Will A Health Care Plan Affect Staffing?

A friend of mine, Mitch Mitchell, writes a health care newsletter. In one of his recent newsletters, he wrote about what might happen with medical billing if a health care plan is actually passed by the government. In was interesting, but the thing that caught my eye was his prediction that, at least initially, it might require the increase in staffing.

Throughout the history of medical billing, every time there’s some kind of change, there’s always been this question about whether staffing needed in increase or decrease. In many instances, administration was promised that with certain changes staffing would decrease, saving them money. That used to be true when hospitals were moving from paper billing processes to computer billing systems, but those days are gone. Reductions don’t come from changing computer systems anymore. Reductions only occur when facilities find ways to improve their staff, such as better training or processes.

Anyway the prediction of increased staffing is something that facilities must think about if a government option takes place. A lot of people iwll need to learn the new billing systems, and at that point they have to figure out how to deal with training their current staff needs while keeping up with billing that already exists.

That’s where an interim staffing company can help. As new processes are learned, there’s often not a need to continue with higher staffing levels. Bringing in interim personnel to help out for a short period of time isn’t a bad thing. Interim personnel could take care of current billing while your staff takes the time to learn new processes. If you find that you need to increase staff to handle things, interim staffing still might be able to help with the transition time, because we expect that some of the people we employ will also learn the new processes so that we can send them to facilities that might need assistance as well.

I’ts just something else to think about, in case a federal health care program does come.

Happy Belated National Staffing Week

Last week was National Staffing Week, where tribute was paid to the estimated 3 million people who get work through staffing agencies.

This year has seen a high number of people looking for some kidn of employment through staffing agencies, and we’re no different. We have had the opportunity to review more qualified candidates for positions without having to recruit as much than at any other time since we’ve been in business.

At the same time, we’ve also seen a decline, at least in the first half of the year, in the number and types of available positions for our staff. It’s not that facilities haven’t wanted to work with us because of something we did. It’s because the shaky economy scared a lot of facilities off from wanting to spend money they weren’t sure they were going to be able to continue bringing in.

With worries about the potential federal health care program and cuts in both Medicare and Medicaid, the first six months of the year weren’t great for our industry. Business did start to pick up as we got further into summer, as hospitals and other entities realized that they just couldn’t continue putting off getting help because of the unknown.

Though we’re a week late in doing it, we’d like to thank all of the people who work with us, and let them know that we appreciate their trusting us in finding places for them to work, as well as to thank those clients of ours who have worked with us. We’re happy to have another year to work with both sides.

Evaluating Staffing Properly

I was reading an article the other day that talked about hospital staffing. On one level, it mentioned that some hospitals have too much staffing and need to take a better look at how they use their personnel. On another level, they talked about hospitals that, once they start cutting staff, don’t do the proper evaluation and end up cutting staff that’s actually more beneficial to their facility than what they were thinking about.

The worth of business office people is devalued because most of these people don’t have degrees, don’t have certifications, and may never qualify for management level positions. Yet, these are the people who bring in the money to a facility. Just like other positions within a hospital where the people don’t have the advanced degrees, or may not generate revenue, they’re as important to the overall operation of a hospital, if not more at times.

This is how we see it. The radiology department may be able to generate a charge that brings $3,000 worth of revenue to the hospital, but the billing department is the one that collects the money. In a situation like that, having one person to work the claims of one radiologist might be overkill, but it probably takes at least one person to do it. When it’s a big facility like a hospital, quite often these departments are either understaffed or under trained, and thus things don’t go quite as hoped for. If your accounts receivables department already has days in outstanding receivables higher than 70, the last thing they need to be thinking about is cutting staff.

Now, when it comes to hiring staff, maybe their thought process should be to bring in interim staff from a company like Expeditive, someone who you know has the background and training so that they don’t have to wonder if they know what they’re doing. And, since it’s interim staff, they wouldn’t have to worry about payroll or benefits or vacation; they just have to negotiate the rate with the staffing company and that’s that.

It’s always important to evaluate the importance of all staff properly. Without all of them in some legitimate capacity, your facility won’t be allowed to stay open for long.

Placing High Level Consultants

The biggest success Expeditive has ever had was when we placed multiple management level personnel at a hospital in New York. It worked great because this hospital was open to having a number of high level professionals come in to help them get on track, as they had multiple positions open and multiple problems as well.

The types of management level personnel we were able to bring in were:

* Director of Patient Accounting
* Director of Admissions
* Chargemaster Coordinator
* Supervisor of Nursing Home Billing
* IT Consultant
* Collections Supervisor
* Cash & Denials Consultant

Most of these consultants were on site for at least a year, offering all sorts of assistance to the administration of the hospital. Only two of them were native to New York, which shows how consultants can work anywhere. And, although each of these people fit specific needs for the facility, they all ended up working together in some capacity because all of them had experience in overseeing most of the other positions at one time in their history.

Not every hospital will need consultants to be on hand for over a year, but that’s not our point. This particular hospital had major problems, and in a year, along with other consultants that were brought in for ancillary departments, they were able to help this hospital attain profitability within that year they were there. It took a concerted effort from everyone to affect the turnaround, but they got it done. And, if we’d needed to send more people in, we were ready. That’s the benefit of concentrating in one field; we have a lot of names and a lot of people ready to go.

Indeed, there are companies out there who can give you what you need; we’re one of those companies, and we’re proud of it.

Will Your Staffing Needs Change With A New Health Care Bill?

Yesterday, Senator Max Baucus of Montana introduced the Democrat’s health care bill. At a price tag of around $850 billion, it’s a pretty costly plan that may or may not get signed into law.

Many hospitals around the country have held back on hiring consultants or interim staff during this uncertain period, in part because they wanted to see what kind of potential health care bill might be coming, and in part because the government indicated that there might be some cuts to Medicare or Medicaid payments. These would greatly impact hospitals and physicians who participated in either program, so hospitals wanted to take some time to refigure their budgets.

Now that there’s something out there, what are your thoughts on how it will affect your hiring practices? What about interim staffing to help get things ready for what may potentially come? The one thing that’s certain is if this bill, or any bill, gets passed, there will be a new player on the market that’s going to need to be billed, and some of the rules will probably change. If your billing department is already behind, it’ll be tough to catch up when staff have to learn how to bill something brand new.

There are no answers either way at this juncture, but know this. Whenever a new health care plan comes around, we will definitely make sure that anyone we help put into any health care situation will at least have some kind of knowledge as to how these claims need to be processed.

Before Hiring A Staffing Firm

There’s an interesting article I came across titled Before Hiring A Revenue Cycle Firm. In it, the author gives 10 things hospitals should think about before they hire a firm to come in to help them out.

Every point he makes is a great one. Most of the points he makes would work well when looking at an interim staffing firm that you might consider using for extra help. In particular, these points stand out:

#3 – Find a good fit. Some hospitals work with multiple companies because they’re trying to find the best deal. The truth is that if you pick only one staffing firm to work with, both of you have the opportunity to get to know each other better, and that staffing firm will understand your needs and try to place the right person for you. They would do that anyway, but better relationships mean a better opportunity to get it right.

#5 – Identify all of the pieces in your revenue cycle. Sometimes when things aren’t working properly, it might not be the interim person you brought in, but a missed opportunity because there weren’t enough people brought in, or at least enough people with the knowledge to help you out. For instance, if you needed to bring in an interim director, it might also help to bring in an interim supervisor, even if there’s a supervisor there, to help break up the workload to get things in place quicker.

#9 – Take a hard look at your current situation. You’re paying out good money, but you also want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Sometimes, looking for someone who’ll accept $25 an hour to do a crucial job is a bad strategy. High priced personnel comes that way because they’ve proven to have special skills. Why make your staffing firm have to make a choice between the best qualified candidate and the one you say you want to pay for? Neither party is happy in that case, for more than the money spent.

I hope you take some time to check out the article; it’s very well written.

Temporary Agency Vs. Interim Staffing Agency

Expeditive is an interim staffing agency. We are not a temporary agency. Though i tmay seem to most people that these types of companies are the same, our focus is totally different.

A temporary agency focuses on a different type of employee than we do. They go for people who only want part time work for the most part, or are hoping to land a full time job by working as a temporary person first. The majority of their assignments are general office work, such as answering the phones, typing, or other office projects. Sometimes those employees will only go in for a day; sometimes they may be somewhere for a long time. The people they place tend to be local, placed locally. Many of the people they sign up might not have a lot of job skills, but if they can pass the test then they’re an appropriate candidate. Temporary agencies will take on all types of clients, not necessarily specializing in one field.

Interim staffing agencies are usually concentrated in one or two fields. For instance, we concentrate on health care staffing. There are interim staffing agencies that concentrate on information technology, engineering, even finance. When we send someone on an assignment, the shortest we’ll usually go for it a month, but even that’s usually too short many times. Every person we place has some kind of experience in doing the job. Even three years as a medical biller is pretty good experience for someone who decides they’d rather not be tied down to one specific employer. The people we contract with can live anywhere in the country, and are willing to pretty much go anywhere. We pay more because the job they do is more technical.

This shouldn’t be seen as a putdown of temporary agencies. Our focus is much different, that’s all. But it’s something for both potential prospects and clients to consider when they need assistance.