Every healthcare leader has a job to do that is centered around ensuring quality patient care and a healthy revenue cycle so services can continue to be provided to their communities. Continuous regulatory changes, funding cuts and increased out of pocket patient responsibility makes it very difficult for these healthcare organizations to stay financially afloat. If you are in healthcare or service this industry, then you know this all too well. Then here comes 2020 – the unplanned event – the crisis – the pandemic that no one was ready for which we now call COVID-19. We shifted in the pandemic and did what all great leaders do – we adjusted. Leaders like yourself moved their teams remote /virtual while our health care heroes were on the front lines stayed focused on delivering quality patient care. While change is our only constant in this process, we all know that the revenue cycle opportunities faced prior to COVID-19 never went away yet new ones only have kept piling on. Meanwhile, we have asked and required our teams to adapt at an extraordinary pace. This article is focused on strategies to stay focused on your people, your team and some tactics to keep an engaged workforce. Supporting your people with the right leadership, processes and technologies will allow them to perform their jobs at their best, reduce churn and improve retention.
As leaders, we need to take time to invest in our people as they are all unique with different life and professional goals. Each one of our team members deserves to have their leader invest time in understanding who they are, what is important to them and how you can best support them. We do this through asking them, active listening with intent and providing support where needed. I have personally been its meetings with my manager, and they have never asked me. Those are the managers not leaders that I walked away from at some point. Great people surround themselves with great leaders regardless of title, position or authority. At your next 1-1, ask your employee how they are doing with life in general, how are they doing with the changes with COVID, ask them what would be a personal win for them if something changed? Invest in them as people. Listen with intent. Use the first 10 minutes to talk about anything they want to talk about. Don’t worry the business will still take care of itself and your metrics will be fine. Throughout my career, the more I invest in people the deeper appreciation I have for them which makes me invest even more to help them grow. It becomes my mission…my purpose….my goal… and everyone wins – the company, the employee and me because it feels good when I lay my head on the pillow every night. When we open the dialogue and they start sharing what is bothering them whether that is personally or professionally – the pure act of listening, acknowledging and offering support goes along way. I have had employees leave my office on many occasions saying thank you, but they are the ones to be thanked. Everyone achieves more when the employee and people feel valued as a person.
During COVID, many leadership teams have struggled with keeping their employees engaged in different ways and the typical in-office/person communication slowed down that would normally happen. Some people believe this allowed productivity go up, but we all know that knowledge sharing/collaboration was impacted. As teams start to transition back in the office or maybe you are still all virtual – we must find new ways to engage our teams, keep their motivation high and ensure team collaboration continues. Knowledge sharing is so important and as leaders we must create opportunities for our teams to collaborate. When an employee loses engagement – they lose focus on their jobs – mistakes can happen and this can cause significant impacts to your revenue cycle. One of the tips that I have picked up during the years was to do a daily speak up/stand up. It’s no more than 15-30 minutes. I would typically host these in the morning and/or mid-day depending on time zone coverage. Here is what happens – everyone shares their top 2-3 goals for today and share their top 1-2 accomplishments from prior day. We celebrate these because it feels good. These daily speak-ups/ stand-ups often end in excitement, focus, accountability and builds a positive team morale. As a leader, it is privilege to get the opportunity to engage with each of my team members daily like this and as a team it is a necessity for morale.
Also, those weekly team meetings – who is the one doing the talking? If you as the leader are doing all the speaking, then something needs to change. I started to shift this dynamic over many years. I would leverage this time to have your team do the speaking, sharing and your dialogue will now become a two-way street. For example, maybe have one of your billing team members share how to best resolve top issues by payer or a new regulatory change or how to address a patient or customers concern. Try bringing in others from a cross functional team to provide an update on top issues and how to resolve. Everyone touches the revenue cycle process from scheduling, registration, coding…billing. There are lots of ways to engage and collaborate across teams and within your team. It is time to adjust your agenda to be less focused on the metrics but what are the actions everyone is taking daily to support a healthy revenue cycle. When everyone is collaborating and focused on delivering their best work then the metrics will show that. Celebrate the actions that drive great results.
ASSESS. EDUCATE. DEVELOP.
We need to understand the knowledge/skills of our team and how to best ensure that every team member is being developed to perform at their best in their current role while supporting them in their career growth goals. With so many changes happening in healthcare, this must be an ongoing process and needs to be priority for every leader. If you haven’t done this yet, every position needs to have skills mapped out and experience required to deliver based on the organization’s requirements. Most leaders have this for their functional roles, but it is what you do with it that makes it such a vital action to retaining a smart balanced workforce. Once you have this then it is time to assess your employees to the job requirements and skills needed to perform the job. I look for gaps in ability vs. willing to learn. For those that have knowledge gaps then this is a great opportunity to work with those employees to get them the knowledge and experience. This can be done informally or formally through a learning plan. Learning plans where the employee is involved and accountable to their learning seems to be more productive. It feels good as an employee to know that their leader is supporting them with developing their knowledge and skills. It is our job to make sure they are getting the education needed. When assessments and learning plans are done regularly then you are consistently developing your team to perform at their best and grow with the organization. Budgets do not always allow for outside resources to deliver formal training but we are in this powerful network within healthcare and there is someone always willing to give a bit of time so leverage your team, your network and make sure your team is getting the knowledge they need to perform at their very best.
In closing, 2020 has been quite a year of changes. Our opportunities as leaders and managers is to ensure that we continue to engage, develop and support our people. When we do this, it allows us to focus on ensuring that quality healthcare can be continued to be delivered. Let’s continue to iterate as leaders and stay focused on helping people in whatever capacity/form that needs to be.
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