staff retention

3 Staff Retention Strategies You Need to Start Using

As of 2017, the average rate of healthcare staff turnover was 20.6% – a number calculated out of 11 million employees in an array of different healthcare markets and job functions.

From 2017 to now, the healthcare market has only gotten more competitive, which gives employees an advantage while putting pressure on employers to prioritize staff retention. Every time a person leaves your organization, it comes at a high cost. Between the overtime it takes to fill in shifts, the stress that under-staffing puts on your team and the cost of onboarding new talent, you risk losing a significant amount of time and money each year if you don’t focus on staff retention.

Here are three simple, yet effective staff retention strategies to utilize.

1. Continue onboarding beyond the first week   

The onboarding process spans well beyond a new hire’s first week. It’s a process that should be carefully thought out and include an equal level of engagement from supervisors and the new employee.

A healthy onboarding period lasts about 60-90 days. This gives new hires a chance to truly get a feel for the organization. It’s their time to take on all the job functions within their role, get to know colleagues and present fresh ideas to their managers. From a leadership perspective, 60-90 days is a great time to learn a new hire’s habits. It provides a glimpse of how often an individual may show up early or come in late, call out or pick up extra shifts and/or earn recognition.

In terms of staff retention, think of a new hire’s first few months as the company’s first impression. You may have won them over during the hiring process, but you must ensure that the day to day operations and actions of others reflect what was discussed in interviews. Otherwise, you risk creating a costly disconnect.

2. Invest in professional growth

Don’t forget about a new hire once they’ve gotten settled in. In fact, make professional growth and development a priority for all the people you oversee.

This may mean you become more proactive about how employees meet continued education requirements. It might be the reason you start having more frequent one on one meetings or informally checking in with your team. Other growth opportunities include:

  • Inviting/sending staff to conferences
  • Bringing in industry experts for training opportunities
  • Offering leadership development and clear pathways for advancement

Talk to your team before you roll out any of these development initiatives. You want to make sure you offer what they really want, rather than risk acting on a false assumption.

3. Make a habit of coaching and recognizing others

Sometimes, encouraging employee growth is as simple as making a genuine connection with them. Culture is a big reason why people stay or leave their organization. You can offer all the training and development you want, but it has to be matched with a genuine concern and interest in your people in order to be effective.

Make it a point to recognize staff more. This can be something you start doing at the end of team meetings or you can develop a special retention program. It can have a competitive spin on it and recognitions can range from verbal shout-outs to special tokens of appreciation. Whatever initiative you come up with, make sure it’s received well. Don’t hesitate to adjust as needed and continue improving the program once you have a good recognition system in place.

There’s one more retention strategy worth mentioning: gather and learn from employee retention data. As you work to implement the strategies mentioned above, measure their impact. Notice what your team responds best to and find ways to build on these initiatives. The ROI of higher performance, more staff engagement and a longer average employee tenure will be well worth the time and money you invest in your team.

information overload

How to Prevent Information Overload in the Workplace

Between gathering and verifying patient data, keeping up with new regulations and managing the day-to-day operations of your organization, there’s a good chance your staff is experiencing information overload.

At some point, important details will slip through the cracks and miscommunication will become more frequent. This can lead to under-performance within your organization, as well as an increase in mistakes and staff burnout.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case for your team.

Here are five things you can do to better prevent information overload.

1. Break down your emails

Most team communication emails cram updates, action steps and requests all into one message. To point out the “main ideas,” different words and phrases within one email may be bolded, underlined, highlighted or written in a color other than black. When all these differentiators are mixed together, staff members are left having to discern what information is the most important.

This kind of confusion can be avoided if you make it an organizational standard to send clean emails. Limit the important details within one email to two or three key points – ideally, they should relate to one another.

This may increase the number of emails you send to your team, but it will also increase how well information is understood and retained.

2. Make patient data easier to manage

Another tip to ease information overload is to simplify how you gather and manage patient data. This may include:

  • Offering new patients the option to fill out forms online
  • Giving patients access to a portal with all their payment and treatment information
  • Regular staff training on coding procedures and new rules and regulations regarding patient information
  • Providing continued training on how to improve patient interactions to better get to the root of their condition and explain their role in treatment more clearly

There’s often a gap between the information that a nurse/physician writes down at the start of treatment, the information another healthcare professional utilizes during treatment and how well a patient understands their condition. Aim to close this gap by being more clear and consistent. It will transform the kind of care your staff is able to offer and significantly enhance the patient experience.

3. Create a better patient data sharing process

If you often send patient referrals to other providers, or if most of your patients are referrals, you may want to improve how you share patient data. The more effective you are at communicating patient information, the more successful treatments will be.

When miscommunication occurs between providers, it causes a costly inconvenience for patients. Individuals are left having to track down their healthcare information from various offices before their treatment can move forward. This delays care, hinders quality and can increase a patient’s risk for other conditions to occur.

But, simplifying how you share and receive patient information can make their experience much better and relieve some stress from your team.

4. Minimize out-of-work texts and calls

How often do you find yourself texting staff members to fill in for shifts? Do you have a habit of calling people on their day off?

Such communication is highly detrimental. It doesn’t give your staff a chance to unwind from their work. It makes them more likely to burn out or leave your organization.

If you have an immediate need to communicate, do so over email or via your staff scheduling portal. Calls and texts make sense during emergencies, but most of the time, they just contribute to the information overload your staff experiences every day – on and off the clock.

5. Ask for staff input

The final way to prevent information overload in your organization is to gather feedback from your team. Ask them how they feel about the current communication standards in place – both amongst the team and with patients. See what they’d like to have more training on and set aside time to come together as an organization. Staff engagement makes it much easier to eliminate confusion and to push forward new ideas. This also ensures you don’t overlook anything that needs improvement regarding the expectations you’ve set for your team and the patient data they work with every day.

Healthcare professionals are expected to provide personal, attentive care to everyone they treat, to drive innovation within their organization and adapt to industry changes. They can’t do this effectively if they’re always juggling information. Keep things clear and concise and watch how well your team – and their performance – responds.

Automated workflow

From Paper to Digital: Key Steps to Take in Your Transition to an Automated Workflow

The first step in transitioning to an automated workflow is recognizing the need to move on from manual tasks. But, once you identify the processes you’d like to improve, it can be challenging to find the right fit for your organizational needs.

Take your time in choosing the vendor you’d like to work with. Establish the must-have features you’re looking for and get a demo on the products you’re interested in. Then, create a transition plan to make sure everything goes smoothly when implementing your new processes.
Here are three simple steps to follow for a smooth transition to an automated workflow.

1. Establish a plan for managing old paper records

The information on old paper records has to be added into your new system. Whether patient history is transferred to your new eligibility and claims management software or job applications are stored on your server as you get rid of paper files, one of the main goals of transitioning to an automated workflow is to have as little paper forms left as possible.

However, it’s much easier to scan a few forms than it is to transfer multiple filing cabinets’ worth of information. Depending on the volume of information you have to manage, you may need to spread out your transition plan over a few days, weeks or even months. Regardless of the timeline, having a plan in place will ensure you don’t fall behind, and it will help prevent any loss of information. Be sure to include the proper disposal of paper records in your transition plan as well.

2. Offer thorough training for your new workflow

The purpose of automated workflows is to simplify daily operations across your organization. But, this can’t happen if employees aren’t properly trained on the new systems and processes.

Training needs to be a top priority. The better you can explain the purpose of the transition and offer assistance to staff during this time, the more effective the switch will be. Your team will feel confident in the new technology and more engaged in their work, which could lead to improved retention rates.

Set clear standards about how to handle internal information. Talk through the tools and software you’re implementing as part of your automated workflow. Maybe have an industry expert offer a workshop for your team or schedule a special training for team managers to share. Also consider offering ongoing training after the transition is complete to ensure all team members are using the new workflow at its highest efficiency.

3. Keep up with industry shifts

This step is ongoing. As you continue to grow your business and make your operations more efficient, changes to healthcare regulations and consumer needs will occur. Your workflow should be adaptable to these changes as they’re announced and implemented.

Most of the time, your healthcare IT vendor will make adaptation easy to do. They’ll adjust their software as-needed or inform you about the impact of an industry shift before the change begins. But, it’s best to keep an open line of communication with your vendor and to do your own research on industry trends.

Make it a point to look for new optimization opportunities as well. Transitioning from a paper to digital workflow is only the first step in improving organizational efficiencies. You need to keep building on the tech-savvy tools and processes you already have in place, or are looking to implement, in order to realize the highest benefit of automated work.

outsourcing operations

Outsourcing Operations: 5 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Vendor

You’ve decided it’s time to lighten up your workflow and invest in outsourced processes – now what?

First, you need to clearly identify what pieces of your workflow you want to automate or have a vendor handle for you. Next, you need to establish a plan of when/how you’d like this change to happen. Finally, you need to find the ideal vendor.

Here are five questions to ask a vendor when you begin outsourcing operations.

1. What level of access will my team have to patient information?

This is the most important question to ask. Whether you’re looking to automate parts of your RCM cycle or you’re interested in improving the quality of care your team provides, your team should have access to all the information they need.

It’s hard for billers to manage payments or nurses to understand a patient’s condition if they’re constantly having to dig for the claims and codes they need. The whole point of outsourcing is to simplify your workflow – and that means making sure access to important information becomes more available, not more complicated.

2. Will your company train my team to use your product?

You need training just as much as you need proper access. It’s not every day you change how things are done in your office. Team members will need time to adjust to the change, and they’ll also need someone to guide the way.

Taking on the training yourself leaves practically no room in your schedule to handle other aspects of the business, and you risk missing key details. Bringing the vendor in to walk your team through the process is much easier. It establishes a strong working relationship with whom you’re outsourcing, and it encourages a positive reaction from your team to this new way of doing things.

3. How knowledgeable is your staff about my industry?

It’s one thing to know how a product works and another to understand the industry problem it solves. Make sure the vendor you’re working with has a deep understanding of your business. Their team needs to be highly educated in industry standards and regulations. They should be aware of any major shifts going on and prepared to answer any questions you have about how they affect your outsourced workflow.

4. Do you offer any additional services?

The only thing better than improving one part of your workflow is improving multiple parts. One vendor may be able to do that for you, but you won’t know until you ask.

Chances are, if they can help you create more clean claims, they can also help with resubmitting denied claims. The same goes for vendors who specialize in staff management/training or ways to enhance the patient experience.

5. How are performance reports generated?

The final thing to ask a vendor is how they manage performance reports. Some vendors will offer regular reports for their products. This provides customers the data they need to better understand how a certain tool/service is impacting their organization. Other vendors leave performance reporting up to the consumer. They have a more hands-off approach, which can put a strain on the customer experience.

And ultimately, a negative experience is what these questions aim to avoid. To get the best results possible, you need to find the best vendor to fulfill your business’s needs. Mentioning the points shared above will guide you in the right direction.

workplace culture

The Key Pillars of a Strong Workplace Culture

Can you list your company values off the top of your head? Do you know anything about your team members beyond their name and what they do at the company?

If you answered “no” to either of these questions, your company culture is in trouble. Culture is the driving force of your organization. When it’s healthy and inclusive, your team produces amazing results. When the team is disengaged, they’ll do the bare minimum, make more mistakes and may even search for another job.

In order for your team to show up excited for work every day – to be fully engaged in their role, communicate well with others and push new ideas forward to make the organization better – you need to prioritize building a strong workplace culture. Start with a focus on these three things:

1. Appreciation

It’s one thing to understand the need for all team members to feel valued, but another to make a habit of expressing employee appreciation. It’s time to put a recognition process in place that works for everyone. It doesn’t have to be grand or time-consuming, but it should be effective and easy to engage with.

Maybe this means you set a daily or weekly all-team meeting for everyone to touch base. You can use this as a time to cover progress since your last meeting and open the floor for people to recognize their colleagues. Maybe you start a “high-five” communication channel within your scheduling platform or via another system. This can be a place for individuals to recognize one another at any time during the day.

In addition to an all-team effort, make it a personal commitment to appreciate your people more. Do walk-throughs in your place of work and stop to check in on people and personally thank them for their good work. Ask how you can be of service to them, too.

2. Enthusiasm

No matter what aspect of healthcare you focus on or how big your organization is, you should feel excited about the work you’re doing – especially if you’re a leader within the company.

Your work ethic sets an example for others. If you’re not engaged in meetings or taking ownership of your work, it makes people think they can act in a similar manner. But if you show up with a passion for work every day, you’ll instill that passion in others. Your workplace culture will naturally become stronger; individuals will start to communicate better, work harder and create more impressive results.

To make sure everyone is as excited about work as you are, go a little further. Create a unique company saying or a tradition/habit for everyone to enjoy. There’s no limit to what this could be, just make sure it gets the message across loud and clear that your organization is a great place to work.

3. Opportunity

Team members at all levels need to know there’s a next step for them. Otherwise, they’ll start looking elsewhere to advance their career.

As such, it falls on organizational leaders to make sure there’s a clearly communicated path for growth. Growth does vary among different positions and individual interests, but there are still certain things you can do at a general level to make sure everyone knows new opportunities are available to them.

Talk through company-wide goals with the team(s) you manage. Explain how a person’s work contributes to bigger initiatives in one-on-one meetings or when offering that personal note of appreciation mentioned above. Get involved in individuals’ goal-setting processes if you have the time available.

The more you invest in your team members, the more they will give back to you. It’s that simple, and it plays a critical role in the strength of your workplace culture.

improve employee engagement

Employee Engagement and You: What Leaders Can Do to Motivate Staff

No matter the kind of healthcare organization you run, you can’t do everything on your own. But to rely on your staff to perform at their best, you must establish a strong, consistent level of employee engagement. Each person on your team should show up to work excited for the shift ahead of them. They should feel a connection to their purpose within the organization, a sense of comradery with other staff members and be comfortable to speak up when necessary.

If you’ve been dealing with consistent tardiness, dropped shifts or frequent mistakes, your staffing challenges are likely more serious than you think.

Here are five ways to elevate employee engagement.

1. Share organizational goals

It’s easy for an individual to become disconnected with their work if they don’t understand the role they play within the group. As such, it’s the responsibility of organizational leaders to make everyone feel valued.

Make an effort to share high-level goals with all your staff members and cater the messaging to specific departments, if not to individuals. This will help every single staff member connect to their role. They’ll take on more ownership of their duties and have more pride in their work – two things that do wonders for employee engagement.

2. Encourage feedback from individuals at all levels

Just as you need to share your thoughts with everyone on your team, you should be asking for their input. Staff members rarely offer unsolicited opinions, which means it’s on you to remind each person they have a voice and encourage them to use it. Make it clear that comments and criticisms are welcome and valued by the team. This sounds simple enough, but far too many people keep comments to themselves which can lead to resentment and lack of motivation.

3. Praise in public, criticize in private

There’s a delicate balance between developing professionals with praise and with accountability. While it’s crucial to do both, it’s even more important to understand when each one is appropriate to give.

Always save criticism for private interactions. Don’t single out individuals within a group or place blame on them. Rather, pull them aside and turn a mistake into a coachable moment. Praise can be shared in private or in public. When offering either form of feedback, be as specific as you can about a person’s actions and their outcomes.

4. Remember personal details

One of the most effective ways to make your team members feel valued is to treat them as people, not assets. Make it a point to establish a healthy personal connection with the men and women on your team. Remember their birthday and work anniversary. Talk to them about their family and personal accomplishments, too.

This will increase the level of respect between you and each individual, and may lead to stronger staff relationships as well. When people start to see their colleagues as friends, they work harder and smarter together.

5. Implement an employee appreciation program

As you start to see engagement levels rise, keep the momentum going with an appreciation program. It doesn’t need to be costly or large-scale. It can be as simple as adding a shout-out feature to your scheduling program or spending five to ten minutes of a regular group meeting to share special recognition.

If you’re interested in bigger appreciation initiatives, create a company award for individuals to work toward or run team competitions throughout the year. Whatever you do, make sure it’s received well. You want your efforts to feel genuine and create effective engagement results long-term.

Boosting staff engagement should be an ongoing responsibility rather than a one-time effort. Ideally, you want your best people to stay within the organization for years, and you want good medical professionals to become the best they can be. This begins with you and how you position your team for success.

workforce optimization

Discover the Power of Workforce Optimization: 5 Benefits You Can’t Ignore

If you were to look up the definition of workforce optimization, you’d get various long-ended explanations. You’d find yourself stuck on trying to understand how it all works rather than honing in on the value of an agile workflow.

The best way to think about workforce optimization is in terms of simplicity. It’s a resource that’s meant to take complex, time-consuming tasks and make them easier to manage and more effective. This allows you to focus on the big-picture aspects of your business. It creates space to better help your team make the most use of their time and offer a more satisfactory customer experience, too.

Here are 5 ways workforce optimization creates such results.

1. Decreases human errors  

As talented as the people on your team may be, they’re not perfect. They’re bound to make mistakes from time to time while putting codes into patient records or preparing claims for submissions.

These errors may be due to lack of employee engagement in tedious tasks, or they may happen because an individual has too many things to handle at once. Whatever the reason these errors occur, they all have the same result: they slow down your team, hinder the patient experience and decrease the amount of revenue you’re able to put in the books.

Why deal with the consequences of human mistakes if you can prevent them? Automated systems are the more accurate, faster alternative you need to consider. They can help spot errors as employees work on various tasks, while giving them more time to put their strengths to use.

2. Provides higher quality care

Workforce optimization doesn’t just benefit your team – it also has a profound positive effect on the patient experience. It shifts the focus of your staff from handling claims, billing or other basic processes to giving everyone who comes through the door their full attention.

Utilizing technology creates room to have real conversations.

It gives patients and providers the time and focus they need to fully assess a condition, whether is in a mental health therapy session, a surgery consultation or in an elderly care setting. These discussions can reveal in-depth details about a patient’s condition, which are then easily accessible at a later point in time.

Tracking each patient’s conditions and needs adds to the amount of actionable data available at your fingertips.

3. Improves how you identify and treat health risks

When you consider gathering data, think of how often you see the same kind of conditions among different patients. Imagine if you had a way to track all the treatments you offer for similar conditions.

With workforce optimization, that’s exactly what you can do.

As you diagnose and treat every patient who comes through your doors, you’re preparing to provide better care for the following person who comes in. You’re collecting information that will help you identify health risks that contribute to things like infections and readmissions before they create an issue within your organization.

4. Increases employee engagement and satisfaction

One of the biggest benefits of workforce optimization is the significant increase in employee engagement it creates. Whether you’re facing high turnover within your billing department or nursing staff, advanced technology can help.

Gathering data on your employees – like how often they’re missing shifts and/or trading them or what they perform best at – puts you in a better position to utilize their talents. It helps you understand exactly how many people you need at a certain time and where each individual on your team will shine.

5. Offers a deeper understanding of all aspects of your business

What’s the greatest misunderstanding about workforce optimization? It can’t be put into a box. The second you start implementing advanced technology in your billing and payments process, for example, you’ll start to notice the positive impact it has on staff productivity and effectiveness.

The same goes for the relationship between intuitive infection tracking and patient satisfaction, and for patient care data and staff performance. One function of technology has a wide-reaching positive effect on many other parts of your business. So, why wouldn’t you start taking advantage of multiple advanced tools?

Whether you want to improve your billing process, retain top talent or see more patients every day, workforce optimization can help. It gives you the chance to replace the tedious manual tasks that are filling up your schedule with more valuable tasks that drive better results.