There are a host of technology tools available to help medical offices streamline workflow and get claims paid faster but those tools aren’t always used consistently or effectively. According to revenue cycle management experts, this is because small to mid-sized offices often fail to budget enough time and money for training.
“No matter where I go, it’s tough to get the staff — and even tougher to get physicians —to step away from their jobs and focus on training,” said Derek Kosiorek, a principal consultant with the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association. “Physicians tend to view time spent training as time they are not billing.”
However, knowing how to incorporate technology tools into clinical care is more important than ever as the industry moves toward alternative payment models, said Lucy Zielinski, vice president of The Camden Group, a Los Angeles-based healthcare business advisory firm.
“Using patient registries, reminders, and other tools is critical to maximizing revenue,” she said. “As payers move toward value-based care, we are seeing more technologies around managing the care of the patient.”
The most successful offices prioritize training in the budget and incorporate it into daily practice, experts said. Consider the following tips for keeping your staff up to speed:
Create a formal training program. Many offices dispense with formal training after the initial period of vendor education following EHR implementation, said Kosiorek. However, an ongoing formal program is vital to ensuring that technology tools are used consistently and effectively across the practice. “The worst person to train someone is the person sitting next to them,” he said. “You risk that employees will pass along wrong information and develop bad habits.”
Appoint super users. Every office should designate one or more super users to verify that employees are optimizing their use of technology and following standard practices, said Kosiorek. “You need periodic verification that people are using the tools appropriately and getting training when needed.”
Cross train. Small to mid-size-offices benefit from cross training administrative and clinical staff, said Zielinski. “The folks in the business office should understand what goes on at the front desk and vice versa,” she said. “Everyone should have an appreciation for one another’s jobs and an understanding of the revenue cycle from beginning to end.”
Focus on individuals. Group training is important to keep everyone on the same page but individual attention is the best way to ensure that each employee knows how to use the tools most relevant to their day-to-day work, said Kosiorek. “Sit with someone while they are doing their job,” he advised. If possible, have a trainer watch someone perform specific tasks that they do everyday and offer tips on how to work more efficiently.
Share goals. Training should include a discussion of the office’s overall revenue goals and targets, and how using technology tools helps achieve them, said Zielinski. Underutilization or misuse of technology leads to an inefficient revenue cycle, she noted, “which leads to waste, higher costs, and potential loss of revenue.”