At its core, healthcare is a business. As a healthcare organization administrator or practice owner, you’re well aware of this. You need to make smart business decisions to ensure a profitable bottom line; decisions that promote quality services, compliant documentation and coding, competitive prices, and most importantly, productive employees.
But like any other business owner, you’re not just focused on a profitable bottom line – you also need to constantly increase profits. How? Most businesses focus on 3 core strategies: (1) lower prices, (2) lower operating costs, or (3) measure and increase employee productivity.
I’ve found the third strategy to be very useful to healthcare organizations and medical practices, since there’s often room for improvement. So, let’s talk. How can measuring employee productivity boost your profits?
The importance of productivity
Productivity is important in any setting. However, it’s particularly important in healthcare organizations and medical practices, where the volume of work seems to increase daily.
Coders are increasingly overwhelmed with preparing for ICD-10, capturing all relevant conditions, ensuring clinical validation for diagnoses that are coded, and querying physicians when necessary. Clinical documentation improvement specialists are faced with the daunting task of educating physicians about ICD-10 and providing documentation audits to identify gaps. Physicians, nurses, and other providers are inundated with new patients who have entered the healthcare marketplace thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The influx of new patients into the system also places an increased demand on administrative staff who must answer patient inquiries, promote the practice’s patient portal and other new technology, schedule appointments, and more.
If you’re like most healthcare organizations or practices, you probably don’t necessarily have the financial resources to hire additional full-time equivalents (FTEs) to accommodate for unexpected changes in workflow and other demands. This means you’ll need to increase the productivity of current staff members to remain fully operational.
To do this, you’ll need to have a solid process in place to ensure that all employees perform at predicted productivity levels, particularly as new tasks are added. This process is particularly important as new employees are hired. When you’re unable to closely monitor and enhance productivity, you’ll likely start to see a slow decline in profits that can ultimately lead to the need to cut FTEs during a time when those FTEs are needed most.
Finding the right candidates
Productive employees are those who not only work hard but who also believe in the overall mission of the organization. When recruiting employees, you should take the time to sort through candidates who may be looking for a short-term job vs. those who understand the critical nature of the work they perform and how it fits in with your goals.
How do you do this? Spend extra time crafting the job posting and provide information about the workplace and the organization or practice’s goals. Post the application on online job search sites to maximize exposure.
During the interview, itself, consider asking the following questions to get a sense of candidates’ work ethic:
- Why is this job important to you?
- Why do you think this job is important to the organization overall?
- How would you describe your own work style?
- Provide an example of how you’ve handled a time when you needed to multi-task and how you handled that.
- Describe a time when you set a goal at work. Explain how you accomplished that goal.
Performing ongoing productivity analyses
Setting productivity goals and monitoring those goals regularly is an important component of overall success. The specific goals will vary according to function; however, what’s most important is that you take the time to establish these goals and hold all staff accountable for achieving them. This includes tracking employee time management and attendance, both of which are critical to productivity. Revisit these goals throughout each month. When productivity has declined, identify and address the root cause of the problem. When productivity has remained constant or increased, take the time to praise and reward employees for their good work.
Providing training, when necessary
Knowledge is power, and employees remain productive when they have the most updated information they need to perform their jobs. For example, staff performing coding require ongoing ICD-10 training, access to quarterly changes published in Coding Clinic, and more. Patient registration and billing staff members need ongoing training regarding medical necessity and other insurance policy changes. Providers need training regarding the most updated clinical protocols and/or how to use the EMR. Some employees could benefit from refresher training or more specialized education in an area in which they need improvement. Establish a schedule for employee-specific training and then track employee compliance with that schedule.
Measuring employee productivity is an important aspect of running a business that no healthcare organization or medical practice can afford to overlook. Employee productivity is important for everyone, and it is particularly important for those roles that are task- and volume-driven. Take the time to establish role-specific productivity standards, educate employees about these standards, and then hold individuals accountable for meeting—and exceeding—these requirements.
Monitoring employee productivity ensures that employees are performing at full capacity, maximizing their time and getting high-quality results. When all employees give 100% effort to ensure productivity, the business benefits. Dedicated employees who strive to improve performance and increase their knowledge may be one of the most important weapons a healthcare organization or medical practice has against the big changes in healthcare and top threats to revenue this year.
Are you measuring employee productivity? Leave a comment below.