Knowledge Expansion

Insights: Staff empowerment essential to revenue cycle management process

Insight Article

Revenue Cycle

Practice Efficiency

Culture & Engagement

Andy Stonehouse MA
A 2018 MGMA Stat poll found that nearly 70% of responding practices reported an increase in their overhead expenses. Given that striking figure, what can healthcare providers do to minimize those costs and still provide both expert care and a positive working environment for their employees?

Patti Peets, Senior Director of Revenue Cycle Management at CareCloud, recently spoke to MGMA Sr. Editor Daniel Williams on the MGMA Insights podcast about how to achieve efficiencies through a combination of training, incentives and collaboration. 

'Mission critical'

According to Peets, it comes down to making sure that every member of a practice’s team is mindful of the negative effects of out-of-control overhead costs, as well as ensuring that your business is properly staffed in order to avoid burnout and being certain that patient accounts are up to date. 

“There’s a major shift in patient responsibility over the last two to three years that’s having an impact on staffing requirements,” she said. “If you look at the high-deductible plans and the out-of-pocket expenses, the requirements to have processes in place to collect that patient money is mission critical. But there are many practices I have worked with that are understaffed when it comes to front-end operations to begin with, and when you add the burden of patient responsibility collections, I can almost guarantee your collection percentages have suffered, which means you’re leaving money on the table.”

Salaries and benefits must also be balanced in a thoughtful manner, Peets cautioned, for the sake of both staff retention and team efficiency.

“Staying power is important, and turnover can be very expensive for any business. But you need to make sure you have the right people in the right role, doing the right things for the right price,” she said. “So if you’ve had to raise your salaries, you should also be assessing the personnel roles and shifting some things around to make sure that you align the staffing cost with the roles and the value of the roles that they bring to the practice. More than likely, your benefits to employees has also increased, so you need to assess that as well.”

Empowering employees

Central to a successful and cost-efficient office environment is the notion of empowering employees to work efficiently and take ownership in their jobs, Peets added.

“Empowering your staff will improve performance care and services that your practices are providing, no doubt,” she said. “That’s because employee engagement really drives the company performance in growth. Employee experience will impact patient experience, and patient consumerism is now playing a role in this – the reality that patients are now seeing themselves as consumers for the first time in a healthcare setting.”

Meeting patient needs

Just as patients are now accustomed to the immediacy of other consumer transactions, practitioners must ensure that their staffs are able to efficiently meet patient needs, or they may not be patients for very long. Here, technology can also be a cost-saving key.

“Patients now have demands that need to be met, or they’ll leave and seek healthcare elsewhere,” Peets said. “So, it’s critical that the processes are in place to collect money up front and have your staff as the gatekeeper to that whole experience. If you’re addressing this need, you may have already felt the impact on operation cost, which may have increased your overhead. You also need to look at the technology that’s out there that can help lower some of those costs. You can give your patients the ability to download an app on their phone so that they can check themselves in when they walk into your office. They can electronically fill in intake forms, or they can pay their bills on their smartphone while they’re sitting in your waiting room.”

Ambassadors for growth

Those efforts, Peets said, are part of your front-end staff working as ambassadors for growth, a culture that needs to be adapted throughout your entire business.

“All through your organization, you need to provide staff access to support, resources, information and opportunities to learn and grow, because they are all ambassadors of your practice,” she said. “And that will have a positive effect on employee job satisfaction and the quality of care they provide throughout your entire practice.” 

Peets said the payoff can be immediate when employees feel like they have more stake in a healthcare business’s success, and she also suggested owners and managers work to include their staffs in the strategic planning process whenever possible.

“The way you empower people is to share the plan with them,” she said. “You want them to be part of the plan, and you want to share the results. Don’t forget that piece – sharing the results is a reward, so they get the fulfillment of what they did. It’s all about fulfilling people’s lives.”   

Listen now: MGMA Insights podcast

Ignite excellence

Join us at MGMA19 | The Annual Conference, Oct. 13-16 in New Orleans, where Patti Peets will be a featured speaker. For more information about MGMA19, check out our Annual Conference blog at mgma.com/fuse. To register, visit mgma.com/bigeasy19.

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About the Author

Andy Stonehouse MA
Freelance Writer and Educator Colorado

Andy Stonehouse, MA, is a Colorado-based freelance writer and educator. His professional credits include serving as editor of Employee Benefit News and a variety of financial and insurance publications, in addition to work in the recreation and transportation fields.
 

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