Five Ways to “Empower” Your Revenue Cycle Staff

Today, more and more directors of patient financial service departments face increasing challenges while trying to prevent employee morale from bottoming out during the myriad changes occurring in the health care landscape. Patient accounting personnel are witnessing constant changes in how they are required to do their jobs. These changes are being fueled by many factors, including emerging technology, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, conversions to new billing systems, stringent claims filing deadlines, modifications to billing forms, and complex contracts for nearly all payers.

Get Your Staff Involved. One proven method of keeping workers full of zest and energy is to “empower” them. Empowerment is the process of giving your staff the power, authority, control and opportunity to excel.

As this related to patient accounting, empowered staff members would have autonomy over their own accounts. They would be given a wide range of flexibility in performing their job tasks, including the power to make the necessary decisions to solve problems, establish receivable target goals and develop qualitative process improvements.

Empowerment can bring a sense of excitement and pride to the workplace. Here are five suggestions that you may want to consider when determining ways to empower your staff.

1. Develop team spirit. Divide the patient accounts personnel into self-directed teams. Let them decide how accounts will be divided between them. Assignments could be made by payer-split, alphabetical-spit, financial class, age, balance or team-split. Tell your staff what the end result should be, and request their help in achieving that goal.

Allow your staff to meet weekly for about 30 minutes per session to brainstorm on strategies to solve group problems. Give them the information they need to develop solutions by allowing them to monitor receivable indicators through system-generated reports, such as:

Weekly aged-trial balance reports Billing reports by billers Outstanding balance reports by collectors Electronic exception reports Recovery analysis reports Billed and unbilled reports

View yourself as a coach and team leader. Guide your staff toward active involvement in the ongoing effort to become top-notch. Ask the teams to submit weekly status reports detailing reasons for negative trends or other areas of potential concern, along with weekly action plans.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s the manager who is accountable for the effective teamwork of subordinate team members. The teams should not be able to change your targeted specifications. They shouldn’t change the nature of the work that has to be done, but they should be able to create the best way to accomplish the work.

2. Have the business office staff assist you in developing receivables goals for all areas of accounts receivable management. Instill your staff with a sense of initiative by involving them in establishing their own receivables targets. A few goals and objectives could be:

Appropriate dollars outstanding for each section of receivables. Acceptable number of weekly rejection notices resolved. Acceptable collection totals by collector. Appropriate number of monthly patient complaints. Acceptable number of required rebills. Acceptable percentage of receivables aged over 90 days. Acceptable backlog of mail returns. Acceptable backlog of patient correspondence. Number of weekly bills produced which are complete, accurate and clean. Acceptable weekly cash collections. Acceptable validity rate of electronic billings. Appropriate time frames for answering correspondence. Acceptable days revenue outstanding. Appropriate methods of resolving patient complaints. Broadcast the goals, and write a few of them on posters to be placed in high-visibility areas around the business office. The more staff thinks about their goals, the more enthusiastic they will become.

3. Train, train, train. Make training a top priority since it can provide your staff with the skill and confidence they need to be successful when changes occur in the workplace. Keep in mind that power comes from knowing what to do, knowing when to do it, and doing it in the correct sequence. Training motivates employees and increases their productivity. Try the following training tips:

Arrange for provider representatives of the large carriers to provide workshops and seminars regarding the do’s and don’ts of billing. Ask your collection vendors to stop by and bat around difference collection techniques that can be used at all points of service. Have your software vendors show your staff how to fully utilize all menus and screens, thus ensuring that you make the most of your patient accounting system. Train patient access personnel on best ways to improve collection of co-payments at time of registration.

4. Listen carefully. Actively seek comments, observations and suggestions from front-end employees all the way through to back-end collectors. This will help to keep them involved and motivated. It’s crucial that patient accounts personnel be confident that their thoughts and ideas are respected and valued by the supervisor and patient accounts manager.

Listen attentively to all feedback. For example, if a team is having difficulty locating patient folders or the needed remittance advices for secondary billing, encourage them to develop ways of improving their access to this information.

5. Provide feedback on results. Providing feedback is a vital ingredient in effective receivable management since patient accounting personnel, like most other employees, crave as much attention as they can get. Try the following:

Do daily spot-check of insurance verification, primary and secondary billings, cash postings, collection comments and incoming correspondence. Talk to staff daily for the purpose of reinforcing positive performance and providing direct nonjudgmental feedback. Devise monthly accounts receivables performance graphs, and post team results on a large blackboards in visible areas in the business office. Hold all individuals and teams accountable for quality output in improving receivables. When goals are reached, be sure to give plenty of high fives. Boost morale whenever possible.

Employee-Driven Work Environments. We are seeing more and more signs of employee anxiety and frustration as our industry continues to experience rapid changes and turbulent times. Negative emotions are being fueled by the overriding fears of staff that they to may be downsized as automation increases while mergers and acquisitions remain prevalent.

Employees are a hospital’s most valued assets. It’s important to remember that you can’t ask patient accounts personnel to continually change the way they perform their work unless they retain some control of the factors that influence the performance of their jobs.

Employee-driven work environments help staff to respond to change much more effectively. The entire business office will benefit by recognizing that the combined knowledge and creativity of patient accounting personnel is at the heart of good receivable management.

Big Changes Ahead For Humanity

Panic, fear, doubt, and more change. These emotions seem to be the way of things in this moment of our lives…with intensity. The intensity has been felt in the body by its deeper emotional responses to situations that would normally not trigger such reactions, or by that same token, no emotional response at all where there would normally perhaps be a dramatic one.

The body has been pulling up and releasing held energies associated with our past beliefs, causing muscles, bones, and joints (our structure) to feel painful or irritated. (I swear that I had arthritis in my hand for about a week).

Thoughts associated with fear and survival have certainly been running rampant through the consciousness, causing many others to feel these fears and mistakening agree to own them, and then simultaneously begin reacting from those fears to make them real.

The economy and our finanicals structures have also been pretty intense lately, huh? Many, many people are finding themselves without a job due to companies restructuring or going out of business. But just as many are quietly walking away from their jobs because of a deeper inner desire that can become much louder than the old voice of reasoning.

The more intense than usual clusters of weather anomilies, the random and fierce erruptions of the earth…The list can go on and on as there really isn’t an area of life that is without rapid change.

But take a look at some of these things from a different perspective. Look at this planet and its inhabitants as the Observer, and what might you see?

You might see that as our bodies are cleansing, changing, and evolving, so is the practice of medicine as we’ve known it. Case in point, pharmicudical companies selling drugs to people who are considered “victims” are now the subject of commericals involving many law suits. Consciousness understands that these drugs only hinder human evolution. Forty-one million people in the United States are without medical insurance, yet meditation and yoga are now commonplace to assist in the healing of the body from the inside out.

The challenges we’re seeing in and with our Earth caused by what has been deemed “Global Warming” are frightening to humanity as a whole. The fast paced cleansing, however, which has been experienced lately and caused whole towns, cities, and regions to literally come undone, immediately allows the vibration of the effected area to rise drastically so that attention (of the loving kind) can be absorbed. Then and suddenly, a whole country or even world, has eyes of compassion and assistance placed upon it.

Fuel prices are, as usual, only going up, and many groups are fighting to keep control. Tempers flair, wars engage, and many grab at what they can to hold on for just a little longer. But then again, renewable technology is somewhat quietly laying foundation throughout the entire planet, creating new energy and new economies at this very moment.

To sustain ourselves, what we usually would do is see the lows, feel uncomfortable, and then look away (even though they feed our dramatic appetites), and try to focus only on the “good” to give ourselves a false sense of security. But that just doesn’t work anymore, does it?

Not liking the sore joints, the awful emotions, the lack of money, the hurricane, the earthquake, the gas prices, or our climate changes isn’t going to stop them or fix them. Putting a ton of mental attention on healing them isn’t going to stop them or fix them. They are here and they are all at the perfect time in just the perfect place and sequence for a much bigger picture to unfold.

The New Perspective

The PERSPECTIVE that you carry within you, right now, at this very moment, beyond what will happen in the future and what has happened in the past, will cause your life to be gently balanced and flowing with ease and grace – or dramatically involved in disturbances that arise seemingly out of nowhere.

If your perspective is that you are separate from any of these issues and that it’s only happening to “them”, you will see the “good” and the “bad” (mostly the bad however) and therefore you will live the “good and bad”. Separation breeds duality. You will feel like you’re on a see-saw, moving up and down, over and over. This gets tiring. If your perspective is that you’re afraid of the future, or don’t want to repeat the past, well then, that’s exactly where you’re living and that’s exactly what will happen.

If you take the perspective that “all is well” and then think that you need to hold this perspective inside your mind to make it real, then guess what? That’s exactly where it will be held…in the mind. You are not your mind. You are much more than the human mind, the human body, or even the human story that you’ve accumulated.

But if you just stop, for only a moment, take a deep and conscious breath into your being and allow yourself to actually feel (not think), you understand that THAT is your moment – when you’re perfectly present with yourself and your surroundings. And in that moment your perspective changes, but the mind simply feels and acknowledges it.

In that deep breath into self, you relax and there you are. Every part of you is right there. There are no parts of you wondering off into the past or the future, continually creating from illusional time-lines. You’re there and you’re an observer to all that you are, including your body and your environment.

You breathe right now, the deep breath that connects your emerging Essence to your physical reality and know that all is well because it isn’t just a thought…it’s inner knowledge that feels different than simply the thought of it. It is where you truly create from. It’s where you are and it’s your choice.

The old mechanics of the mind WILL tell you that you need to worry. They will tell you that you need to survive, and you better get busy right now! This is your mind’s idea of your ego, holding on for that last bit of control, not wanting to let go because it’s real scary. Take a breath right straight through the thoughts. They no longer need to be or even want to be yours.

Everything in you wants to create from the Essence of self, but some parts of you are afraid to let go, even though letting go only brings in more clarity.

Being present with the living breath will eventually work itself into your daily life. Imagine not being effected by the turbulant happenings of not only your body, but the planet! Imagine allowing your Essence to blossom and thrive during these times. Then imagine what it would be like if millions of others were doing the same thing (already beginning to happen…), trusting something inside of self that is beyond anything any human has ever experienced. Yes, it’s a big order! But it’s also one that each of us are here to do, right now.

In this moment that is beyond time and circumstances held in the illusionary world of time/space allow yourself to expand your perspective once again to understand Who You Are. Feel beyond your story. See that YOU already ARE everything that you need. It’s all right here inside and always has been.

Even though the memories, genetics, and thoughts have kept you a breath away all this time, those memories, genetics, and thoughts don’t hold the power any longer and are actually ready to be loved and let go of so that You, the real You can step up and take the torch. And as we can all see by the events surrounding us, the torch is ready to be taken.

Plan B – Steps For Navigating Tough Financial Times

As the economic crisis continues to unravel layer-by-layer and financial institutions continue to maintain an ever-tightening stronghold on the masses, it is important for consumers to do two things right away:

Get a grip and do not fear. The good news is that too many people are in the same predicament so, no room for any one person to feel alone amidst lack or even being treated unfairly.
Create a Plan B and walk it out. Nothing worse than being told what to do or knowing what to do, yet, failing to act.

Yes, times are tough. Be it job loss, credit woes or foreclosure, everyone (and I do mean everyone) must make tough decisions about how they live, work, play and do business. Some are in dire straits more than others but in the same straits nevertheless.

More important than working to salvage financial portfolios or creating a resume that may or may not be seen let alone yield a job offer, is learning how to navigate tough financial times.

What can you do to ensure success?

Avoid procrastination. Better to be a work-in-progress than a stagnating pond. When you stand still or do nothing, there’s a tendency for fear to increase. Action coupled with valuable practical insight gives faith wings.

Be proactive. Do not wait until you receive a pink slip, you are on your last dime or your credit privileges change before you make changes. Look for alternatives; ask for help, work to get out of debt, do your research-now!

Build confidence. Learn a new skill and/or sharpen your strengths. Seek professional help to get clarity on all things business and all things financial. Inexpensive, seminars, workshops and continuing education options abound via local and virtual colleges and universities. At the very least, there is information to be garnered via the Web and government agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. Also, most professionals do offer free consultations.

Negotiate alternatives. Where there is no job, create one. Assess a company or individual’s needs and propose how you can help at a low cost to them, but maximum profit to you.

Complete the cycle. Follow-up yes, but also follow-through. (See, the two things to do right away).

Expand your circle. You can only grow as far as your circle is wide. The broader your scope, the greater your level of insight and therefore, influence. Make it a point to network with people in at least three related and unrelated industries. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter-need I say more?

Practice your performance. Take time to practice conducting interviews, delivering an elevator pitch or making an introduction. The more you do it, the more your confidence will increase.

Prioritize. Economic conditions do not determine the difference between want and need-you do. So, make a list of things you need to maintain your livelihood and research resources that ensure those needs are met. Meanwhile, employ discipline and patience to obtain the things you want.

Tag Team. Team up with people who will motivate you as well as assist. No man is an island. Two is better than one. A three-fold cord cannot be [easily] broken. There is strength in numbers. Pinpoint a faith-based, community, social, professional or other organization where you can give and receive help.

Stick it out. Come what may, do not give up, cave in or quit.

Today, it is painfully obvious that to be in “bad” debt is to be in bondage. It is also clear that we should all strive to live within our means. Regardless of where this financial crisis finds you, do not let not having enough or being backed into the credit crunch corner lead you to drastic measures. As with any trial, things have a way of working themselves out especially if you allow wisdom, time, faith and patience to be your guide.

To the millions of people around the world affected by the financial crisis, let it be said that quitting is not an option. Be motivated by the hope that there are brighter days head.