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Creating a Company Culture of Self-Care 

Nobody enjoys being pushed to their breaking point, but in 2022, as many healthcare organizations struggle to catch up with projects put on the backburner during the height of the pandemic, address staffing changes as seasoned staff leave their positions and are replaced with greener employees, and face a greater need for their services than ever before, burnout has become the word of the day. Creating a company culture of self-care can help prevent burnout, but it’s really about something bigger. A company culture of self-care lives beyond the next few months and reaches past the pandemic recovery years, well into the future of your healthcare center, protecting your hardworking team now and attracting top talent later.  

So, what exactly is a company culture of self-care, and how do we create it in the healthcare space? Let’s dive in! 

Company Culture 

Company culture is defined as “how you do what you do in the workplace.” Indeed describes it as the personality of a company. And outlines the different elements that make up a company’s culture as: 

  • Human nature – What qualities do people in your organization possess? Are they kind? Ambitious? Proactive or reactive?  
  • Emotions – What emotions are employees encouraged to express and which ones are discouraged or seen as not fit for the workplace? 
  • Effectiveness – How does your organization measure success? 

Clearly, company culture is multifaceted, develops over time, and there are many different factors to consider as your grow and shape your organization’s culture. But bringing self-care in as a wing of your company culture can have long-lasting benefits on your team. 

Well-being in the Workplace 

Many workplaces have what are known as “Wellness Programs” – we’ve all probably received those free pedometers to wear around the office, competing for steps to win a coveted coffee shop gift card. But in 2022, these wellness programs are taking on new life. A survey conducted by Fidelty and the Business Group on Health found that 83% of employers surveyed would be making employee well-being a critical focus in 2022. They planned to build these programs around mental health, physical health, and work-life balance efforts.  

Healthcare Workers and a Culture of Self-Care 

Healthcare workers have entered a field dedicated to taking care of others, and there are many healthcare workers that don’t feel they have the time, resources or energy to dedicate to taking care of themselves. Administrators are overworked and providers are overwhelmed. Creating a company culture of self-care will make it easier for your employees to care for themselves in the long-term, and when the company prioritizes its employees, they are able to do their jobs better. 

So, how do we do that for our healthcare teams? Each organization will be different but here are a few ideas to try with your team: 

  1. Invest in your employees 

Employee wellness programs can be a form of investing in your team. Doing the research and dedicating the time to craft a useful employee wellness program that fits the structure of your organization and motivates your team to take advantage of the resources available can create real change.  

In addition, offer programs that pay for certifications and continuing education. These make your employees feel valued and can help them get out of the office for a much-needed change of scenery while allowing them to work on something that makes them feel accomplished. Investing in your employee’s growth shows them you care about their future, teaches them investing in themselves is something your healthcare center celebrates, and will increase your employee retention. 

  1. Benefits matter 

Not every healthcare center has the budget for extravagant benefit packages but consider offering more than just a salary. Providing benefits in the form of stipends, bonuses, paid time off, or even a flexible work schedule can go a long way towards giving your employees the breaks they need and attracting more talent to your organization. Additionally, show your employees that these benefits are meant to be used. Some companies have amazing benefits that employees never use because their company culture implicitly discourages things like taking your vacation days off or calling in your flextime when you need a break. Encouraging your team to use their benefits shows them your company culture values self-care and the wellbeing of your people over the bottom line. 

  1. Lighten the load 

Being overworked is a huge factor contributing to healthcare staff burnout, so look for ways to lighten the load on your staff. If you have the budget to hire new employees and grow your team, move that to the top of your to-do list. Growing your team is a great way to boost morale and lighten the load on your current staff. 

If hiring isn’t an option right now, look at ways you can redistribute the workload. Are there certain tasks that leadership may be handling that could be passed down to a different employee? Can you offer administrative staff more variety in their tasks, giving them different areas to learn in?  

Another option is outsourcing tasks to free up time for your current employees. Many organizations worry that outsourcing may cost jobs by replacing their current employees. However, outsourcing is more about optimizing than replacing. By handing a process, such as your medical billing or revenue cycle management, off to experts, you are freeing up your current staff to focus on more pressing issues and increasing their bandwidth, along with maximizing your revenue. Many billing companies, like Practice Management, take their payments from a percentage of the revenue they collect for your healthcare center, so you’re at no risk of losing money. If you’re interested in learning more about our billing services, check out this page or contact us here. 

  1. Communicate 

Communicate with your team daily. Make this communication open, informal, and collaborative. Think of this like a pre-game huddle for your day and use the time to set your team goals, ask for concerns, check in with your team emotionally, and praise successes. Listen more than you talk. This type of communication shows your employees they matter, and they should feel free to express their needs to their leaders. Keeping these lines of communication open throughout the day will foster a company culture, or personality, that encourages teamwork and doesn’t shame employees for needing to care for themselves.  

  1. Talk about boundaries 

When an employee falls behind, they may feel like working longer hours is the solution, and some companies push that narrative on their teams. However, working overtime all the time usually has the opposite effect and decreases an employee’s productivity, rushing them towards burnout even faster. Discussing boundaries openly with your staff shows them saying no is okay, and that your healthcare center wants a team that takes care of themselves while taking care of others. Practical ways to encourage this kind of culture would be to encourage your employees to take their lunch breaks every day and to truly clock-out mentally when they’re off the clock. Make it clear that your expectations are not longer hours, but accomplishing what they can while maintaining boundaries.  

These five tips should help you look at the culture of your healthcare center and see ways you can move the needle towards a company culture of self-care. These tactics will not change everything overnight but putting in the work long-term will slowly but surely move your company culture in the right direction, protecting your staff now and making your healthcare center the kind of place attracts top talent in the future.  

The Modern Patient – How to Navigate Patient Experience in a Digital World 

The world we live in today is a digital space. Increasingly more of our daily tasks can be completed from the comfort of our couch through the screens of our smartphones, from grocery shopping to job applications to business meetings, and the healthcare space is no exception. As a healthcare provider, how can you navigate patient communication in a digital world? What effect does digital access have on patient payments and your revenue cycle management? This month, we’re diving into these topics and offering ideas on keeping up with the latest tech best practices at your healthcare center. 

Your Patients are your Customers 

The world of retail and customer service prioritizes experience to ensure that their customers return for their product or service again and again and that repeat purchases are easy to make. These business owners think through every step of their client experience and constantly update their products and portals to maintain a seamless and positive experience for their paying customers. As healthcare providers, thinking of your patients as customers can help you understand all the barriers they might face when it comes to obtaining their healthcare or completing their payments.  

Conceptualizing a visit to your healthcare center from the point of view of a paying customer AND a patient can lead towards a more positive experience for the individuals and families you care for and can increase your revenue by making patient payments easier to complete. Check out our guide on making patient payments easier, written by Practice Management President John Zulaski. 

Telehealth is Here to Stay 

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became the primary way individuals received routine healthcare, particularly behavioral health services, and while request for telehealth services has declined as the pandemic waxes and wanes, there are still many patients that prefer a virtual option. And it works! A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that telehealth interventions reduced mortality and hospital admissions in chronic conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory disease.  

Integrating a hybrid approach to your practice, especially if you provide mental health services, lowers your overhead, reduces no-shows, and provides much-desired flexibility to your patients. However, collecting patient payment can feel tricky with telehealth services, so be sure you provide your patients with an easy way to pay online. 

Online Portals are the New Patient Experience Standard 

Buying things online is no longer considered a luxury convenience, but a standard option for all services. Providing your patients with an easy way to pay bills, update their information, and schedule appointments online increases your collection volume and reduces your administrative overhead. Check out one of the portal options we implement with some of our clients here. 

Patients want Payment Options – Staff Education is the Key 

According to a research report sponsored by Synchrony, 45% of all U.S. adult patients surveyed would be interested in using some kind of payment plan in the future. 

There are multiple options for patient payment plans, from companies like CareCredit to in-house payment plans, but ensuring that every staff member understands the options available to patients is vital. All staff, from physicians to administrators, need to be able to offer patients an explanation of their options up front, depending on who a patient interacts with before, during or after receiving their treatment. Doing this will help patients feel informed and less anxious about their medical costs. It can also improve your collection rate as a healthcare center by enabling patients to set up these payment plans early and begin making payments immediately. 

If you are interested in learning how revenue cycle management with Practice Management not only maximizes your revenue, but also provides a top-notch patient experience, contact us here! We would love to discuss your unique needs with you and build a plan that fits your organization. 

Top Tips to Boost your Productivity and Protect your Wellbeing! 

Medical billing work requires intense attention to detail, diligence, and a passion for helping our clients grow to their maximum potential. The clients we work with also need to stay productive, working hard to keep their communities healthy! 

Healthcare workers, both direct care workers and administrators like our billing team, all have long to-do lists and packed work weeks, but self-care and personal wellbeing cannot be ignored. Culturally, our workforce is obsessed with productivity, but here at Practice Management, we focus on productivity without burnout. This month, we wanted to share some of our favorite, and surprising, ways to make sure you and your team stay productive while also taking care of yourself. 

1. Can this meeting be an email? 

The trope of “this meeting could have been an email” has been repeatedly memed and joked about in the last few years, and we agree! Meetings are an important part of professional teamwork, but when used incorrectly, they can stifle productivity. One survey found that 67% of workers feel spending too much time in meetings keeps them from making an impact in their workplace. Having less meetings and more one-on-one collaborative conversations can not only boost productivity, but also save valuable time for your team. 

2. Take short, frequent breaks 

When facing deadlines, our first instinct might be to skip our breaks and work through lunch. But research suggests that 90 is the magic number – working for 90 minutes before taking a short 15–20-minute break helped people focus and keep their energy up. Another survey found that 52 minutes before a break produced the best results in the top 10% most productive workers. Either way – do not skip that break! 

3. Delegate and collaborate! 

Our employee team is just that – a team, designed to work together. If you are overwhelmed with too much on your plate, turn to a teammate and delegate. For this to work, teams need to have transparency about their workloads and trust their colleagues. Leaders can set an example by both delegating their own tasks as needed and offering to complete tasks for their employees when they are able. Fostering a community of teamwork and collaboration can empower your workforce to speak up when they need help, and delegating can increase the productivity of your entire team. 

4. Automate where you can 

Many tasks need to be completed by an employee. They require human attention to ensure they are completed correctly. However, if you find yourself repeating one or two simple tasks over and over throughout your work week, automation may help boost your productivity. Identifying the tasks that can be automated effectively ticks items off your to-do list and clears your mind so you can focus on tasks that require your specific expertise. 

5. Build your day around your internal rhythms and use time blocks 

While we may all share common workday hours, we are each unique when it comes to productivity during those hours. If you are familiar with the concept of Night Owls versus Early Birds, you probably are not surprised to learn that each of us have our own unique circadian rhythms. Identify the time of day when you personally are at your most productive, and structure your day around that. For example, if you are a morning person and really get going from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., block out that time for some of your more demanding or creative tasks and leave a chunk of your afternoon for slogging through emails or sitting in meetings you are not leading. Understanding and hacking into your own brain’s rhythms can help you maximize your motivation and accomplish more in the same amount of time.  

Something else we love to use is time blocks. This refers to blocking out chunks of your calendar based on specific tasks. Knowing that you have blocked out an hour at the end of the day for emails helps you silence your alerts during the morning while you tackle that big project you are working on. Separating your day by projects and tasks also helps provide structure, which we love! 

6. Chew gum 

Keep chewing gum at your desk and dip into your stash when you need some extra focus. Chewing gum has been found to speed up your reaction time, boost cognitive abilities and help you stay alert. 

7. Meditate 

Meditation has become a hot topic in the workplace wellness space recently, and there are a host of benefits associated with meditation and increased productivity. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, calm the mind, and enhance creativity. Meditating does not need to be time consuming or difficult. Try a simple breathing exercise or search for a short, guided meditation on YouTube to gain some benefits during your workday. 

8. Build a list, then do the hardest thing first 

A good to-do list can work wonders for productivity! Whether you prefer pen and paper or a more technological approach, there is a solution out there that will work for you. Regardless of how you build your list, experts say you should tackle the hardest task first. Getting the least appealing task off your list first will help you stay motivated through your less energetic afternoon hours because the hardest thing is already done! 

9. Set boundaries 

Boundaries are of great benefit to mental health. Setting boundaries on your time and communicating them with your team can help you stay focused on projects you need to accomplish and boost your productivity at work. If there are certain hours you need to block out for a project or certain hours you would like to make yourself available for questions and collaboration, block those out on your calendar and let your team know. This will help cut down on unnecessary distractions, which research shows can take 23 minutes to recover from. 

10. Sleep! 

While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best way to get more work done is to stop working. One study of 4,188 U.S. workers found “significantly worse productivity, performance and safety outcomes.” All-nighters are often praised as a sign of dedication and hard work, but next time you face a looming all-nighter, it might just be that the best thing you could do is to go home, get a good night of sleep, and come back refreshed and ready to go in the morning. 

Which of these productivity tips do you use? Which ones are new to you? 

Share this article with your coworkers and let us know what tips your employee team will implement.

If you’re thinking about implementing tip #3 and want to know how delegating your billing to Practice Management  would benefit your healthcare organization, check out our Revenue Cycle Management services here or send us an email here.

Cybersecurity: How to Protect your Digital PHI 

We live in an increasingly digital world. Instead of picking up the phone, we type out a text. Instead of storing paper copies, we digitize PDFs. Instead of photo albums, we have Instagram feeds. 

The healthcare space is no exception. 

With the rise in popularity of online patient portals, telehealth, and EMR/EHR software, PHI has become increasingly digital (this electronic PHI is also referred to as ePHI – Electronic Protected Health Information). Digitizing comes with a lot of benefits, including making record keeping easier on staff and increasing patient payments by providing online payment portals, but it also puts information at risk of cyberattack and requires up-to-date cybersecurity measures to keep patient information safe. 

Why does security matter? 

In addition to protecting the privacy of your patients, proper cyber security also protects your healthcare organization. Recovering from a cyberattack takes time, and often means shutting down your practice for weeks while the attack is investigated. In addition, the reputational damage your practice can suffer after a cyberattack is immense. 

How can you protect your ePHI? 

Here are some of our favorite tips for protecting your digital PHI. 

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication 

Also known as Two-Factor Authentication, this cybersecurity measure is becoming increasingly popular, and is now required by many websites, email platforms, software and more. Two-Factor Authentication links your accounts to either an email address, cell number, or standalone app. When a login is attempted, accounts with MFA enabled will require not only a password, but also confirmation through one of these other channels. This means that even if your username and password are compromised, you can block a login attempt through one of these confirmation methods. 

  1. Data Loss Detection 

Data loss can occur accidentally or maliciously and involves an employee sharing confidential information with unauthorized individuals or sites. Data loss detection security measures utilize software to log employee computer activity and send alerts when security threats or productivity issues are identified. Data loss detection also helps ensure that employees do not send confidential information outside of their work networks accidentally.  

  1. Cybersecurity Awareness Training 

Make sure your employees understand what the risks are and how to avoid them. Regularly training your employees to recognize phishing emails, unsafe websites, and the latest cyber threats can protect your entire organization.  

  1. Strong, Unique Passwords 

This is one of the simplest tips, but also one that feels very daunting. How many of us use the same password for all our online accounts because we cannot remember a unique password for every account we have? Or if we do create a unique password, how many of us write it on a sticky note and keep it taped to our monitor? 

Creating strong, unique passwords, particularly for accounts used to access ePHI, is vital and can go a long way towards protecting your digital data. Best practices suggest using a different password for each online account you use, with each password containing 14 characters made up of numbers, letters, and special characters. 

Password management tools might be a great fit for your healthcare organization. These tools work on a monthly subscription basis and will automatically generate unique passwords for your online accounts and store them for you. They also allow employers to terminate access across all websites for a specific employee if they are terminated.  Check out an article from the HIPAA Journal on password management apps here.

  1. Penetration Testing 

Penetration testing attempts to defeat security threats and identify if unauthorized access of malicious activity is possible. Essentially, this is a hack attempt conducted by a third party aimed at identifying any potential weaknesses in your current cybersecurity setup. As the penetration tester moves through your system, they try to identify weaknesses and compromise your system’s security. Once they have found any potential vulnerabilities, they can then go into your security system and address any issues they discovered during their test. 

Practice Management understands how important security is to our clients. As a billing company, we work with our client’s ePHI daily, and we are devoted to not just maximizing their revenue, but to doing it safely and securely. 

If you are interested in learning more about our security measures, or getting a quote for billing services, contact us here! 

Top 3 Reasons to Outsource your Medical Billing

When a health center or group practice decides to outsource their medical billing, they move their billing from something they do in-house with their own staff, to something handled by a third-party company. Making this shift may feel like a risk, but it actually provides a host of benefits to your health center, whether you’re an FQHC, CHC, group practice, or specialist.  

So, why do so many healthcare organizations decide to outsource their medical billing? 

You’re facing staffing changes 

Medical billing is time-consuming for your staff, and as we see the globe navigating staffing challenges across nearly all areas of healthcare, you may find yourself facing these same challenges within your own practice. Losing a dedicated biller from your staff could leave your practice without the ability to complete your billing in a timely manner. 

Or, your health center could be adding staff, which comes with its own growing pains. Bringing on a new physician or specialist could open up new areas of billing that your current billing department isn’t familiar with, or it could lead to an overwhelming amount of work and, ultimately, burnout. 

Outsourcing your medical billing can help address these challenges and protect your staff. 

You could be leaving lots of money on the table 

Medical billing companies are experts in what they do. Their teams understand all the moving parts of insurance billing and its major and minor complexities. Staying on top of the latest billing standards is what they do, which means they know how to get you the revenue you deserve, and your staff won’t have to spend valuable hours researching the latest rules and regulations.  

Poor revenue cycle management can contribute to massive loss of income. 

According to a 2018 study, more than three-quarters of hospitals surveyed said denials are the biggest challenge within their RCM, and some other studies suggest that over a third of practices face bad debts over $10 million. Working with a revenue cycle management company means you will have eyes on your revenue cycle regularly, and they will work to optimize your procedures and follow up on claims thoroughly, ensuring you collect more of the money you are owed. 

You’re ready to grow your practice 

One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing your billing is increasing your revenue. With more revenue, you are able to grow your practice. Outsourcing your billing means your team will have more time to focus on their everyday tasks, and get traction on their projects. You will have the financial freedom to hire more physicians, onboard stellar administrators, invest in new technologies, and grow your client base at a rate that is sustainable and built around providing the best care possible instead of trying to bring in more patients to make up for revenue shortages.  

This type of growth is sustainable, helps avoid staff burnout, and helps you focus on the important work of keeping your community healthy. 

If you are ready to outsource your billing to a trusted revenue cycle management company, consider Practice Management. We have been focused on maximizing revenue for our clients since 1995 and we would love to discuss your unique needs with you and build a plan that fits your organization. Contact us here to learn more!

Hire and Keep Great Healthcare Workers

When healthcare workers leave their positions, it can often lead to a domino effect of coworkers following suit. Healthcare professionals may also become burnt out and frustrated with their office, or the healthcare system as a whole. It is important that healthcare employers find more creative ways to retain healthcare employees and a better process for hiring new ones as needed. That means healthcare employers must offer work that is both rewarding and meaningful to workers, as well as continue to offer employees opportunities for career advancement.

But most importantly, you want to hire the right people for the job. Here are a few tips in helping you make the right hiring decisions.

  • Think about healthcare professionals you already have on staff. Who are the most prolific performers? What skills do these workers have in common? Finding successful commonalities can greatly assist in your hiring process. And save you money.
  • Invest in the hiring process. Spending money now may save you down the road. Not only in your hard-earned revenue but also with work.
  • Do not ignore employee referrals. A lot of healthcare professionals who refer their healthcare colleagues can also provide first-hand insight into how well those healthcare professionals will fit within the company’s culture and if they are the right candidate to remain in their position long term.
  • Offer more than just a salary. Stipends, bonuses, healthcare benefits, flexible work schedules – these perks won’t only attract higher quality workers but also will entice them to stay.
  • Invest in your employees. Offering programs that pay for certifications and continued education will make your employees feel appreciated. Help provide them a way forward to a better career. It will do wonders for retention and your reputation as an employer.

Finally, consider outsourcing some of your tasks so you can focus more on the hiring process. Don’t bog yourself down with the mundane, or with activities, you lack the expertise in performing at an optimal level. Contact us to learn how we can help free up your time so you can work on vital tasks like hiring and maintaining an engaged workforce. Everyone wins.

Is your staff cybersecurity trained?

With medical cybersecurity threats on the rise, it’s vital you train all of your employees on security protocols.

Improve Your Health Center with Better Communication

Communication is crucial in any profession, but its importance magnifies in the medical field. Without open and free lines of communication between doctors and patients, doctors and staff, and between doctors themselves, health care delivery hampers dramatically. Do you feel as if you need some work in this area? You’ve decided to research the topic, so you have part of the equation solved. Now let’s investigate ways you can become a more effective communicator in your health center.  

Become a better listener

Listening seems like a simple enough concept in theory, but in practice, it can be elusive. When your mind is racing through different scenarios preparing your word choice, often you forget to listen. How can you avoid making this communication misstep? Understand you are building trust with your patient. If they feel as if they are being ignored, trust cannot be established. Acknowledge their words with proper responses and follow up with pertinent questions. Actually, show you care not just in your words but by your actions as well.

Watch your body language

Communicating goes beyond words alone. Your body language also tells a story. A story that either reveals you are actively listening or just playing the part. According to smarp, an amazing 55% of communication is body language. So, the importance of this practice cannot be overstated. But what can you do to improve this crucial part of communication?  Be aware of your tone, posture, and other body movements while you converse. Also, maintain eye contact and monitor your facial expressions. Looking away or scowling does not convey interest. Remain open, friendly, and responsive. Finally, stay away from postures that express a closed attitude. These include crossing your arms, angling your body toward an exit, and focusing your eyes down or away from your conversation partner.

Express empathy

Obviously in the medical field much of your communication centers around health issues. A topic your profession deals with daily. However, a patient is not familiar with partaking in conversations regarding such impactful information. While listening, and talking, keep an attitude of empathy throughout your conversation. This naturally expresses through your word choice, body language, and facial expressions. The right mindset will assist you greatly in maintaining the right communication method.

Working in the medical profession involves many difficult choices and the use of myriad life-saving tools. While these are important aspects, remember, communication is also just as vital.

5 Ways to Improve your Health Center

Even if your health center is running like a well-oiled machine, there are still areas you most likely can improve. The smallest changes can add up to become impactful forward movements, transforming your health center from good to downright great. But where do you start? First, take an honest look at your operations and see where you can make minor tweaks. Next, if those minor tweaks are not enough, commit to making the necessary major changes. And no worries, we’ve done some of the work for you by listing five areas you can start improving right now.

Improve patient access

Your patients’ time is precious, so keep that in mind when considering options like telemedicine. Giving your customers, your patients, an easier way to access your expertise is not only a win for them but a win for you as well.

Add a splash of color to your waiting room.

The smallest details can really make a difference. Beautifying your waiting room can improve employee and patient morale. In addition to refining your health center’s overall aesthetic.

Ensure your staff is properly trained

Considering your staff will be dealing with people battling myriad illnesses, it makes sense your workers should be well trained and always friendly. Professional, courteous staff can instill confidence in patients and create an overall more positive atmosphere.

Set goals

Goal setting is vital when you want solid improvement. One thing to keep in mind when crafting goals, make them measurable. Sure, you can have qualitative goals as well, but an entire set of unmeasurable goals makes it nearly impossible to track progress.

Optimize revenue

The goalposts are always moving when it comes to the rules and regulations regarding health centers. That’s why optimizing revenue can be a challenge. Try enlisting the help of experts who can make your revenue goals a real possibility.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways you can improve your health center. Take a moment to sit down and think about the areas you want to shore up. You’ll thank yourself later.

Heathcare: A Target for Hackers

According to Beazley, attacks on healthcare account for 41% of total incidents that occurred in 2018. What does this mean? You need to make cybersecurity a top priority for your healthcare operation.

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