenue cycle staff. "The goal is to move people thoughtfully and methodically through logical career steps," says Ellen Copeland-Brown, manager of revenue cycle, learning, and performance improvement. Copeland-Brown expects the expansion of the career ladder to result in improved retention, as well as a more responsive workforce that can meet the challenges of a quickly changing healthcare finance landscape.
"We have learned that unless we remain diligent and committed to this program at all levels, it will already be outdated before we print the paper it is written upon," says Copeland-Brown.
- For more information on updating patient access career ladders, contact:
- Ellen Copeland-Brown, Manager, Revenue Cycle, Learning and Performance Improvement, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor. Phone: (734) 936-0369. Fax: (734) 615-1125. Email: email@example.com.
- Courtney M. Higdon, Director, Enterprise Patient Access Services, University of Kentucky HealthCare, Lexington, KY. Phone: (859) 257-6780. Email: Courtney.Higdon@uky.edu.
- Douglas Weaver, Director, Patient Financial Counseling and Registration, Patient Business Services, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor. Phone: (734) 647-6323. Fax: (734) 936-4577. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.