Some organizations will use the terms essential and non-essential workers as a way to distinguish between who needs to be on site in the event of an emergency, and who does not. I do understand the purpose of this distinction, however, it’s very important that businesses not give the impression that some employees are more important or valuable than others. (more…)
When I come across a product or a service that I think is interesting, I want to write about it. When I connected recently with VibrantUSA, I found a service I never knew existed – an insurance broker specializing in Medicare plans! Here’s my interview with VibrantUSA’s CEO Rob Solberg.
Mary Pat: Your business is a family business – can you tell me your story?
The User Experience, according to ISO Standards is defined as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service.” I recently had a User Experience at a new hair salon. I left my previous hair salon because I did not have a good experience there.
My new hair salon appears to be actively competing for my business (I show up for appointments, pay my bill and tip the stylists – what’s not to like?) and seems to have designed my salon experience to keep me coming back.
My Customer Experience at the New Salon:
I have not always been excited to hear patient complaints. As a younger manager I absolutely dreaded when a patient wanted to speak to me. I felt that I had little to offer a patient who expressed anger or frustration with something that had happened and I was very impatient to get past the complaint and get back to my “job.”
Now, I can’t wait to hear patients’ complaints. Complaints are the only opportunity managers have to understand the patient’s experience and hear in their own words what went wrong for them. By listening carefully, you have the potential to accomplish several goals.
- You can heal the patient’s complaint, first by making sure the patient feels heard, and second by addressing the problem if something needs to be done.
- You can gain insight into an experience in the practice and dissect it to see why the problem occurred and what can be done to fix it.
- You can model to the staff how important patient complaints are and how seriously you take them. (more…)
During the holiday season we are reminded to give thanks and extend our best wishes to family, friends, and colleagues. It’s a time to step back and reflect upon the accomplishments achieved in collaboration with your team, and feel a sense of gratitude for what you have.
Do you take the time to acknowledge the contributions of others? Do you have a full appreciation for the importance of giving praise?
Many years ago I had an eye opening meeting with an engineering director named Pete. The purpose of the meeting was to update Pete on the progress of my work with several members of his team. I facilitated a process improvement initiative that ended up saving the company over one hundred thousand dollars. In spite of this outcome, the group had very low morale. One day I stopped one of our meetings and asked the team why they were so upset. They said “Pete doesn’t value us.” I asked “Why do you feel this way?” Their response was “He never shows appreciation for our work.” I shared this story with Pete in an attempt to provide him with a valuable insight. His response was “I don’t need to tell them how much I value them, they are engineers and should know how well they are doing.” I said “Pete, everyone wants to be appreciated. It’s not based on one’s position or degree. You need to express to your team how much you value them.”
To this day, I can still see Pete struggling to understand the importance of giving thanks.
The following are a few suggestions for leaders regarding expressing thanks:
I will never forget something a patient told me several years ago when I was covering the front desk in a practice I was managing. If you manage a practice and haven’t worked at your check-in and check-out desks recently, I highly recommend it.
An insured patient that I checked out was shocked when I said the charge for her visit was $100. She said, “But he was only in the room for ten minutes!“ I was briefly at a loss for words. I recovered, we agreed on a payment plan for her co-pay, I made a note on her encounter form for the billing office and she left.
I’ve been thinking about our conversation, and thinking about what that $100 – actually the payer would probably only pay about $35 and with her co-pay, the grand total would be $55 – and what that $55 is supposed to cover…
In Episode #10, Mary Pat discusses the importance of taking a moment and verifying who you are speaking with when you interact with patients on the phone.
MMP: Welcome to Manage My Practice, Denise! What is your background in medical practice management?
DPT: My first job in healthcare was in 1975 (I was 5 years old). I was hired to work in radiology having high hopes of developing….but that never happened. I memorized the color coded X-ray jackets and turned locating them for physicians into a challenging game. Because of my consistently positive attitude, I was promoted to receptionist. Later I was recruited to work for a general surgery practice in town where I was employed for the next 32 years. During that time, I was promoted to Administrator and became Certified in Healthcare Management through Pfeiffer College.
MMP: Tell me about the process of becoming a healthcare comedienne.
DPT: Humor has escorted me through many difficult times in my life. By finding the “funny side up” in a situation, I am able to keep an open mind, learn from it and share with others in training programs. A good example ~ when I introduce my contagious characters, i.e. “Ima Gossip” as the person that will keep the bad news stirring and “Shirley Knott” who will surely not schedule another patient for that doctor, I am able to introduce some uncomfortable issues in a way that everyone can appreciate…..”Justin Case” they work around them.
MMP: Things are very gloom and doom in healthcare today – how do you take such a tough subject and inject humor into it?
At Manage My Practice we like to keep our posts informative and actionable – and not political. I’ve tried to provide the facts about the reforms, and how they could affect your patients and staff in an unbiased and professional manner – exactly how you would present them as an administrator. I hope you find it useful. – Abe
The process of passing and implementing a law is a long and winding road, but President Obama’s Healthcare Reforms cleared a significant hurdle on Thursday when the Supreme Court upheld most of the law as constitutional against challenges from many of the states as well as business organizations. You have probably been getting a lot of questions from employees, patients, friends and relatives, and even your providers and colleagues, and they all basically boil down to this: How does the law affect me?
Any time I ask a practice about their pain points, they invariably name “the phones” as one of their toughest problems to solve. Phone calls are escalating as many patients are trying to avoid going to the doctor. That means instead of making an appointment, patients are calling hoping to be given advice or a prescription over the phone.
Staffing up to answer the phones is rarely an option for most practices. In many cases, there is no compensation for healthcare via the phone, therefore adding more staff for no additional compensation is not tenable. This is just one example where the physician is feeling the bite of having to pay more for a practice that produces less income.
There is no best practice for number of phone receptionists to number of physicians and non-physician providers. Every practice is different based on the specialty, the practice culture and staffing structure.
When the problem is the phones, the issue is complex. Doing a poor job of answering the phones not only causes patient dissatisfaction, it snowballs as patients call back again looking for answers, causing confusion and inefficiency. Poor phone management also has the potential to compromise care if a patient’s question goes unanswered.
Where do you start to tackle the problem with the phones?