Published - May/June 2021 Edition of BC Advantage Magazine
What We Have Learned from COVID-19: MythBusters
By Dave Jakielo
Well, 2020 certainly was a unique year. Thanks to COVID-19, we had to adapt our businesses to a new, untested model, not by choice, but out of necessity. Our long-term strategic plans became confetti as they were devoured by our paper shredders.
Many businesses adapted and prospered; unfortunately, some had to shutter their doors and there has been a definite uptick in acquisition activity. It seems that everyone is reevaluating their future and deciding what they want to do short, mid, and long term.
Medical billing companies have been running pretty much the same for many decades, but almost overnight, COVID-19 taught us that there's a new way to do business. The old answer to, "Why do you do it this way?" being "Because we have always done it this way," sure flew out the window.
Now that we have been forced to change how we operate, many have found that how we thought we had to do business to be successful was made up of many myths. Let's examine some of the business practices that have radically changed.
For years, employees have been asking if they could work from home, and most requests were denied because we thought productivity would plummet. Well, we didn't have a choice during the onset of the pandemic; everyone was sent home in March of 2020, and in most cases, not only were there no hiccups in productivity, but it actually increased. Sure, there are some employees who were not productive in the new environment, working from home, but trust me, they weren't productive in your office either—they were just good at faking being busy.
Another myth was that we need to have face-to-face, in-person meetings with our clients, either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc. Given the virus, we did not want to see them in person, and they didn't want to see us either. It's funny how quickly we all adapted to GoToMeeting, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. These solutions work almost as well, and another bonus is that it saves us a bundle in travel time and expenses.
Myth number three, who would have ever thought we could continue to deliver excellent service and not need to have elaborate or even any office space? We no longer need to haggle over how much square footage we need or how much we should pay for it. Many of your team members will never need to return to the office; working from home suits them fine and has increased their effectiveness and efficiency. I have some clients who adopted a work from home model for their team over a decade ago and it has been a successful way to run a medical billing RCM company. Rent is usually your second largest expense after salaries and benefits, so if you minimize or eliminate paying rent, the money saved drops right to the bottom line or is available for reinvestment into your company or employees.
Lastly, you have learned that you need to "Inspect what you expect"; if you have ever attended any of my leadership seminars over the years, I always emphasize this point. It's imperative that you set goals and reasonable productivity targets, but you just can't set them and forget them; rather, you need to review your team members' efforts. Someone needs to regularly review what each person is doing to ensure productivity targets are being met, as well as checking for accuracy. When people are underperforming or making mistakes, it is not generally because they are lazy or incompetent; the most common cause is that they were not properly trained. When working remotely, it is more important than ever to have complete and up-to-date policy and procedure manuals. You cannot hold people accountable for something that isn't documented. Without proper documentation, you can fall into the "He said, she said" conundrum.
I'm sure you have found other myths that we have always believed in, but now discovered that they are not true either. Make sure you take advantage of this unique situation; it is time for you and your team to rethink and retool every policy and procedure. Challenge your staff and colleagues to come up with innovative ideas that improve productivity, further reduce costs, and enhance client satisfaction.
Most importantly, stay safe and healthy until we arrive at the "new normal" — whatever or whenever that will be.
Dave Jakielo, is an International Speaker, Consultant dedicated to the Medical Billing Industry, Executive Coach, and Author, and is President of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is a Founder and past President of Healthcare Business and Management Association and the National Speakers Association, Pittsburgh. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at www.Davespeaks.com. Dave can be reached via email Dave@Davespeaks.com; phone 412-921-0976.