I’m going to turn the lights down low, burn a few candles, play some Norah Jones, and slip into something a little less comfortable: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance (yeah, baby). Okay, so maybe it’s not the sexiest of topics, but familiarizing yourself with the most common HIPAA compliance issues helps keep your practice in the know—and out of the jailhouse. So, let’s strip it down, shall we?
Some people believe self-awareness and mindfulness to be critical components to leadership success and healthy organizations. In fact, it’s a model one PT has used for several years to support herself and the health of other organizations.
Social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are becoming far more visual. As a physical therapist, you can use images to tell a meaningful story that will actual engage your social media audience. Here’s how.
Before you get too far into your plans to beef up your clinic’s sales and marketing efforts, remember that you’re a healthcare provider first, which means you’ve got some HIPAA hoops to jump through (ahem, rules to follow) that the small business owner down the street probably doesn’t have to worry about. Before we get into that, though, let’s establish a bit of background.
As a clinic director or owner, you know that strategic hiring plays a key role in the success of your practice. But are you applying this knowledge to your front office staff hires? According to Monster.com, “failure to devote time and resources to your small business hiring strategy for non-clinical positions is a common mistake for even the most talented of clinicians in private practice.” And this common mistake can adversely affect your business—not only in terms of patient satisfaction, but also in terms of your bottom line. After all, “communication breakdowns between the front office and clinicians can result in a malpractice claim. And a single HIPAA violation can bring a fine of up to $50,000,” Monster continues.
Here are six business-benefiting qualities to look for in a front office candidate:
Biller at Heart
Front office employees typically answer phones, complete patient intakes, and book appointments, but that’s only the tip of the front office iceberg. Billing starts in the front office, and mistakes could negatively affect your reimbursements—or worse, decrease your chances of getting paid at all. Your front office team should verify each patient’s insurance and benefits before you begin treatment.
Now, you may already have aids or billers verifying insurance. Well, stop. Aids should be helping you treat and billers should be chasing A/R (i.e., getting you paid). Also, it’s a waste of their wages to have them verifying benefits. Perhaps you pay a third-party to validate insurance. Stop that as well. It’s too costly and time-consuming, and any front office staffer worth his or her salt should be able to complete this task in a timely and efficient manner.
According to Today’s Practice’s “7 Key Elements of Growing a Successful Office Staff,” your front office staff “should not be afraid to collect copays or self-pay payments. Copays and the self-pay population are on the rise. It is the patient’s responsibility to pay and it’s the front desk staff’s responsibility to enforce this.” Sounds like a lot of pressure—and it is. So make sure you’re hiring someone who is perfectly comfortable asking for money owed.
An Om Blog article recommends documenting every single thing your front office staff does. (Don’t forget to add insurance verification and payment collection.) When you get it all on paper, you’ll realize it’s a pretty substantial list of responsibilities. Lots of people include “ability to multi-task” on their job applications. For this position, you want to make sure the candidate truly lives up to that qualification.
Hip to Your Software
When I first entered my field, everyone wanted to make sure I knew Microsoft Office backwards and forwards. Now, they want to make sure I know how to use web-based blogging platforms. Times change, but the desire to hire people who know their industry’s software doesn’t. As Today’s Practice explains, hiring someone with knowledge of your practice management and/ordocumentation software will enable you to “spend less time and money on training. In addition, the transition will be smoother for this person and the existing office staff.”
We’re already seeing therapists and front office staff alike listing WebPT on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, so why not look for such qualifications during your hiring process? To be safe, list the software your practice uses on the position description.Today’s Practice also recommends quizzing potential candidates or new hires to determine their degree of experience with a particular program.
Speaking of position descriptions, put a lot of time and thought into your job listings. As Monster explains, “when the pressure is on to open the doors to your new practice or replace a soon-to-depart receptionist or scheduler, you’ll be tempted to rush.” In the article, Brian Nylaan, DDS, who has a solo practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said: “‘I didn’t always do my homework in terms of talking with the candidate and having the whole team do so, because I just wanted to end the stress of having a position vacant.’” Don’t go that route. You have good reasons (like everything listed above and then some) to avoid the need-a-warm-body temptation and hire the right candidate. That starts with crafting an honest, detailed, well-written job announcement.
Company culture impacts your employees’ happiness and thus your bottom line, and as this article points out, poor company culture leads to carelessness, neglect, sunken morale, and ultimately, a lack of growth. If that’s not motivation enough to take a long, hard look at your own practice—your business—I don’t know what is. To help facilitate this introspection, we’ve assembled some red flags to watch out for. Here are eight signs that your company culture isn’t up to snuff:
As we pointed out in previous posts this month, every company has a culture—whether they know it or not. That culture might not be a great one or even a good one, but it definitely exists. If that’s the case, then why are so many people unsure about their companies’ cultures? I’m guessing that 1.) from the employees’ perspective it’s not a great place to work, so they assume there is no culture, or 2.) no one has defined it—and if no one has defined it, then how can anyone be sure of what it is?
In 2011, the entire WebPT team sat in a conference room (we were a much smaller team back then) to reflect on the previous year—what we did well, what we wanted to improve upon, and what our goals were for the new year. One of those goals? Define and document who we were and wanted to be as a company. In other words, our company culture.
So, the following year, in that same conference room, we poured WebPT’s heart and soul out onto a giant whiteboard and distilled that down to our core values. From there, we developed our team commitments and documented them in a handbook every new hire receives during training. Today, we all know each and every commitment backwards and forwards. They are guiding principles in our hiring criteria, performance review process, strategic planning, and pretty much every decision that we make at WebPT.