Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) play a crucial role in providing affordable and accessible healthcare services to underserved communities. To further expand their reach and improve healthcare accessibility, many FQHCs are exploring the option of adding a mobile healthcare unit to their repertoire of services. If you and your team are considering tackling this new service at your FQHC, it’s important to weight the pros and cons before you jump in. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and challenges of incorporating a mobile healthcare unit into your FQHC, and how finding a quality billing partner can streamline operations and maximize efficiency.
Benefits of Adding a Mobile Healthcare Unit
1. Increased Accessibility
One of the primary advantages of mobile healthcare units is their ability to reach patients in remote or underserved areas, which accounts for a lot of FQHC service areas. These units can travel to communities that lack access to traditional healthcare facilities, ensuring that individuals receive vital medical services without the need for lengthy travel.
2. Improved Community Engagement
Mobile healthcare units are powerful tools for community engagement. They allow FQHCs to establish a strong presence in the communities they serve, building trust and rapport with patients who begin to forge a connection with your staff and recognize your name. This increased engagement can lead to better health outcomes as patients are more likely to seek regular medical care.
3. Flexible Service Delivery
Mobile healthcare units can offer a wide range of services, from primary care and preventive screenings to vaccinations and chronic disease management. This flexibility enables FQHCs to tailor their services to the specific healthcare needs of each community they serve, and bring those vital services directly to the populations that need them.
4. Cost-Effective Expansion
Compared to constructing new healthcare facilities, mobile units are a cost-effective way to expand FQHC services. They require less initial investment and can quickly adapt to changing community needs by relocating to different areas as required.
5. Enhanced Disaster Response
Mobile healthcare units are invaluable during natural disasters or public health emergencies. They can provide immediate medical care and support to affected populations, helping communities recover more quickly.
Challenges of Adding a Mobile Healthcare Unit
1. Regulatory Compliance
Operating a mobile healthcare unit can involve navigating complex regulatory requirements, including state licensing and certification. FQHCs must ensure that they meet all necessary legal and regulatory standards to provide safe and effective care.
2. Staffing and Training
Finding and retaining qualified healthcare professionals to staff the mobile unit can be challenging. Comprehensive training programs and ongoing support are essential to ensure the highest level of care, and since mobile units provide such a wide range of services, this adds an extra layer of complexity to staff training.
3. Equipment and Maintenance
Mobile healthcare units require specialized medical equipment that must be maintained and updated regularly to ensure safety and effectiveness. The cost of equipment and maintenance can be a significant challenge for FQHCs. In this way, the hugely beneficial flexibility of mobile healthcare units contributes to one of its biggest challenges.
4. Resource Allocation
Managing resources effectively between the main FQHC facility and the mobile unit can be a logistical challenge. FQHCs must carefully allocate staff, equipment, and supplies to ensure both locations can operate smoothly, and this can add stress on management, especially in the start-up phase of a mobile healthcare unit.
Outsourcing Billing for Mobile Healthcare Units
Outsourcing billing can be an effective strategy for FQHCs operating mobile healthcare units. While this isn’t the right fit for every FQHC, outsourcing with a company that understands your values and unique needs can make a big difference and help alleviate many of the challenges that come with adding mobile healthcare to your programs and services. Our team works primarily with FQHCs, and we have seen the impact that outsourcing has had on our clients providing mobile healthcare.
- Focus on Core Services: By outsourcing billing, you can allocate more time and resources to your primary mission of keeping your community healthy, rather than getting bogged down in administrative tasks. Especially when your team is taking on a new challenge with so many layers, like a mobile healthcare unit, this extra time allows for a better implementation of this new service from the jump.
- Increased Accuracy and More Revenue: Professional billing companies specialize in healthcare billing and coding, reducing the risk of errors and claim denials. This can lead to faster reimbursement and improved cash flow. This makes it very important to understand the experience of the company you’re considering as your billing partner. Make sure any company you’re outsourcing to understands the intricacies of FQHC/CHC billing specifically, and of mobile healthcare billing for those types of organizations. Drawing on the expertise of a deep bench of RCM employees is a huge advantage, but only if they understand your mission and your needs.
- Cost Savings: Outsourcing billing can be cost-effective when compared to hiring and training in-house billing staff. It eliminates the need for costly software and ongoing training expenses. For example, Practice Management remotes into your current EHR, and provides custom reporting for you and your team, which means no expensive new software and no time-consuming training. Finding a company that can work withing your current system is very important when trying to maximize cost savings while outsourcing.
- Regulatory Compliance: Billing companies stay up-to-date with changing healthcare regulations, ensuring that your FQHC remains compliant with billing and coding requirements.
- Scalability: Billing services can scale with the growth of your FQHC, making it easier to adapt to changes in service volume or expansion of mobile healthcare units. This means you can take full advantage of one of the biggest benefits of adding a mobile healthcare unit: quick and effective expansion!
Adding a mobile healthcare unit to your FQHC can bring numerous benefits, including increased accessibility, community engagement, and cost-effective expansion. However, it also comes with challenges related to regulatory compliance, staffing, and resource allocation. Ultimately, the decision to incorporate a mobile healthcare unit should be carefully considered in light of these benefits and challenges, as well as the unique needs of the communities you are serving. Taking time to assess the current strengths and weaknesses of your team, and diligently planning for the addition of these units to your programs and services means you can maximize the benefits and effectively address the challenges!
CFOs play a pivotal role in ensuring the financial health and sustainability of their organizations, especially at FQHCs, which are mission driven and rely on stellar financial professionals (and other hardworking team members) to keep their programs running. To thrive in today’s healthcare landscape, CFOs need to do more than examine month-end financial reports. They must embrace a forward-facing culture that emphasizes adaptability, innovation, and strategic planning. This month, we’re exploring strategies for CFOs of FQHCs to cultivate a forward-facing culture within their financial departments, creating a ripple effect throughout their organizations.
Understanding the Need for a Forward-Facing Culture
A forward-facing culture is one that anticipates and prepares for future challenges and opportunities. In the context of FQHCs, it’s vital because:
- Healthcare is Evolving: The healthcare industry is constantly changing, driven by technological advancements, regulatory updates, and shifting patient demographics. CFOs must be proactive in responding to these changes.
- Financial Sustainability: FQHCs face unique financial pressures, serving vulnerable populations with diverse healthcare needs. A forward-facing culture helps CFOs secure funding, diversify revenue streams, and optimize financial resources.
- Community Impact: FQHCs have a profound impact on the communities they serve. By looking ahead, CFOs can ensure the long-term availability of essential healthcare services.
Strategies to Cultivate a Forward-Facing Culture
So, we know it’s important. But, how exactly do you do it? Check out our tips below.
- Strategic Planning: CFOs should lead the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that aligns financial objectives with the organization’s mission and vision. This plan should outline key goals, performance indicators, and actionable steps for the future.
- Data-Driven Decision-Making: Invest in data analytics tools to gather insights into financial trends, patient demographics, and operational efficiencies. This data can inform strategic decisions and identify areas for improvement.
- Risk Management: A forward-facing culture acknowledges and mitigates risks. CFOs should conduct regular risk assessments, including financial, operational, and compliance risks, and develop strategies to address them.
- Technology Adoption: Embrace technology to streamline financial processes, enhance data security, and improve patient care. This might include implementing electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth solutions, and financial software.
- Continuous Learning: Stay informed about industry trends, regulatory changes, and best practices. Encourage professional development among finance team members to ensure they remain up-to-date. Most FQHCs should have more than one financial professional on their staff, enabling both to grow as professionals and cover different areas of financial expertise.
- Collaboration: Foster collaboration between financial departments and other key stakeholders within the FQHC, such as clinical teams and community outreach. Cross-functional collaboration can lead to innovative solutions, and the importance of this cannot be overstated. CFOs can create amazing impact when they open up to communication with other department heads and create organizational understanding of the marriage between finances and programming results.
- Scenario Planning: CFOs should create scenarios for different future scenarios, including changes in funding, shifts in patient demographics, and healthcare policy changes. This allows for more effective contingency planning. A great example of this would be considering whether or not to outsource your revenue cycle management. A forward-facing CFO would consider the pros, potential risks, and build out scenarios based on the proposals received from outsourcing companies, and be able to offer informed suggestions for growth to their fellow executive team members.
- Patient-Centric Focus: Understand the unique needs of the patient population and explore ways to improve patient access, experience, and outcomes through financial strategies.
- Community Engagement: Engage with the local community to better understand their healthcare needs and foster goodwill. This can also help identify potential partnerships and funding opportunities, as well as identify new programming needs that will require financial planning.
- Performance Measurement: Establish a system for tracking and reporting financial and operational performance. Regularly assess progress toward strategic goals and make adjustments as needed. This shifts focus from just analyzing past performance to projecting and planning for future performance.
Creating a forward-facing culture for CFOs of FQHCs is not just about preparing for the future – it’s about actively shaping it. By embracing strategic planning, data-driven decision-making, collaboration, and innovation, CFOs can lead their organizations toward long-term financial sustainability while fulfilling their mission to provide essential healthcare services to underserved communities. This makes sure to not only secure the future of your FQHC but also ensure the well-being of the communities you serve.
In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, FQHCs face numerous challenges in maintaining financial stability and optimizing revenue cycle management. As billing and reimbursement processes get more complex, many healthcare organizations are turning to outsourcing companies for their billing. But does your FQHC need to outsource your billing? Will outsourcing create more headaches than it solves?
Billing services can bring some big benefits to the table. Let’s talk about some of those and examine when billing and revenue cycle management might be right for your healthcare organization.
1. Expertise and Compliance
Navigating the complex landscape of healthcare billing and coding requires specialized knowledge and continuous training, and finding staff that has that experience can be time consuming, or even impossible, depending on where your FQHC is located. Outsourcing your billing ensures access to a team of experts well-versed in the intricacies of FQHC billing regulations and compliance requirements. Their expertise enables accurate coding, reduces claim denials, and minimizes the risk of regulatory penalties, ultimately maximizing revenue for your organization, and saving you the time and money required to find your own experts to bring onto your staff.
2. Improved Revenue Cycle Management:
Efficient revenue cycle management is essential for FQHCs to maintain financial stability. Outsourcing this process allows CFOs to leverage proven strategies and technology-driven solutions provided by a stellar billing company. The best outsourcing partners will look at your entire revenue cycle process, not just individual claims. A comprehensive approach like this should include eligibility verification, accurate coding, claim submission, denial management, and timely follow-ups. Here at Practice Management, we offer all these services to our clients, and provide training as needed to help implement best practices and procedures that help organizations reach their unique goals. By streamlining the entire revenue cycle process, an outsourcing partner can accelerate payment cycles, reduce accounts receivable days, and improve cash flow.
3. Scalability and Flexibility:
FQHCs often experience fluctuations in patient volume, making it challenging to maintain an optimal administrative workforce. Outsourcing medical billing and revenue cycle management provides CFOs with the scalability and flexibility needed to adapt to changing demands, meaning that you’ll always have billing solutions tailored to the specific needs and volume of your organization at all stages of your growth. Having the right resources at the right time means more money available to reinvest in your programs and services.
4. Cost Savings:
Maintaining an in-house billing department comes with significant costs, including salaries, training, software, and ongoing maintenance expenses. But outsourcing can significantly reduce overhead costs, allowing you to reallocate your precious resources to core patient care services, while actually bringing in more revenue. The reduction in claim denials, faster reimbursement, and improved revenue capture contribute to substantial financial savings and increased profitability. Here’s an example of how outsourcing could affect your bottom line:
5. Advanced Technology and Reporting:
Finding a good outsourcing company means you’ll be working with a team that leverages cutting-edge technology to streamline billing processes and enhance transparency. Practice Management creates custom reports to fit our clients’ needs and improve their understanding of trends and opportunities in their revenue cycle. A good outsourcing company can provide real-time insights into key performance metrics, such as claim status, reimbursement trends, and financial performance. These kinds of analytics can help leadership make decisions for the growth of your FQHC and identify areas for improvement.
Outsourcing medical billing is not a fit for every FQHC, but if you’re looking for a way to improve your revenue collection, decrease your costs, leverage expertise, and grow your vital programs, outsourcing could be the answer! Finding a partner that believes in your mission, cares about your community, and meshes well with your team is incredibly important, and a good billing company can help your FQHC navigate the complexities of healthcare reimbursement with confidence. Embracing the power of outsourcing can streamline your revenue cycle and position your FQHC for long-term success.
In the fast-paced and demanding world of healthcare, having a skilled and efficient team is crucial for the smooth functioning of any organization. You need a team you can trust on all fronts – direct care and administrative. Administrative staff are the backbone of healthcare facilities, ensuring that operations run seamlessly, patient records are managed effectively, and communication flows smoothly. However, finding the right candidates with the necessary skills and qualities can be challenging. To help healthcare organizations build their dream administrative team, we’ve compiled a list of interview tips that will help you find the best candidates for these vital roles.
1. Define the Role Clearly: Attract the right candidates
Before beginning the interview process, it is essential to clearly define the role and responsibilities of the administrative staff. Outline the key tasks and skills required for the position, including organizational abilities, communication skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in relevant software applications. Having a precise job description will help you attract candidates who possess the specific qualities needed for success in the role and save you time during tip number two.
2. Screen Resumes Thoroughly: First impressions matter
Carefully review the resumes and cover letters submitted by candidates. Look for relevant experience, educational qualifications, and certifications that align with the position’s requirements. Pay attention to details such as tenure in previous roles, achievements, and any notable skills or accomplishments. Prioritize candidates who have demonstrated reliability, adaptability, and a strong work ethic.
But looking beyond the content of the resume is important as well. Is the resume well formatted? Is the layout and font choice professional? Are there typos? Did they follow the application instructions correctly? If there was a cover letter submitted, was it tailored to your healthcare organization and well written, or was it generic and sloppy? Paying attention to these details before you bring candidates in for interviews can help you weed out candidates who are not a good fit early on in the process.
3. Conduct Structured Interviews: Prep your questions and be ready to listen
When interviewing candidates, follow a structured interview process to ensure consistency and fairness. Begin by putting the candidate at ease. A few conversational questions in the beginning of an interview will help them feel comfortable and encourage them to express themselves freely before you really dig into the interview. Next, try asking behavioral questions that assess their past experiences and problem-solving abilities. For administrative roles, questions may revolve around multitasking, handling difficult situations, and managing time effectively. Assess their communication skills, including both verbal and written, as clear and concise communication is vital in healthcare settings.
Be prepared to follow the 80/20 interview rule – you should only be talking 20% of the time.
4. Evaluate Interpersonal Skills: Be polite, professional, and observant
Interpersonal skills are crucial for administrative staff who interact with patients, medical professionals, and other team members regularly. Assess a candidate’s ability to handle diverse personalities, work collaboratively, and maintain professionalism even under pressure. Role-playing scenarios or situational questions can provide insights into how candidates handle conflicts, prioritize tasks, and maintain a calm demeanor.
While you want to get a feeling for the candidate’s personality, you also want to remain polite and professional, not overly friendly or casual. Assessing is different than chatting, and you want to make sure you’re sticking to interview questions rather than just having a conversation.
5. Assess Technological Proficiency: Tech literacy matters
In today’s digital age, technological literacy is a must for administrative staff. Evaluate candidates’ proficiency in the software applications your organization uses, your electronic medical record system, and any data management tools they will be interacting with regularly. Depending on the specific needs of your organization, assess their ability to adapt to new technologies and their overall tech-savviness, which can enhance efficiency and streamline operations as your organization grows.
6. Gauge Attention to Detail: Details matter
Attention to detail is a crucial quality for your administrative staff. Assess a candidate’s ability to spot errors, manage paperwork accurately, and follow established protocols. Depending on the length of your hiring process, you might want to incorporate an assessment or task that requires candidates to review and identify discrepancies in a document or medical records, ensuring their precision and meticulousness. This assessment could be part of the interview, or it could be part of the application process. You can also get a feel for this skill during step number two.
7. Cultural Fit and Professionalism: Know your company
Before you begin interviewing, make sure you have a firm understanding of what your company is, what your values are, what your mission is, and how your ideal employee would interact in their role. Does the person you’re interviewing fit into that company model? Would they align with your organization’s values, mission, and culture? Evaluate their level of professionalism, including punctuality, attire, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Healthcare environments require employees who can empathize with patients and their families, as well as maintain a compassionate and caring approach, and that level of caring is vital in administrators as well as direct care providers.
Building a dream team for your healthcare organization requires careful consideration, thorough evaluation, and a structured interview process. By defining the role, screening resumes, assessing interpersonal skills, technological literacy, attention to detail, and cultural fit, you can find the best candidates who will fit right into your healthcare organization. Hiring the right administrative staff not only contributes to efficiency but also enhances patient care and overall satisfaction. Invest time and effort into the hiring process, and you’ll be rewarded with a highly competent and cohesive administrative team that supports your healthcare organization’s success and works well together as your organization continues to grow.
Cybersecurity is a crucial aspect of healthcare as it ensures the protection of sensitive patient information from cyber-attacks. With the increasing use of technology in healthcare, such as electronic health records, telemedicine, and an increase in remote workers, the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks has also increased.
The consequences of a cyber-attack in healthcare can be devastating because it can compromise patient privacy, lead to identity theft, and disrupt the delivery of critical healthcare services. Moreover, healthcare organizations that fail to protect patient information can face legal and financial penalties. All these factors combined mean that understanding your healthcare organization’s cyber security is more important than ever!
Healthcare Cyber-Attacks: The Numbers
Healthcare organizations are highly targeted by hackers because electronic health records contain so much information. These records have patient health information, personally identifying information, and financial information all stored together.
A study covering cyber insecurity in healthcare found that 89% of healthcare organizations surveyed experienced at least one cyberattack in the past 12 months. These cyberattacks have been shown to correlate with a negative impact on client care as well.
Therefore, it is essential for healthcare organizations to prioritize cyber security.
Healthcare Cyber Security: How to do it
Healthcare organizations need to take steps to implement robust security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and regular security audits. If you’re in leadership, work on reframing cyber security from a technology issue to a risk-management issue within your organization and be willing to prioritize your security program.
Staffing can be a challenge in the IT space, and if your healthcare organization is struggling to recruit IT talent to invest in your security, consider outsourcing to a reputable IT company that can help you protect your PHI.
Additionally, all staff members should be trained to identify and prevent cyber threats. Different positions need different levels of training, but if you teach your whole team to view cyber security as a part of providing quality patient care, it empowers them to view themselves as “proactive defenders of patients and their data” and can help everyone on your team vigilantly keep their eyes open for potential cyber security issues and pay attention to security details.
Finally, ensure that any company you work with outside of our healthcare organization takes your cyber security seriously. Practice Management has multiple cyber security features in place – you can check them out here – and any company that has access to your PHI should be openly communicative and diligent with their dynamic security strategy.
In an increasingly digital world, cyber security matters in healthcare because it safeguards patient privacy and ensures the continuity of critical healthcare services. Healthcare organizations and professionals must take proactive steps to protect patient information from cyber-attacks to maintain the trust and confidence of patients.
To outsource or not to outsource – that is the daunting question facing many healthcare organizations. Outsourcing your billing can be a great way to save time, money, and resources, allowing you to reinvest in your practice. But there are many myths surrounding billing companies, the outsourcing process, and the types of healthcare organizations that can use outsourcing services. Today, we’re busting some of the most common myths and serving up facts about outsourcing your medical billing.
Myth 1: Outsourcing medical billing is expensive.
Fact: Outsourcing medical billing is cost-effective.
It can provide you with access to the latest technology and the experience of a team of professionals that are dedicated to your practice. Oftentimes, outsourcing is even more cost effective than employing your own billing staff. Employees at the medical billing companies are experts in their field and come with years of experience and training in billing intricacies. Finding employees to hire with their level of expertise is incredibly difficult and affording them can be even harder. Outsourcing gives you access to extremely skilled billing employees at an affordable rate. Plus, you’ll have access to resources that you wouldn’t have available if you handled billing in-house. The goal of a good outsourcing team is to maximize the money you are collecting, and improve your cashflow, not cost you more money.
Myth 2: Outsourcing medical billing is risky.
Fact: Outsourcing your medical billing is very secure.
Most medical billing companies have industry-standard data security measures in place, including encryption and firewalls. Plus, they have the experience and knowledge to handle any HIPAA compliance issues that may arise. Practice Management takes the security of our clients extremely seriously, employing multiple cyber-security measures including MFA, data loss detection, and penetration testing. A reputable outsourcing company should clearly outline their security processes and protocols.
Myth 3: Outsourcing medical billing will take too much of your time.
Fact: Outsourcing medical billing can save you time.
With the help of a medical billing company, you can streamline your billing process, set up automated payment reminders, and manage claims quickly and accurately. This can free up you and your staff to focus on other areas of your practice. The staff at revenue cycle management companies’ focus is billing, and not only does that make them experts at what they do (as we mentioned in #1) it also means they can work quicker and pay attention to important details as they submit claims and follow up on denials. Having a team dedicated just to billing means you are more likely to submit claims and appeals in a timely manner and follow up on patient payments quickly and regularly.
Myth 4: Outsourcing means less quality work.
Fact: Outsourcing provides quality work and a meaningful connection with your outsourcing team.
The right medical billing company should function as your billing department and focus on providing quality service for your healthcare organization. When you find the right partner, you are leveraging experts who can not only finish your tasks more efficiently but effectively as well. Revenue cycle management companies provide custom reports tailored to your unique needs to keep you in the loop on everything happening in your revenue cycle and ensure you feel informed and in control. Finding an outsourcing company that believes in the importance of connecting with their clients means you will have an outsourced team that feels loyalty to your organization. Getting support and answers to your questions should also be a quick and easy process.
Myth 5: Outsourcing is only for big practices and hospitals.
Fact: Outsourcing is for healthcare organizations of all sizes.
The idea that outsourcing is exclusive to large operations has persisted for decades and it’s fortunately not true. There are outsourcing solutions for medical practices and companies of all sizes. Outsourcing can work for any sized organization if you take the time to find a billing company that will work with you and customize a suite of services that fit your needs. Practice Management has experience working with clients ranging from small group practices with 3 providers at one location to large FQHCs and healthcare systems with over 100 providers spread across multiple locations. With a little research, you can definitely find an outsourcing company with experience working with an organization or practice just like yours.
Consider those outsourcing myths busted!
Outsourcing your medical billing could be the right decision for you and your team. There are many benefits, including increased revenue, efficiency, and quality. Taking the time to research the pros and cons and find a company that fits your needs could be the best decision for growing your practice!
If you’re interested in learning more about Practice Management’s suite of services and how they can maximize your revenue, contact us today!
Dry January seems like it’s everywhere right now! From social media challenges to local bars offering mocktails in honor of the month, Dry January is bigger than ever.
What is Dry January? Today we’re diving into this health trend and exploring the potential benefits of cutting down on booze for 31 days in a row.
What is Dry January
According to Alcohol Change, Dry January officially started as a public health initiative in 2013 with 4,000 people and has grown every year since. The concept is simple – take a break from drinking any alcohol for an entire month. Technically, this can be done anytime of the year, but January feels like a perfect time for many as it comes on the heels of heavy holiday indulgence and coincides with New Year’s Resolutions.
Why Try Dry?
Alcohol use has been up for the past 10 years, and the pandemic spiked those trends even higher. Not all alcohol use is detrimental, and moderate drinking has even correlated with some health benefits, but heavier drinking and long-term drinking can cause serious health problems. Heavy drinking is defined by the CDC as 8 drinks or more per week for women, and 15 drinks or more per week for men. Especially during the holiday season, you may find yourself hitting those numbers often, and taking a 31 day break can provide physical benefits as well as offering a chance to mentally reset and learn new emotional coping skills.
Chronic heavy drinking is linked to higher cancer risks, weak immune systems, memory issues and mood disorders. Lowering your alcohol consumption could provide you with some immediate benefits in the short term, and help your health improve in the long term if you are able to reset your drinking habits.
- Better sleep: Alcohol messes with the sleep/wake cycles in your brain, and drinking before bed, while it may make you feel sleepy initially, can interrupt your REM cycle, resulting in fitful sleep that doesn’t really allow your body to rest deeply. Cutting out alcohol will help you get good sleep, which means more energy and more time for your body to heal itself.
- Weight Loss: This isn’t a guarantee, as every body and metabolism is different, but alcohol packs a calorically dense punch, and cutting out those liquid calories could lead to a few pounds dropping off without much effort.
- Saving Money: While studies show that the average American household spends $579 annually on alcohol, the number could be much higher if you’re regularly going out for drinks. If you regularly enjoy just 2 drinks each day on Friday and Saturday at $10 each, that totals to over $2,000 annually, not including taxes and tips!
- Blood benefits: According to a study in BMJ Open, regular drinkers who cut out alcohol for one month lowered their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cancer-related proteins in their blood.
Tips for Success
Whether you’re nearing the end of your Dry January experiment, or you have decided you want to try a Dry February instead, we’ve got some tips to get you over the finish line!
- Find a substitute drink! For many, having a glass of wine or a cocktail is more a force of habit than anything else. Finding something that still feels like a ritual can help you stay dry. Try crafting your own mocktails at home, or even serving yourself your sparkling water in a wine glass.
- Keep alcohol out of the house. It will be easier to stick to your goals if your favorite drink isn’t within arm’s reach of your couch.
- Let others know your plan and ask for support. If you let your friends and family know your goals around alcohol, they will be less likely to tempt you with drink invitations. You may even get a few friends to join you on your 31 day journey!
Be mindful of your emotions through this process and be aware that individuals with alcohol dependence or addiction could experience dangerous and even life-threatening side effects from a complete detox. If you are worried for yourself or a loved one, consult with a medical professional before attempting a month of alcohol abstinence.
Dry January is a great opportunity to explore the health benefits of lowering your alcohol consumption, but it also provides a moment of reflection on our habits and our coping skills. Some people try dry and never look back!
Delegating is a vital skill for managers, but if you don’t learn to delegate effectively, you will not only overload your own schedule, max out your capacity, and prioritize the wrong tasks, but your staff will miss out on valuable training and opportunities to grow.
Delegation, like any valuable skill, takes practice and time. Integrating these tips slowly into your leadership style will help you and your staff grow over the course of the new year.
First things first, what is delegation and why do I need it?
Merriam Webster defines delegation as “the act of empowering to act for another” and that truly captures the benefits delegation can bring to you staff.
When you learn to effectively delegate, you will ensure you have time to focus on important activities that require intense dedication of your skill and time, and your staff will learn new skills, grow as professionals, gel better as a team, and increase both their morale and their productivity.
Delegating doesn’t just produce a better work environment – it is also linked to tangible revenue increases. A survey conducted by Gallup found that CEOs who mastered delegation generated 33% greater revenue.
So, we know why we need it – now how do we do it?
Top 7 Tips to become a Master Delegator
- Learn what to delegate
We just spent 5 paragraphs talking about how great delegating is, but even so, not everything can be delegated. Learning what to delegate is step number one. Some tasks require your managerial and strategic expertise, but there are a lot of tasks you can delegate to your team.
Consider handing off:
- Recurring tasks that happen daily, weekly, or monthly
- Tasks that don’t have to be completed in a specific way – allowing for staff creativity and different work styles
- Teachable moments – tasks that would help further your employees’ careers
- Tasks that can be outsourced to third party companies that employee experts in their fields (we’ll talk more about this in #6)
- Anything that aligns with a specific professional goal you know an employee is working towards
- Know your team
Delegating to the right people is vital to the success of each project! Take time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team. This will help you select people you know can do the job well, and research shows individuals are more motivated and engaged when they have a high chance of doing a job well.
But you also want to understand the interests of your employees. If there is someone who wants to grow professionally in a certain skill, finding a task in that arena to hand off to them provides a great opportunity for them to grow, and allows you to develop a more well-rounded team. Take time to get to know your direct reports. Ask them what skills they currently have, but also ask them what skills they would like to learn and what areas of your organization interest them the most.
- Guide, don’t micromanage
This is one of the hardest steps for new delegators. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are the only person on the planet that knows how to accomplish a certain task, and that our method is the only proper method. But, instructing your employee how to accomplish a task step by step and then monitoring each step along the way isn’t empowering, doesn’t save you any time, and doesn’t foster growth. One survey found that employees who felt micromanaged experienced a decrease in morale and productivity.
Instead, make sure they understand the desired goal of the project, the expectations of their work, and appropriate due dates. Check in periodically, have team meetings when appropriate, and make sure your employees have clear and easy lines of communication open with you as they work, but be sure they are allowed flexibility on how they reach the end goal of the project and be open to new ideas when there isn’t a specific protocol or procedure in place.
- Be Patient
Delegating has a lot of benefits, but it won’t be an instant fix. As your team members tackle tasks they have never handled before, they will have lots of questions. Prepare to take time to answer those questions and understand that tasks that normally take you 15 minutes might take 30 minutes as they learn new skills and procedures. Allow them time to master their new tasks and hone their time management skills without expecting perfection immediately.
- Give your team the resources to succeed
Make sure your employees have the practical tools they need to succeed. This means they need access to documents, procedures, and historical data on their new project, as well as clear metrics for measuring success, and expected timelines. Giving them the resources needed to succeed might also mean investing in training. If a staff member requires training to complete a specific task, it may be tempting to write them off and take over the task yourself, but training is an investment in your team, and can encourage employee retention.
- Outsource when needed
Sometimes, your team just doesn’t have a certain ultra-specific skillset, and the training is either too time-intensive or out of the question budget-wise. When you face a task like that, outsourcing can be a great option. Learning to recognize tasks you need done but cannot provide training for allows you to identify prime areas for outsourcing. IT and Medical Billing are great areas to explore outsourcing as a resource.
But the rules of master delegators still apply! Make sure you get to know your outsourcing company well, have access to your outsourced team, and identify a company that has the skills you need to get the job done better than anyone on your current team. If you’re interested in outsourcing your medical billing, send Practice Management a message here – we’d love to get to know you and see if we’re a good fit!
- Share the spotlight
Taking all the credit for a task you delegated out is a great way to tank your team morale. Thanking team members that successfully complete new tasks not only makes your employees feel good, but also increases their engagement leading to more productivity and job satisfaction.
Prioritizing delegation in 2023 can lead to one of your best years ever by freeing up your time for high-level projects, empowering your team, and boosting productivity across the board!
Whether your organization is a group practice, an FQHC, a hospital, or another type of healthcare organization, growth is always the goal, but growing your practice looks different in 2022 than it did in 1992. Patients have turned into consumers, seeking a high level of customer service. Many patients are viewing healthcare as a purchase and are doing more research than ever before – and that research is being conducted online. Attracting new patients and growing your practice now requires a mix of digital and in-person efforts.
How can you grow your practice in the coming year? This month, we’re sharing 5 of our favorite ways to grow your practice!
- Deliver the best experience possible
Before we dive into the digital world, step 1 is ensuring that you are providing the best care and patient experience possible! You want your patients to feel comfortable in your practice and rave about their experience.
Make sure you are prioritizing patient care. This doesn’t just come down to the skill of your providers, but also their workload and bedside habits. Encourage your providers to spend time getting to know their patients, listening to them, providing clear communication, and developing appropriate relationships.
The patient experience goes beyond their interaction with their primary physician. From the very first interaction a patient has with your healthcare organization, you want to create a positive experience. Phone calls should be easy and pleasant, email communication should be courteous, and new patients should be provided with practical information like where to park, how to find your building, and where to check in before they arrive for their appointment.
- Prioritize your website
77% of patients use search engines prior to booking appointments, and the top Google result receives 33% more clicks than other search results. Your website matters!
Since your website will likely be the first impression a potential patient gets of your practice, you want it to contain accurate information. Ensure that all the information, from addresses and phone numbers to physician names and photos are up to date. You also want the site to be aesthetically pleasing. Consider paying a web developer to design your site or use one of the many simple softwares that allow you to build your own website so you can keep your site looking clean and modern. And don’t forget mobile users when creating your design!
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is also important for your website, and will help boost you into that top spot in Google search results. SEO sounds scarier than it is – we promise! SEO will improve organically for your practice website if you keep your information accurate and produce content that relates to the patients who will be searching for your practice.
- Consider outsourcing your billing
If you want to grow your practice, it’s no secret you’ll need money! Increasing your revenue allows you to reinvest in your programs, hire new staff, and purchase new technology, enabling you to comfortably and effectively handle a heavier patient load. But how do you increase your revenue before you increase your patients?
Outsourcing your billing could be the answer! Practice Management has been helping our clients increase their revenue since 1995 – one client experienced a 64% increase in revenue while seeing 25.7% fewer patients overall (check out more testimonials here). 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 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.
- Word of mouth matters! But it looks different in 2022.
71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and those online reviews are often the first impression a new patient will get of your practice.
As potential new patients begin their search for a new physician, online is their first, and often only, stop. Getting your happy patients to leave positive reviews is one of the most powerful things you can do to create growth for your practice. When your practice shows up online with dozens of glowing reviews, you begin to build trust with your potential patients before they even make their first appointment.
One of the easiest ways to increase the number of positive reviews is simply to ask for them! Make it a part of your standard operating procedures for reception staff to remind patients to leave a review online as they are checking them out, and then implement an automated system with reminders to leave a review. The flow could include:
- In person requests for reviews
- A follow-up request for review via email
- A review request included in appointment reminder emails and texts
- A link to review on your website
- Occasional social media requests for reviews
- Don’t be afraid of social media
Social media is a powerful tool for growing your practice! It may seem intimidating, but keeping it simple and focusing on just one or two platforms, can create a large impact.
Focus on creating content that your potential patients would be interested in. According to Forbes, this generally means content about conditions, treatments, and FAQs. Your objective in managing your social media pages shouldn’t be just to gain followers, but instead to attract new potential patients and establish a good reputation in the online space. Pick topics you’re familiar with and subjects that allow you to quickly and easily create content from your current wealth of knowledge.
With just one or two social platforms under your belt, and a modest advertising budget, you can build a social media brand that establishes your practice as a trusted expert for treatment in your community.
Which one of these tips do you want to try for the new year?
As we come out of the years-long pandemic and explore new routines, habits, and workplace cultures, employee burnout has become less of a buzzword in the healthcare sphere, but the problem has not gone away. A survey taken in late 2021 found that 38% of healthcare workers were experiencing PSTD, 74% suffered from depression, and 75% coped with anxiety.
New procedures have been implemented over the last two years in the healthcare space, and as protocols change, technology changes, and healthcare administrators find themselves managing new protocols and remote teams across the country, we decided it would be a good time to revisit burnout busting in the healthcare field with some of our favorite and most practical burnout busting tips!
- Provide access to helpful and evidence based resources
Burnout is less of a mystery now than it was decades ago when the term was coined, and research has taught us a lot about what options truly make a difference for overwhelmed staff.
While flashy burnout busting ideas like a staff yoga retreat sound trendy, research shows that tangible benefits such as paid sick leave and explicit encouragement from supervisors provide better burnout busting benefits.
Ensuring your employees understand their treatment options, and how to access psychiatric treatment through their insurance or other organizational arrangements is vital. Knowing where they can turn for help empowers your employees to seek treatment when they need it and discussing available treatment options openly as a staff is not only practical but also helps destigmatize those treatments in the workplace.
- Advocate for your employees
One big factor in successfully preventing or coping with burnout is support. When your team feels support from leadership, they feel like their place of employment is a safe space and that they are a priority, not an afterthought.
There are many ways you can advocate for your employees, protecting their mental, emotional and physical health while on the job.
Implement realistic sick leave and paid time off policies
This lets your employees know their physical health is important, and their emotional well-being and quality of life matters too. Simply taking a break can help prevent burnout and creating policies that give your employees the opportunity to take these breaks makes a big difference.
Create realistic staffing policies
Workload is a big factor in burnout. By building an organizational structure and staffing policies that require you to have enough employees to efficiently accomplish the work at hand, it protects your whole team from burnout caused by overworking.
Support their boundaries
When an employee feels overwhelmed with work, they may feel that the solution is to work more in an attempt to catch up. But in reality, this often creates the opposite effect, draining your employee physically and mentally. If you notice a team member struggling with burnout, take the time to discuss their work-life balance and their boundaries. Leadership initiating a conversation about healthy boundaries sets the tone for your entire healthcare organization’s culture and ensuring that you do not expect your employees to answer their phone or email when they are not on the clock can provide relief to stressed out employees and help them feel like their boundaries and normal and healthy, and not a sign of laziness.
Ask them what’s causing their burnout
Talking to your employees is a simple step, but incredibly important. Ask them how they feel about their workload or what changes they would make to their responsibilities. This will provide insight into your team, and clear communication could reveal a problem in the workplace infrastructure or operating procedures that can easily be remedied.
- Build a great team
Building a great team is more than just hiring talented staff. Be sure you’re hiring enough staff! And then make the most of your team. Spreading the workload out across multiple employees helps prevent burnout and makes the best use of the talent on your team.
Are there tasks that can be removed from a clinician’s workload and placed on the shoulders of an administrative team? Can you organize extended teams to support physicians and nurses handling documentation and scheduling? Would outsourcing some of the current daily operations help strengthen your team, lessen their stress and increase their productivity without burning out? Check out this blog covering the top reasons to consider outsourcing your billing or contact Practice Management to see if this service would be a good fit for your team. Think creatively about your team, and you may just find new ways to build your bench of talent and protect your current employees!
- Be realistic in your timelines
Keeping a schedule is vital in the healthcare world but be realistic when you are creating these deadlines. Allow time for what matters, like time with patients and creating real connections. Valuing people over productivity gives your patients and your staff the time they need to create trusting relationships and deliver quality care.
- Use technology
Technology is a vital part of healthcare work in 2022! Selecting the right EHR and spending time developing streamlined and efficient standard operating procedures that utilize the most helpful technology available to your health center saves time and stress on your team! Be picky about your software, seek input from the individuals using it every day, and consider regularly surveying your staff to gain insight into which procedures are working and which are sucking away valuable time and adding stress to daily operations. For example, Hawaii Pacific Health’s “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” program asks employees to submit poorly designed EHR tasks regularly, and one suggested change ended up saving about 1,700 nursing hours per month!
Taking care of your team now is an investment in the future success of your employees and your healthcare organization. Busting burnout in the healthcare field will continue to be an important part of taking care of your team and your community!