September 21, 2011 by Kris Jones-Bartley
With more patients going online for their medical needs, wouldn’t it be a real advantage to join them? You could earn $44,000 in the process…
Gone are the days where medical files are locked away in a drawer. Patients want to be involved in their healthcare and the internet gives them the tools to do so. Between smart phones, WebMD and social media chat rooms, patients are getting drawn in to healthcare. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 88% of American adults with internet access research health information online. 60% say that the internet influenced a decision about how to manage a health condition.
Doctors need to get in on the action and make sure their patients are getting the right information from them. Technology is the way of the future; will it also be a part of our healthcare system?
Going forward, patient care is expected to become more patient-centered and proactive with an emphasis on keeping patients healthy. With this trend comes opportunity for the provider to distinguish himself and improve the patients’ experience and health options. 51% of patients think that doctors who are open to online health tools are likely to make better care decisions (Zarb 2010). Engaging with your patients online has many benefits AND keeps you current. This helps retain patient loyalty and improves retention rates. It also helps you improve your healthcare organizations’ reputation, leading to new patients and more qualified employees.
How can getting online can benefit you, and how can patient access portals help YOUR practice?
• Availability to Patients. The simple fact that healthcare portals are available online at any time cannot be stressed enough. Health issues do not always occur during office hours and simple in office questions can be answered via online at any time. This will make everyone’s time more productive.
• Expedite Communication. Communicating test results with a patient can become very challenging with telephone tag and answering machines. With people checking their email more frequently than they do their voicemail, online communication is imperative. Notifications can go out to patients alerting them that there is important information in their secure portal, and they can view this at their convenience.
• Patient Security. If patients do something as personal as their banking online, why shouldn’t they be able to use a similar format to manage their health care. Patient portals are extremely secure and are in line with HIPPA regulations.
• Streamline Processes. Patients can make appointments, set up reminders and even pre-register for their appointments in a patient access portal. This frees up your office phone lines and allows your medical staff to focus more on in office patients.
• Rx Refill Requests. Secure patient portals allow patient’s prescription information to be loaded into their file. Refill requests can be made by the patient online and await doctor approval.
These initiatives mean investing in resources as well as your own personal commitment. CMS has offered an incentive to providers to help implement these technologies and E.H.R Systems through a Bonus Program which can provide $44,000 over a 5 year time frame to help implement these technologies and an E.H.R. system. (A larger bonus is available for qualified Medicaid providers)
The healthcare industry will benefit by working with patients as “partners” and taking advantage of the health process and internet tools to do so. Together we can embrace technology as a way to create accountability for each patient’s personal health experience.
August 11, 2011 by Kris Jones-Bartley
In last month’s blog post, Raising Your Office Up, Without Raising Paychecks, we identified the key elements of employee motivation and satisfaction; Communication, Ownership, Challenge and Respect.
This month let us build on those key elements. Read below for simple and creative suggestions for you to incorporate into your practice today!
- Ask for Input. You won’t know what your employees are thinking unless you ask. Create a suggestion box and make sure to implement what you can to show them that their feelings and ideas count.
- Monkey Around. Use “survey monkey” to survey each other’s performance and attitudes in the practice. These are anonymous and everyone is free to provide honest feedback to all employees, managers and physicians in the office.
- Turn the Tables. Enlist the staff to “survey” your patients for a period of time. Your survey should be something focused on a positive topic: For example – “What makes you laugh?”or “When are you the happiest”. Let your patients know you are creating your own office book of your findings and put copies in the waiting room when completed. Your staff is now communicating with your patients on a different level. This also becomes a different experience for your patients. Don’t forget to put aside some time to participate yourself!
- Encourage Bad Ideas. Yes, it’s the good ones you’re aiming for, but people won’t feel comfortable offering up ANY ideas if they’re feel subject to rejection. Enforce a “No Squelching”rule in meetings and brainstorms. No idea is a bad idea is a mantra that holds true and creates an environment for creativity and growth.
- Share Improvement. When positive things are happening, make them public knowledge. Instead of your typical memo, hold a team building meeting to share progress and good news in person.
- Invest in your Staff. Budget 1-2 paid training days per year for each member of your staff. Let the employee choose their own conference, course, etc. based on their interest. The only “requirement” being that the employee provide a presentation over lunch regarding what they learned and how it can be applied to the entire team.
- Create Focus. Once a month have an employee choose what they personally feel is most important to the practice. Discuss it that morning where the chosen employee makes their presentation and everyone discusses how they can incorporate this “element” into the day. End the day with another huddle over appetizers and share stories about the impact on the day.
- Brag About It. Annually, require each member of the staff to provide a 1 hour “Lunch and Learn” to the entire staff and physicians. The topic will be an element of their job that is unlikely to be understood in detail by the other staff or physicians. Let the employee educate the team on their role and capabilities. The key is not to just share information, but to provide a better understanding to the whole team of the complexities and time involved in their team-mates job duties. Topics could range from clerical to clinical. You will be amazed and the skills your staff have!
- Think out of the Box. Host a “Something Remarkable Day” in your practice. Announce it in advance and have all staff prepare their own concepts on what they will do. Provide a casual dinner together at the end of the day to discuss how each staff member approached the challenge & the experience. Is there something that can be identified from this day that you will incorporate every day?
- Switch it Up. Repetition breeds boredom. New responsibilities or rotating assignments can help employees feel challenged and valued. Helping employees learn new skills can add depth to your work group.
- Trust. Demonstrate faith and belief in your employees skill set, abilities and decisions.
- Back them Up. Everyone makes mistakes. Stand behind your staff and be supportive of them in all situations.
- Time. Your employees have a life outside of your office. Inquire about their families and remember things that mean something to them; a child, anniversary, milestone. Remember their birthdays or better yet institute a policy where each employee has a day off for their birthday. That one day a year will go a long way!
Don’t forget to celebrate success! Starting the day with bagels and coffee or having a lunch time pizza party can not only boost the spirits of your staff, it will also let them know that all their hard work is never overlooked and always appreciated.
Implement a new idea as YOUR personal challenge. Let your efforts be actions and not merely words. Your own example provides the best platform for success!
Please share your feedback with me or share your own creative idea.
July 11, 2011 by Kris Jones-Bartley
Injecting your staff with the morale they need to be happier and better workers for YOU!
“The goodwill of high wages took less than three hours to evaporate completely—hardly a prescription for boosting long-term productivity.”
(Putting Behavioral Economics to Work by Uri Gneezy and John List Sept 2006.)
Pay raises and bonuses are soon forgotten, but ongoing praise, self-worth, a sense of importance and achievement last forever. When you acknowledge and reward good behaviors, you get more of the same. Your staff expects a salary for the work they do, but they need more than money to remain loyal, enthusiastic workers. They also need a psychological paycheck.
You can give them this by providing the key things that build morale and motivate in your medical practice management; communication, a sense of ownership, encourage and challenge and most of all respect!
1. Communication is a two way street and the life blood of any organization. Keep communication positive and upbeat, even in times of constructive criticism. Communicate effectively with your employees and your practice through newsletters, team meetings and/or internal email to foster a sense of openness and shared purpose.
2. Ownership If your employees thought like owners they would never have the attitude of “that is not in my job description” or “they don’t pay me to do that.” Employees take pride in subjects that they “own”. Empower employees by giving them the confidence to succeed. Make sure your staff feels valued for their input as this will highlight their role within the organization and reinforce their practice loyalty. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well employees perform when you give them ownership of their jobs.
3. Encourage: Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. – William Arthur Ward. Encourage your employees and staff. Give them the chance to learn and grow.
4. Challenge: Right Management Consultants conducted a survey and found: 83% of workers surveyed were motivated by “challenges at work”. Employees find that day to day routines can sometimes become mundane. Excite and challenge them to use their talents.
5. Respect: Respect is still considered “The Golden Rule.” Respect not only the employees’ rights to share and express their views, and to be themselves, but their time too. This will ensure that the employees respect you and your time. In turn this increases your medical practice performance and medical practice profitability.
“When you give a little RESPECT you get a more effective organization, with reduced turnover and absenteeism and employees at all levels who are engaged, focused, and committed to succeed as a team. In short, you get maximum ROI from your organization’s most powerful resource: its people!” (Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work by Paul Marciano)
So if reward and recognition programs do not work long-term, what does?
Employers can boost employee morale by offering other perks in lieu of higher pay. Benefits such as the option for a flexible schedule; mentoring programs; subsidized education and training; and exercise programs are cost-effective ways to boost employee morale without increasing pay. Other low-cost perks that can increase morale include extra time off, a lunch with the physicians and company outings. A 2010 study of human resources managers by the staffing firm Robert Half International indicated that offering these types of perks to employees increased their loyalty to the company and helped them feel better about where they work.
It can be difficult to keep the morale high in your work place. There is a key correlation between the happiness of your employees and their work performance. Engaged employees are more productive and project positive feelings, resulting in a better patient experience. As the “face” of your practice, employees are a critical component in your ongoing success. You set the tone of your practice. Keep your spirits and morale high and your employees will follow your lead.
Next month I will provide some specific and unique changes you can implement in your practice to incorporate the above principles and help with the business side of medicine.Please send me your feed back and your ideas.