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Customer service, revenue cycle top medical practice leaders’ staff training focus areas

By Chris Harrop
August 21, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s):

The role of a medical practice administrator goes beyond identifying best practices and finding ways to implement them. Practice leaders also must identify where practice staff members can benefit from additional education and training so programs can be added and administered to help the organization run optimally.

An Aug. 18 MGMA Stat poll asked practice leaders which area they think staff members need the most education or training, and nearly half (47%) pointed to customer service as the top area that could benefit from further training. About one-fifth of respondents (20%) said revenue cycle issues would be a top focus for staff education, followed by 13% citing government regulations, 12% pointing to leadership development, and 8% responding ‘other.’

Each of these areas represents a broad swath of skills and performance objectives that practice leaders focus on in the Body of Knowledge (BOK) for Medical Practice Management. Taking a closer look at what each area encompasses provides a practice leader a roadmap for addressing specific concerns and developing process improvements.

Customer service

Any customer-facing organization must be focused on delivering a high level of customer service, and medical practices face this challenge with patient satisfaction playing an increasing role in reimbursement and physician compensation.

Customer service training for practice staff members can include how you handle incoming phone calls, methods of engaging patients online, building trust with patients through effective communication and leveraging data to improve patient access and appointment capacity to reduce time-to-appointment waits.

The MGMA 2017 Annual Conference, Oct. 8-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., will feature multiple sessions on how to approach many of these topics, including:

  • “Cultural Competency for Patient Engagement,” an interactive session led by O’Neil Pyke, MD, SHFM, chief medical officer, Medicus Healthcare Solutions, Mountain Top, Pa., focuses on assessing cultural competency and its link to improved patient outcomes and satisfaction, as well as how to guide physicians toward a more culturally competent practice and improved patient experience metrics.
  • “Seeing Past Tomorrow: Using Appointment Data to Thrive in the Future,” led by Nate Moore, CPA, MBA, FACMPE, MGMA member, president, Moore Solutions, Inc., Centerville, Utah, will explore gathering, analysis and reporting of appointment data to leverage it into improved patient access. (You can learn more about using pivot tables for appointment data in Moore’s article in the September issue of MGMA Connection magazine, available Sept. 1.)

Revenue cycle management and government regulations

Medical groups nationwide have spent much of 2017 navigating the reporting requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). MACRA and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) compliance was a top response from MGMA Stat respondents in October 2016. MGMA Government Affairs maintains an up-to-date MACRA/QPP Resource Center, with specific, member-exclusive resources for MIPS and alternative payment models (APMs).

The MGMA 2017 Annual Conference will take a more in-depth look at many revenue cycle management issues and government programs in the following sessions:

  • “Conquering the Revenue Cycle Challenges of Value-Based Contracts,” led by Ronald Sterling, CPA, MBA, EHR consultant, Sterling Solutions, Ltd., Silver Spring, Md., will help attendees assess key patient service and revenue cycle features for non-fee-for-service models and how to repurpose practice management systems and EHRs for that transition.
  • “MIPS Office Hours with CMS,” an MGMA Government Affairs forum with Kate Goodrich, MD, director and CMS chief medical officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, Baltimore, will provide attendees to ask questions about Medicare’s quality payment program and learn about pending 2018 MIPS requirements.
  • A Medicare Payment Outlook hot topic session, led by Jennifer McLaughlin, JD, senior associate director, MGMA Government Affairs, Washington, D.C., will offer timely information on legislative and regulatory initiatives that may affect day-to-day activities of medical group practices.
  • A health information technology (HIT) hot topic session, led by Robert Tennant, MA, director, health information technology policy, MGMA Government Affairs, Washington, D.C., will explore up-to-date HIT concerns for physician practices and how to navigate a rapidly changing HIT landscape. (Read more about top HIT issues facing medical practices in Tennant’s July 2017 Washington Link article in MGMA Connection magazine.)
  • “MGMA’s A View From Washington,” the Wednesday, Oct. 11, general session led by Anders Gilberg, senior vice president, MGMA Government Affairs, Washington, D.C., will provide a holistic overview of the past year of healthcare policy and the trajectory of policies affecting medical practices in the coming year.

Leadership development

Practice administrators don’t just provide leadership to an organization – they nurture it in their physicians and other staff members. It’s a balance of management and leadership styles based on the specific strengths and weaknesses of the members of the organization: Coaching styles differ greatly from more directive or authoritative approaches.

Understanding those differences can be a first step to finding new leadership styles best suited for change management in a medical practice setting.

Sharing the language of leadership with staff members is one of those ways to cascade a practice administrator’s own personal growth and leadership development down through the organization.

Multiple sessions at MGMA 2017 Annual Conference are planned to help that process of sharing leadership insights throughout the practice:

  • “How to Turn Around the Culture of Your Practice,” a Sunday, Oct. 8, preconference session led by Tracy Spears, co-founder, Exceptional Leaders Lab, Tulsa, Okla., will provide attendees with an assessment of what a high-performance culture looks like and how to implement that culture in an organization, as well as information on motivating employees and forming a more productive workplace. (Learn more about separate registration for preconference programs.)
  • Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, New York Times best-selling co-authors of The Carrot Principle and All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, will lead a Monday, Oct. 9, general session on building the culture of a productive workplace. (Hear more from Gostick and Elton on organizational culture in their recent appearance on the MGMA Small Talk podcast.)

Join us for MGMA 2017 Annual Conference

Want to receive timely industry data like this every week? MGMA Stat is a simple way to get real-time healthcare data all through text message.

Chris Harrop, senior editorial manager, Publications, MGMA

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