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Whether you’re creating an access department from the ground up, starting an access job at a larger health care system, or simply moving from supervisor to manager at the same hospital, settling into a new position can be daunting.
Anthony M. Bruno, MPA, MEd, recently became director of patient access and business operations at Presbyterian Medical Center of the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, where he is charged with establishing a new department that will participate in a systemwide revenue management initiative. (See "New job has a tall order: Create access department," in this issue.) During his years in access management, Bruno says, he has developed a checklist of actions to take when assuming a new position.
• Develop a "names-to-know" list.
"As I meet people, I put them on a list of names to know’ or people to get back to,’ he says. "This may be someone in maintenance or security, not necessarily someone I would have to talk to on a regular basis." If the power goes out on his computer, Bruno adds, it’s nice to be able to call and say, "Hey, Bob, remember me? I’m that new guy you just met."
• Always start a personal phone book with the name, title, and telephone number of people you’ll be working with.
Writing the names in your own book, as opposed to simply using the directory supplied by the new institution, helps you to recall who the individuals are, Bruno says. "It’s more personal, and helps jog the memory."
• Volunteer to be on committees.
"This is a great way to meet people and to start networking in the hospital," he points out. For example, Bruno volunteered to represent Presbyterian Medical Center on the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) steering committee.
• Put together a plan with short-term and long-term goals.
"This plan gives me a guide, a working tool," Bruno says, "which, of course, I adjust as I go along." In his current situation, he explains, he was preceded by a consultant who identified a number of areas that needed to be addressed. "I’m using that as a guide, but I’m also developing my own plan."
His three-year plan, Bruno notes, includes the goal of promoting and implementing a comprehensive, impressive customer service program. A short-term goal, one he hopes to accomplish in the next couple of months, is to promote organization management, team building, and communication and service skills by instituting a mentoring program. Another short-term goal is to meet one-on-one with each staff member.
• Think and work outside your comfort zone.
If you’re more comfortable with, say, admissions, than with other areas you oversee, Bruno says, it’s easy to get caught up in focusing your attention there. Try to get out of that comfort zone, he suggests, by making a conscious effort to spend more time in outpatient services or the emergency department.