Hold staff accountable for customer service
Customer service is included in the patient access job description at Baptist Health Richmond (KY), reports Jason Mouser, director of patient access.
"We have established service standards and behavior guidelines to help achieve a culture of exceptional service and quality," he says.
All staff members are held accountable to these standards: Accountability, Attitude, Communication, Compassion, Respect, and Integrity. During annual evaluations, if staff are unable to meet these standards, they are counseled by the management team.
The organization’s Press Ganey patient satisfaction surveys include specific questions to evaluate whether registration staff members are providing excellent service. The emergency department survey includes questions about the helpfulness of the first person encountered by the patient, the courtesy shown to family and friends, and the adequacy of information given to the patient, family, and friends. The same-day surgery survey asks patients about the helpfulness of the registration person and the helpfulness of any phone personnel.
"Our Press Ganey scores have been consistently above the departmental mean benchmarks of 85.0," reports Mouser.
Take action to keep access staff happy
Simple changes are significant
Having "potluck" lunches on a regular basis has had a surprisingly big impact on the morale of many patient access employees at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, NH.
"Just getting the team together has improved department morale," reports Jennifer White, director of patient access.
When an emergency department registrar at Mercy Hospital — Springfield (MO ) told Mike Spence, MBA, financial analyst for patient access, that the night shift would no longer work for his family’s needs, Spence found him a position in the outpatient department that gave him morning hours. "It allowed him to continue his career with Mercy," says Spence.
Too frequently, employees view patient access as a foot in the door to healthcare and choose to move on to clinical roles such as nursing or radiology, he says. "One reason is that as family schedules change, the needs of the employee change as well," says Spence. Caring for school-age children might make it impossible for an employee to continue working a night shift in the emergency department, for example.
"Of course, our facility is not immune to all of the typical reasons for attrition: better pay, better hours, or lower stress levels," he says. Here are ways to address each of these:
• Staff members want different hours.
In some cases, Spence has found a way to accommodate an employee’s urgent need for a different schedule even if the right shift isn’t available at the time. "We do occasionally allow a coworker to move into an open PRN position, until the right shift does become available for them," he says.
• Staff members want better pay.
"We have recently done a market rate adjustment and continue to monitor this in case further adjustments are warranted," says Spence.
The department also offers differentials for hard-to-fill shifts and registration areas such as the emergency department.
• Staff members want less stress.
Spence continually monitors workloads to be sure that any position isn’t "overloaded or underloaded."
"Both can be detrimental," says Spence. "A bored employee is just as likely to leave to find something more challenging as an overloaded employee."
- For more information on improving morale in patient access areas, contact:
- Mike Spence, MBA, Financial Analyst, Patient Access, Mercy Hospital — Springfield (MO). Phone: (417) 820-9897. Fax: (417) 820-4880. Email: Michael.Spence@Mercy.net.
- Jennifer White, Director of Patient Access, Cottage Hospital, Woodsville NH. Phone: (603) 747-9252. Fax: (603) 747-9342. Email: email@example.com.