Can You Go It Alone?

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article that I added to an article database titled Can You Go It Alone. In that article, I talked about the need sometimes to do something drastic in finding a way to attack bad accounts receivables within a hospital’s revenue cycle process. And one of those drastic moves I mentioned was to bring in a revenue cycle consultant to help out.

Let’s face this fact; there are a lot of both good and bad consultants out there. The bad ones give the good ones a bad name. Sometimes it’s hard to know who’s who based on just talking to them, because anyone with even a few years in the business knows how to talk a good game. Then you’ll bring them in and not get what you expected, and they’re gone one day and you’ve ended up with nothing positive to show for your money.

Something a medical staffing agency can do is help to make sure you’re getting someone with the proper skills. Of course, you also have to know what it is you’re expecting and to be ready to hear “that won’t work”, or any number of recommendations from a consultant. They have no agenda, and aren’t out to get anyone, even if they’re being brought in with the goal of helping to reduce staff.

Good consultants know that their next big assignment might depend on how well they helped the previous client; bad consultants just expect that they’ll get something else one day and not worry about it. Medical staffing agencies like Expeditive can help you get it right the first time around.

It’s possible that you can go it alone. But if you can’t, at least you know there are plenty of options for you to pursue.

Three Reasons To Think About Working Independently

Did you see the news a couple of days ago? Over a million people have lost their unemployment benefits, which includes their COBRA coverage for health care. It’s a scary time for a lot of people who have been used to working the traditional 9-5.

If you’ve never thought about it before, it’s not a bad idea to sign up for a staffing agency, no matter what your background happens to be. We at Expeditive concentrate on health care finance, but there are plenty of staffing agencies that are looking for the skills you probably have. Why sign up with a staffing agency? Here are 3 great reasons.

1. Flexibility. If you get an assignment from a staffing agency, that doesn’t totally lock you into the normal 9-5. If you need a day off or a few hours off, you can take them since the company you’re working at isn’t losing anything. Sure, you won’t get paid for the time you miss, but sometimes you need the ability to leave, such as if you’ve got a job interview for something permanent.

2. Pay. Depending on your job skills, sometimes you’ll find that you make more money working at an independent contractor than you did at your regular job. Think about how nice it would be if you could make the money you used to make in half the time.

3. The job itself. Sometimes you’ll find that you actually like working in the new place, and they like you as well. Being hired by someone while working an interim gig happens all the time. It’s a nice little trial period and, because you’ve been somewhat on the outside, you’ve had time to integrate yourself into the company without much pressure to be a perfect performer.

Think Of Staffing Like Joint Commission Does

Every hospital in the country has heard of the Joint Commissions on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), even if they don’t use them for reviewing their hospital standards. JCAHO is known to be tough, with a great emphasis on regulations and rules for every area of consideration a hospital has to address, even down to things such as putting stoppers in doors (they don’t like that).

Something many people might not know is that JCAHO also has thoughts on proper staffing levels at hospitals, including interim staffing standards. Though not specific to the revenue cycle, it’s interesting to see some of what they believe:

* At least once a year, an organization must provide its Board of Directors with written reports on: (i) all system or process failures; (ii) the number and types of sentinel events; (iii) whether the patient/resident and their families were informed of the event; (iv) all proactive and responsive actions taken to improve staffing safety; and (v) all results of analyses related to the adequacy of staffing.

* When an organization identifies undesirable patterns, trends, or variation in its performance related to the safety or quality of care, it includes the adequacy of staffing in its analysis of possible causes.

* When analysis reveals a problem with the adequacy of staffing, an organization’s leaders responsible for patient/resident safety are informed of the results of this analysis and action is taken to resolve the identified problems.

* At least once a year, an organization’s leaders responsible for the patient/resident safety program review a written report of the results of any analysis related to the adequacy of staffing and any actions taken to resolve identified problems.

Overall, it’s a great outline to use when thinking about staffing levels at your hospital in all departments. As it pertains to the revenue cycle, verifying that there’s enough staff to handle all outstanding claims is critical to the success of the billing department. Making sure that there’s someone who understands how a charge master works and why it’s critical to the success of a hospital’s financial standing is important. Making sure things such as denials, secondary billing, and even proper collection efforts are taken care of might mean taking a look at staffing and determining that interim staff is needed to help address these issues.

Sometimes, you just might need an interim consultant to come in and take a critical look at your organization, especially if those already in leadership positions are too close or too entrenched to give the effort a fair appraisal. Often the claim is that it costs too much money to bring in interim staff, no matter what level they’re at. The reality is that the money you spend just might be the different in ending the year above or below budget, based on what interim staffing can do for you.

Staffing Issues To Consider

There was an article on a blog called Office Arrow titled Cost Effective Staffing Strategies that we found intriguing. It went in a totally different direction than our last post titled Can You Go It Alone, as it addressed taking a look at how your current full time staff is performing as it pertains to issues like absenteeism, overtime, and general work performance.

Those are definitely important internal issues for all companies to review because it could be indicative of a breakdown of work practices throughout a business. In an odd way, some of those issues could lead you to determine that you could use the services of a staffing agency when applied to your medical financial offices because they might highlight why you would want to consider getting outside help.

For instance, let’s take a look at overtime. If you’re paying your staff a lot in overtime hours and they’re still not catching up, it might indicate that you need more people on the job. One of the problems with just hiring a new person is that you have to go through a long training process and that could mean your departments will fall behind even further. Bringing in someone with experience already helps you catch up while also taking time to train a permanent employee.

The same type of thing could relate to dealing with high numbers of absenteeism. At a certain point you as the employer are going to have to do something about it, but you still can’t afford to fall too far behind. You could determine to outsource some of your work, or you could bring in an interim person or persons to help you catch up while training the new person. You could also bring in interim people while you evaluate things to determine if there are other changes needed.

Interim staffing companies can offer many business solutions that help companies buy themselves some time while making sure they don’t fall too far behind on the important daily operations that help them sustain themselves.

Can You Go It Alone?

Something that we are proud of at Expeditive is our white paper, titled Can You Go It Alone? This isn’t necessarily an advertisement for our staffing company as much as a recommendation for health care entities that are having difficulties with their revenue cycle operations and ways to review how they might get out of those difficulties. We’re not going to print the entire white paper here, as we’d love for you to download it and absorb what we have to say, but we will give you some highlights here to whet your appetite.

First, facilities must determine what their issues are when the believe their financials are performing poorly. Is it the billing department? Is it medical records? Could the problem be charge capture? Could there be an issue with how the budget was put together? Maybe there’s a logjam at registration which results in poor information capture. It could be many things, and they might take time to review.

Second, what do you want to do when you’ve figured things out? Can you handle it all with the people you have, or do you need some kind of outside assistance? Do you want to outsource things, or bring someone in to work on your issues? Do you need some leaders, or some independent workers? Do you need training of some sort?

Third, what would be success to you? Sure, you might want it all, but can you afford it all? Do you want quick results or are you willing to take the time to get it right?

And fourth, where can you go to get this help? For that one, click on the first link in this post and see if we might be able to offer you what you need.

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.