A Patient Access Representative appears along with the blog title, Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week.

Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week: An Interview with Joyce Bryant

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week: An Interview with Joyce Bryant

Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Patient Access Week is here!

Many managers may be looking for ways to recognize their hard-working patient access employees.

HealthWare Systems recently spoke with Joyce Bryant, who served over 8 years managing a centralized high volume call center consisting of 50+ Patient Access Specialists for four hospitals and five outpatient facilities as a Regional Director of PreAccess.

Joyce explained that it can be difficult to come up with activities for 60+ people, especially with budget obligations.  But she and her managers were able to find creative ways to celebrate their patient access employees during Patient Access Week, and each was a big hit!

Check out her ideas for celebrating Patient Access Week!

Work Station Bingo

A Patient Access Representative appears along with the blog title, Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week.

Celebrate Patient Access Week with these ideas!

“You can’t shut down your call center to play games and do get-togethers.  So, I came up with the idea of playing Bingo at their desk.  I had a manager go buy a Bingo game (we reused it every year).  We made copies of the Bingo Cards and handed them out to the staff.  The manager would then pull a Bingo number and email the number out in the subject line of the email.  The email pops up on everyone’s screen, with the number in the subject line, and they mark their sheet.  It’s not disruptive to patient scheduling and the verifiers can play while they’re on hold with insurance companies.  If they are busy, the numbers are all in their email and they can easily catch up.  The first one to email back ‘Bingo!’ wins.  As far as prizes, we planted succulents in dollar store pots, gave out movie theater-sized boxes of candy, or water bottles or mugs filled with M&M’s.”

Nacho Cart

“I went to Gordon’s Foods and bought a large can of nacho cheese, paper holders and several bags of taco chips.  It cost me around 16 dollars for 60 people.  What makes it special is, I put the slow cooker with the cheese in a cart and walked around the department serving it to my staff.  It gave me the opportunity to thank each staff member and let them know how much I appreciate the work they do for our patients.”

Pancake Day

“I brought in pancake mix, syrup, oranges and bananas.  It cost 25 to 30 dollars for 60 people.  I put on my apron and started serving up pancakes.  I started with the early shift and ended with the 10:30 (late shift).  Again, it’s not just the food they appreciated.  It’s the fact that we managers were thanking everyone as they walked in.  It was a great way to connect.”


“I’m a baker and like to make Cupcake Wars types of cupcakes.  Not everyone’s a baker, but you can tap into the skills of your managers as well.”

Employee of the Month Board

“Appreciation doesn’t need to be just for a week.  Each team had a monthly employee appreciation bulletin board (Employee of the Month).  The team members post notes of appreciation to their teammates when they find that they’re going above and beyond.  On the first of the month, the manager takes down the notes and puts them in a hat and pulls out one.  She then sends an email to the team with that employee’s name and what they did to be nominated for “Employee of the Month.”  That employee got a small prize (a plant, $10 gift card to the cafeteria, etc.).”

More Patient Access Week Ideas

On top of the ideas Joyce provided, you can find other fun activities on NAHAM’s website.  If you’re looking for more prize options, visit NAHAM’s online store featuring promotional items for Patient Access Week.  And don’t forget to share your activities and recognize your patient access employees on social media!

In addition to celebrating Patient Access Week, you can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of the year’s health observances and recognition days here.

By Stephanie Salmich

A group of Millennial healthcare employees appears with the blog title: Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A group of Millennial healthcare employees appears with the blog title: Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

Using gamification and social media in healthcare can help you in attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

In Part 1 of our 2-part blog about attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees, we discussed two strategies to help you improve employee engagement and employee retention among the ever-increasing largest share of the U.S. workforce: promoting your mission and investing in education.

Here are two more suggestions for attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees:

Embrace Social Media in Healthcare

Social media in healthcare can be invaluable for attracting Millennial healthcare employees.  For example, Hospitals & Health Networks reports that All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida uses social media to engage potential new hires with stories, images, and videos that highlight what it’s like to work at their facility and live in their city:

“At All Children’s, a new nurse blogs about her experiences behind the scenes. The transport team writes a periodic series about their adventures. The hospital home page features ‘Shift Change,’ a one-minute video with action music that includes fast-paced scenes from a single day at All Children’s mixed with shots of Central Florida night life and beach sunsets.”

Exceptional internal communication is also essential for retaining Millennial healthcare employees.  Many Millennials desire more feedback from their managers at work and are accustomed to instantaneous communication.  Commit to increasing the amount of feedback you provide in order to improve employee engagement, and ensure you have a system in place that enables real-time communication among employees and departments.

Utilize Gamification Strategies

Millennial speaker Ryan Jenkins describes gamification as “the use of game design techniques and mechanics in a non-game context to solve problems and engage users.”  He provides the gamification examples of tracking frequent flyer miles, credit card points, and fantasy football scores and explains the attraction:

“When humans achieve new levels in games, the brain releases dopamine which prompts excitement, encourages exploration to try new things, and helps combat the stagnation caused by failure. The reward-motivated behavior induced by dopamine is the key to increased employee engagement, overcoming challenges, and increased innovation through exploration.”

Incorporating gamification features like competition, rewards and incentives, point scoring, and real-time, instant feedback into the workplace may appeal to Millennial healthcare employees (who grew up playing video games and games on their mobile phones) and can improve employee engagement for all generations.

For instance, try implementing tools that monitor registrars’ patient encounter accuracy relative to their peers, and provide performance incentives to improve employee engagement and recognize accomplishments.  This will create a fun, competitive atmosphere and provide Millennial healthcare employees with the feedback they crave.

As noted in Part 1 of this blog, most Millennials want the opportunity to learn at work.  Gamification can be used to improve employee engagement with training and online learning as well.

Many Millennials want to work in healthcare; according to a survey of 18,000 Millennials, about 40% plan on working in medicine or health-related fields.  Healthcare facilities that consider the values of this generation of workers in their efforts to improve employee engagement and employee retention will have the most success in attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

These strategies, embracing social media in healthcare and utilizing gamification, along with those outlined in Part 1 of this 2-part blog (promoting your mission and investing in education), will appeal to Millennial healthcare employees and lower your turnover rates for this group of workers.

Editor’s Note:  This is Part 2 in a 2-part blog series.

By Stephanie Salmich

A group of Millennial healthcare employees appears with the blog title: Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A group of Millennial healthcare employees appears with the blog title: Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

Promoting your mission and investing in education will help you in attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

Attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees should be a major priority for health systems. 

This group now makes up the largest share of the U.S. workforce and is projected to make up 75% of it by 2025.  Hospitals must improve employee retention when it comes to Millennials in order to avoid costly employee turnover from this increasing majority in the workplace.

Here are some suggestions for attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees:

Promote Your Mission

Many Millennials have a desire to find purpose in their work.  Research conducted by Great Place to Work found Millennials are six times more likely to plan to remain with their employer when they find “special meaning” in their work, and that “leading employers use different ‘meaning archetypes’ to help employees connect to their work and feel part of something significant.”

For example, Millennials tend to care about corporate social responsibility.  An organization that prioritizes “going green,” charitable giving, or service opportunities may appeal to a Millennial job seeker.  Jennifer Thew, a nurse and editor for HealthLeaders Media, suggests:

“Perhaps an opportunity to work at an organization that helps improve the health of patient populations who are dealing with poverty, poor health incomes, unemployment, or are part of an immigrant population could be attractive to a millennial nurse.”

The healthcare industry naturally fits into this category of meaningful work as most healthcare workers pursue this field with the desire to help others.  But, it’s not enough to rely on that convenience; a facility must actively communicate its mission.  As Benjamin Anderson, CEO of Kearny County Hospital, stated in an interview with HealthLeaders Media:

“If you don’t know your mission, then the default mission becomes to stay open another day, and I don’t know very many mission-hearted, bright medical providers or clinicians that get excited working for an organization whose goal is to stay open another day.”

Furthermore, he points out the importance of the employee’s and organization’s goals aligning:

“It really is about understanding each recruit’s motivations, and knowing the mission and purpose of the organization, and matching the two.  If they don’t match, the person is not going to stay.  If they do, it’s a very good thing.”

Prioritizing and nurturing your clinicians’ passion for helping patients and making a difference will improve employee engagement with their work and may also help prevent the burnout that often results from emotionally exhausting work, which is another major cause of turnover.

Invest in Education

Millennials are set to be the most educated generation thus far, and polls indicate that this generation of workers values continued learning.  According to a recent Gallup report:

  • 59% of Millennials “say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.”
  • 87% of Millennials “rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job.”
  • Only 39% of Millennials “strongly agree that they learned something new in the past 30 days that they can use to do their jobs better.”
  • Less than one in two Millennials “strongly agree that they have had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year.”
  • Only one-third of Millennials “strongly agree that their most recent learning opportunity at work was ‘well worth’ their time.”

HealthLeaders Media describes how Fairview Health Services improves employee retention through its internal perioperative nurse training program, which it developed in response to serious perioperative nursing vacancies it was facing.  The organization invests in its employees’ education by paying for the cost of the training and paying the nurses a salary while they learn.  In return, hired nurses commit to work at their accepted position for at least two years.

In the article, Laura Beeth (Fairview’s System Vice President of Talent Acquisition) explains that “‘perioperative skills are not part of the prelicensure nursing curriculum while they attend college, so it is critical we have pipelines in place to teach these additional skills.’”

Additionally, partnering with nearby colleges can offer a mutually beneficial opportunity to fill any skills gap you may be experiencing with new hires.  Hospitals & Health Networks reports that four Cleveland health systems are collaborating with a consultant to create a report “on what the future health care needs of the region will be and what the existing resources are at area colleges.”  The colleges who participate will make curriculum changes accordingly.

Investing in education by offering Millennial healthcare employees plenty of opportunities to grow and learn will not only improve employee engagement, but also supply you with superior, skilled employees.

Promoting your mission and investing in education are two excellent ways you can improve employee engagement for Millennial healthcare employees.  Be sure to check out Part 2 of our 2-part blog about attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees in which we will outline two more strategies to help you improve employee retention for this generation of workers.

Editor’s Note:  This is Part 1 in a 2-part blog series.

By Stephanie Salmich

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic, 54.4% of physicians in the U.S. report experiencing at least one symptom of professional burnout, a growing problem in healthcare.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory, an instrument used to measure burnout, defines it as “a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.”  Doctors suffering from physician burnout feel drained emotionally, grow cynical toward their patients, and view their work as meaningless.  These physicians may provide a lower quality of care, commit more medical errors, and develop an increased desire to leave a practice.

Not only does physician burnout and its ensuing turnover create significant consequences for doctors and patients, but also for healthcare facilities.  A study featured in the American Journal of Medical Quality found that physician turnover can affect an organization’s finances, patient satisfaction, other healthcare providers, and institutional public relations.

How Can You Help?

It’s in the best interests of everyone (doctors, patients, and the entire organization) when hospitals take steps toward preventing and/or reducing physician burnout:

Show Them You Care

The fact that you are searching for information on reducing physician burnout already shows you care about your physicians.  It’s important to make sure they are aware of your efforts so that they feel their work is valued and appreciated.

Investing in the well being of your doctors can pay huge dividends for your facility.  Many facilities are seeing substantial improvements in their attempts to increase physician satisfaction after introducing mindfulness training and on-the-job emotional support programs.  An added benefit of these is that they increase patient satisfaction with doctors as well.

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing physician burnout will help you increase physician satisfaction.

Help Them Rediscover Their Passion

Your physicians probably pursued a career in medicine because they wanted to make a difference in people’s lives; they didn’t become doctors for the administrative duties.  Yet, research highlighted in the Canadian Family Physician journal found that two contributing factors to physician burnout and stress are too much paperwork and long waits for specialists and tests.

You can make it easier for your doctors to focus on the aspects of their job that bring them the most meaning by implementing solutions that simplify administrative tasks.  A solution like ActiveXCHANGE, for example, can help you manage incoming physician orders and third party documentation and greatly reduces physician complaints related to lost or incomplete orders.  In fact, this system is known to increase physician satisfaction.

Eliminate Financial Stressors

In a Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, frustration with reimbursement issues was among the reasons physicians surveyed planned to reduce their working hours or leave medicine altogether.

You can limit payment glitches, and improve physician retention, by ensuring patients are financially cleared before they even present.  Read here about solutions that can verify treatment is authorized by payers before it is administered, how to prevent errors that result in payment delays and denials, and financial assistance screening tools that can help your self-pay patients.

Reducing physician burnout is crucial for both your organization and the health of the people who serve your patients.  If you can help your physicians find joy in their work, you will increase physician satisfaction and physician retention; this in turn will lead you to increase patient satisfaction with their happier, more emotionally-present physicians.

By Stephanie Salmich

Employee Satisfaction: A healthcare employee smiles at her desk.

3 Healthcare Solutions for Improving Employee Satisfaction, Engagement, & Retention

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HealthWare Systems Blog

3 Healthcare Solutions for Improving Employee Satisfaction, Engagement, & Retention

Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hospitals are continuously looking for ways to increase patient satisfaction and loyalty to their facilities.  But recent research suggests that attending to employee satisfaction first will ultimately lead to greater patient satisfaction and retention as well, thanks to the theory that loyal employees will create loyal customers.

Consider the following healthcare solutions to help you increase employee satisfaction and, consequently, patient satisfaction with your staff, your facility, and the overall patient experience.

Automate Workflow to Save Staff Time and Improve Efficiency

Your administrative staff members have a lot of responsibility.  They are accountable for gathering all the necessary information and documentation that affects whether your hospital is paid or reimbursed for services delivered.  How many times has a staff member forgotten to obtain a patient signature on just one form that eventually led to a back-end denial or rework for staff later on?  If your staff currently rely on memory to determine every document that is needed for every situation for every type of patient, in order to meet every government regulation and payer-specific requirement, there is an easier way.

An electronic healthcare forms solution can eliminate the potential for human error by automating the forms selection process, ensuring the right documentation is completed every time and anywhere a patient presents.  Furthermore, patient demographic data can be pre-populated on electronic healthcare forms with forms automation, saving your staff time from having to handwrite this information on every form.  This solution can automatically produce bar code identifiers on forms as well, eliminating the need for blue cards or a manual labeling process.

Electronic healthcare forms and forms automation can relieve many burdens from your staff, allowing them to devote more attention to delivering friendly customer service and a stress-free patient experience.

Limit the Frustrations of Rework with Deficiency Management Tools

Employee Satisfaction: A healthcare employee smiles at her desk.

Implement healthcare technology solutions that will improve employee satisfaction.

There is nothing more irritating than finishing a job, only to have to redo it due to errors or missing information.  Healthcare solutions that enforce data and documentation standards during registration can improve patient encounter accuracy by assisting registrars in capturing correct and complete information from the beginning, for every patient registration.

Preventing errors during registration can save employees from the hassle of rework that must be completed to fix earlier mistakes.  You can further improve employee efficiency with a deficiency management tool that continuously monitors each patient encounter, during registration and beyond, and flags errors and routes them to staff for resolution before they can snowball into lengthy rework down the road.

When it comes to employee satisfaction, it’s important to provide your staff with the proper tools to help them do the best job possible and take pride in their work.

Engage Employees with Incentives and Recognize Achievements

But don’t stop at improving employee satisfaction; be sure to address employee engagement as well.  Engaged employees are not only happy with their jobs, but also aware of their own impact on the organization’s reputation and are motivated to positively contribute to it.

Engaged employees feel appreciated by their managers.  Recognizing employees for their achievements can go a long way in showing them they are a valued part of your team.  One way to measure registrars’ accomplishments is by monitoring their level of patient encounter accuracy relative to their peers.  Consider healthcare solutions that provide managers with performance report cards for all registrars, and start an incentive program that rewards those with the top scores.  Often the motivation behind incentives has more to do with being acknowledged for hard work and with the healthy sense of competition they create, than with the actual reward received.

When employees are engaged, their positive attitudes and strong work ethic can have a favorable influence on patient satisfaction.  But if employees are not engaged, they may begin to explore other options for employment.  And remember, patients also have options when it comes to where they obtain care.  Implementing healthcare solutions like the ones mentioned above can help you increase both employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction, improving your retention rates for both groups.

By Stephanie Salmich