Published - October/November 2019

Developing your Team Members
By Dave Jakielo

I realize that it is getting a bit harder to maintain the same profit margins today, in a Medical Billing Company, than we enjoyed just a decade ago. And where you spend your discretionary income takes more thought.

When dollars start to get tighter, an unfortunate consequence is that some companies cut back on training and education for their team members. However, in todayís ever-changing healthcare environment, continuous learning is more important than ever. Training dollars should be budgeted for each year.

I often hear owners say that they stopped spending money on training, because, ďAs soon as I get someone trained, they leave.Ē Well, consider the alternative; you donít train them, and they stay.

Some of the critical areas where training should be ongoing include:

  • The Office of the Inspector Generalís Compliance Program Guidance for Third Party Medical Billing Companies. Published in the Federal Register December 18, 1998
  • HIPAA Certification, which is required every two years
  • Leadership Skills
  • Customer Service Skills

(Admittedly, Iím not an expert when it comes to Compliance Training. I know there are 7 Elements involved in the program, and that about sums up my expertise. However, there are many excellent consultants that can help you establish and maintain a viable program for your billing company.)

Having a plan and conducting annual training sessions with all of your team members is what separates the good companies from the mediocre. As clients get more knowledgeable about compliance, it will be harder to land larger practices if you canít prove you have an active compliance program in your company.

HIPAA certification is much easier to obtain and there are many affordable options online. The online options provide study guides and then allow you to take the exam on your own timetable. For the past decade, I have utilized an online program to obtain my certificationó renewed every two years.

Leadership skills are a necessity in todayís workplace. Our workplaces are comprised of people from five generations, work from home employees, and possibly vendors who are located halfway around the world.

In the past, many employers didnít take leadership skills into account when promoting someone. Often, a super clerk, who was really good technically at posting payments, got moved into a position where they were now responsible for a team of payment posters. And without any training, you wondered why a great payment poster didnít magically transform overnight into a great payment manager. This occurs because payment posting is a left-brain function, and leading a team of people requires right brain skills.

These super clerks are expected to make the transition from being the best at getting their work done to someone who now must get work done through others.

This is hard to accomplish without the basic skills of how to:

  • Delegate effectively
  • Hire and fire
  • Provide rewards and recognition
  • Create an environment where people will want to motivate themselves

Itís your responsibility as an owner to not set up your people to fail, but that is what happens when you promote someone into a leadership role without the proper training.

Today, customer service can seem like an oxymoron. Customer service has been on the decline for many years, and it seems that our expectations have been shrinking too. While this may be happening in various industries, you canít afford any slippage in your company.

We must always remember that we are an extension of our customerís office and how we provide service to their patients reflects more on them than it does on us. Because the public doesnít always understand the concept that the practice may be using an outside third-party billing company, when they are upset with one of our employees, they tie that back to the practice and that can lead to a negative experience for the patient.

To avoid any issues, you should record all of your incoming patient phone calls and periodically have your management team review the recordings to ensure everyone who answers your phones is handling calls appropriately. And if necessary, hold in-service training sessions of the proper dos and doníts of handling patient calls.

While profits may be shrinking, if you do not provide the proper training to your team in the above four areas, youíll probably find that profits will continue to tank. The choice is yours, but I hope youíll budget for training in your firm to help it achieve and maintain excellence.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an international speaker, consultant, executive coach, and author, and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past president of Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh Chapter. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412-921-0976.

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