How to Handle Not Getting a Raise

Lea Chatham November 25th, 2014

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6000911_57260_1_14087535_300-300x200By Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

OK first off…even though the economy is improving, many businesses are still wary, and a lot of people aren’t getting raises, so it’s not just you. In healthcare, specifically, practices have concerns about changes in reimbursement, the cost of ICD-10, and coming penalties from CMS in 2015. The one thing you should absolutely NOT do is get in a snit and go storming out of your boss’s office. That will do nothing for your next evaluation, your next shot at a raise, or your standing at the practice.

You do, however, have the right to know why your raise was turned down, and there might be a number of different reasons:

  1. Company finances. With things being what they are in healthcare, there’s a real good chance that this is going to be the case. And if they tell you that, there’s a real good chance that they are being honest with you, especially if nobody else in the practice is seeing a raise. If that’s the case, there’s not much that you can do but accept it, get over it, and move on. As the economy continues to improve so will your chances of you raise down the road.
  2. Poor timing. Some healthcare businesses are more seasonal that others. It may not be the right time. Or, it may be that a recent large investment in the practice makes it difficult to invest in raises today. If that’s the case, once again, there’s not much you can do about it. Of course, that doesn’t do you much good if your own expenses are going up, your spouse lost a job or your kids need braces. Discuss the possibility of overtime or incentive pay. Some practices are offering incentives to staff who increase appointments through recall programs or increase patient collections. Unfortunately, if the practice is feeling the pinch (as in the above scenario) they may also be cutting back on bonuses, overtime, and incentives to scale back on payroll expenses. So…if you’re going to have to wait until the next quarter, next year, or next evaluation (and overtime isn’t an option) your best move is going to be to keep the nose to the grindstone and do the absolute best job you can manage so that when the time comes, you’ll get that raise after all!
  3. Poor performance. If your raise was declined due to performance issues, this is when you need to be proactive, stand on your own two feet and find out the specifics. Chances are you’re going to find this out when it’s evaluation time anyway, but regardless, ask your manager what areas need to be improved. Find out where your weak points are, and do your dead level best to improve on them. Or, your alternative might be to start looking for another job elsewhere, with better pay and better opportunities. But a word to the wise here: if you’re moving in that direction, keep it to yourself. Nothing can sabotage your future quicker than making it known that you’re thinking about moving on.

It can be hard when you don’t get a raise you expected, but the reasons may be valid.Tweet this Kareo story
It may also be an opportunity for you to bring new ideas and challenge yourself. Suggesting incentives for employees based on certain performance measures like increasing appointments is one way. Another way is to take advantage of educational opportunities to grow in your field. There are many free programs out there than can help you excel at your work.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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3 Ways Clutter Can Affect Your Success

Lea Chatham October 29th, 2014

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1950409800_01d5a2e270_zBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Clutter really does affect your success: there have been studies that prove it impacts the way employers and coworkers view your ability to do your job. Forbes ran an article called “The Dangers Of A Messy Desk” where a study clearly showed that co-workers judge other’s work habits by their cleanliness, and Office Max did a similar study with similar results.

 

Here are three ways that those piles on your desk bring your professional success to a halt:Tweet this Kareo story

  1. You lose important information. The argument that it has to be in your view in order for you to remember to do it loses its power when you stop seeing the item that is in front of you. Honestly, what important piece of paper have you frantically looked for in the past few months?
  2. You get overwhelmed. How many times have you said, “I can’t deal with that right now, I’ll get to it later”? How many times did you actually get to it and do it the way you should have?
  3. You look inefficient. People assume that you are just like your work area: overwhelmed by piles of papers and stuff while you stop seeing what’s in front of you and lose important information.

This isn’t just a workplace problem. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families came out with a book on our clutter culture in America that is kind of fascinating, appalling, and convicting all at the same time. But we don’t have to be handcuffed by our clutter habits!

Get real and start small. Take ten or fifteen minutes (set the timer) and work on one pile…and stop at the end of that time. Do this every day and you will begin to see a big difference. There’s all sorts of decluttering advice out there, but the big thing is doing it; if you wait until you have time to do it all, you probably never will.

Take a picture of your desk, cubicle, office, or work area, and look at it. Be honest, now. What would you think if that were a coworker’s space? If you were the boss, would you want that person working for you? If you like the way it looks, then maintain it. If you don’t like the way it looks, you have the ability to change it – a little at a time.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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The 9 Essential Questions to Ask a Potential Practice Manager

Lea Chatham October 28th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Lisa A. Eramo

Twenty or more years ago, hiring a practice manager wasn’t necessarily a difficult task. It often meant simply looking for someone with strong organizational and filing skills and perhaps clerical experience.

Today, it’s a different story.

Today’s practice mangers wear many hats. In addition to being operational directors, they often serve not only as human resources managers, but also as financial officers, information technology consultants, marketing gurus, and billing/documentation experts. This is particularly true for those working in smaller practices or for solo practitioners. Practice managers in these settings have been—and always will be—a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak.

Philip L. Dickey, MPH, PHR, HR services director/partner at DoctorsManagement, LLC, a consulting firm in Knoxville, TN says the role of practice manger has evolved over time and continues to expand to include a much more technical and diverse skillset. This is due, in part, to increasingly complex governmental regulations such as PQRS and Meaningful Use. Practice managers often oversee the day-to-day operations of a practice while also helping physicians meet demanding regulatory requirements and compliance.

Dickey provides insight into the questions physicians should consider when hiring someone for the critical role of practice manager. Tweet this Kareo story

  1. What training and experience does the individual have? Although higher education is not a requirement, Dickey says a bachelor’s degree in health services or health administration, for example, can be helpful. More importantly, though, is the individual’s actual experience working in a medical setting. “If they have come up through the ranks and have a proven track record of being successful as a practice manager, well, in my opinion, that’s just as good [as education],” he says.
  2. What coding/billing experience does the individual have? Coding is becoming increasingly important in physician practices, not only for reimbursement but also for quality ratings, audits, and more. As the industry transitions to ICD-10, physicians must ensure that they hire a practice manager who has knowledge of coding or who isn’t afraid to learn more, says Dickey. Also look for someone who can read/interpret financial statements, negotiate favorable contracts with payers, run detailed financial and productivity-related reports, and work closely with the practice’s accountant, he adds.
  3. How does the individual relate to physicians? Can the individual communicate effectively and respectfully with physicians? In smaller practices, this question is especially important because the practice manager has much more direct contact with physicians and other staff members, says Dickey. A strong practice manager should be able to advocate for change within the practice, when necessary, and engage in productive dialogue with physicians at all times.
  4. How polished are the individual’s interpersonal skills? Interpersonal skills are one of the most important traits that a practice manager must possess. He or she must be able to communicate effectively with other staff members as well as patients. The individual should possess a customer service-oriented mindset and feel comfortable answering patients’ questions and making patients feel comfortable.
  5. Does the individual enjoy working on a team? Smaller practices should hire someone who doesn’t mind being what Dickey calls a “working manager”—that is, someone who is willing to pitch in and ‘roll up their sleeves,’ when necessary. When working in a smaller practice, the practice manager should be open to cross-training so that he or she understands each role within the practice and can help out in the event that other staff members are on vacation, out sick, or resign unexpectedly.
  6. What leadership experience does the individual possess? Is he or she able to garner respect from others? In what other leadership roles has the individual served? What did he or she enjoy most about those roles? What did he or she enjoy least? Leadership experience is important because it denotes an individual’s ability to effect change within the practice and lead important initiatives such as an EHR implementation or the transition to ICD-10. In addition to being a leader, Dickey says practices should look for someone who is ethical and perseverant. Candidates should be able to articulate why these adjectives pertain to them as well.
  7. How does the individual handle conflict? Conflict within a practice setting is bound to occur whether it’s disagreement about a particular vendor to choose, how to address negative patient feedback, how to handle a dispute between employees, or a variety of other reasons. An effective practice manager should be able to address conflict directly and in a professional and respectful manner.
  8. What’s the individual’s comfort level working with technology? Today’s practice managers often oversee the entire EHR implementation, including choosing a vendor and working with that vendor to deploy the application. Practice managers also often choose and implement practice management software. If the practice manger is comfortable with using technology him or herself, he or she can also have a positive influence on physicians, making them comfortable with using it as well, says Dickey. “A practice manager is an IT person to some extent. They have to become knowledgeable about what kind of system they need and which ones are best. It’s a substantial investment of money and time for the practice,” he adds. Technology also includes Web sites and social media. Practice managers should feel comfortable working with web designers to produce content for the practice’s website, and they should also have some baseline knowledge of how to use social media to promote the practice.  As practices implement EHRs with patient portals, the practice manager should be able to answer questions and help patients navigate this technology as well.
  9. What other skills and experience can the individual bring to the table? At a minimum, practice managers should have strong organizational skills and experience working with Word and Excel. EHR experience is a plus. Some practices may also find it beneficial to hire someone who has experience working as part of an Accountable Care Organization if that’s an avenue that the practice is exploring.

Ultimately, physicians must assess whether the individual has the right mix of skills, knowledge, and personality. Don’t hesitate to wait for the right candidate, says Dickey. If the pool of candidates is limited, consider expanding the search beyond those who have experience working in a medical setting. For example, those who are business savvy or who may have been successful entrepreneurs in the past could become excellent practice managers with just the type of drive and confidence that a practice needs, he adds.

About the Author

LisaEramofreelanceLisa A. Eramo is a freelance writer/editor specializing in health information management, medical coding, and healthcare regulatory topics. She began her healthcare career as a referral specialist for a well-known cancer center. Lisa went on to work for several years at a healthcare publishing company. She regularly contributes to healthcare publications, websites, and blogs, including the AHIMA Journal and AHIMA Advantage. Her focus areas are medical coding, and ICD-10 in particular, clinical documentation improvement, and healthcare quality/efficiency.

 

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October Kareo Newsletter Takes a Look at Social Media for Physicians

Lea Chatham October 9th, 2014

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The October edition of the Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter takes a look at using LinkedIn, some best practices for work life balance and some handy tools to improve your medical billing. The newsletter also provides a chance to discover upcoming events, news, and resources from Kareo. Plus, you’ll learn about how to register for our upcoming free educational webinar, Define Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach, presented by physician social media expert Kevin Pho, MD. Read all this and more now!Tweet this Kareo story

October Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter

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Why I Recommend LinkedIn to Physicians by Kevin Pho, MD

Lea Chatham October 8th, 2014

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LinkedInBy Kevin Pho, MD

When I talk to physicians about dipping their toes into the social media waters, I advise starting with LinkedIn. Spend about 45 minutes or so and create a LinkedIn profile, which is essentially a digital translation of your CV. LinkedIn profiles get ranked highest among the social media platforms, and can push down the influence of negative news stories or physician rating sites.

Howard Luks is a social media thought leader, and whose opinion I respect tremendously. He wrote an insightful piece explaining why LinkedIn may not be right for doctors:

“As a physician on LinkedIn, not only do you have a virtual “please sell to me” sign on your forehead, most will perceive their presence on LinkedIn as a huge waste of time. Unless you are an aspiring entrepreneur, etc. you will find that the connections you make on LinkedIn are weak at best. In addition, while your patients are looking you up online, for the most part they are not looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

He goes on to suggest doctors spend their time on physician rating sites like Vitals or Healthgrades, Google+, or Yelp.

When it comes to establishing an online reputation, there are essentially two ways of doing it.Tweet this Kareo story

  1. “claiming” a profile on an existing physician rating site
  2. creating your own online presence, either with a website or through a social media platform

While I generally recommend the second approach of proactively defining yourself with social media, the first option of utilizing existing sites is viable.

First, much of the information in Vitals or Healthgrades is inaccurate, and can lead to the so-called Google Maps problem, where Google may use the information on these sites.

Second, physicians can leverage the high search engine visibility that these sites generally garner.

The downside of this approach is that these sites are for-profit and generally don’t have physicians’ best interests at heart.  Their physician profile pages are littered with ads, which can subtly imply a physician’s endorsement.

Also, consider the terms of service of one of these sites, which are heavily skewed against the doctor:

“You acknowledge that your Physician-Provided Material may be used without restriction for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without any compensation or obligation to you.”

Because of those reasons, I prefer doctors create social media profiles instead, where they have more control over how their online identity is controlled and presented.

Howard also recommends Google+ and Google Places for Business. However, there is more friction in taking this approach, namely the cumbersome way Google verifies your business address. If this can be overcome, this does indeed have the highest search engine impact, as seen below:

kevin-pho LinkedIn

But any friction whatsoever prevents the majority of physicians from defining themselves online. From talking to doctors across the country, many are petrified of taking even minimal steps to be visible online.

Which brings us back to LinkedIn.

While it isn’t perfect for the reasons Howard mentioned, LinkedIn is a low-threat, low-resource, high-yield action.

I acknowledge that there are tradeoffs involved, and after considering those, continue to recommend it as a reasonable first step to establish a physician’s online reputation.

This piece originally appeared on KevinMD.com. For more tips an strategies from Kevin Pho, register now for his upcoming free webinar, Defining Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach.

About the Author

Kevin Pho for Health LeadersKevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is on the editorial board of contributors, USA Today, and is founder and editor, KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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6 Tips for Creating Work Life Balance

Lea Chatham October 8th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Balancing work and family can seem like an impossible task. According to the Physicians Practice Great American Physician Survey, sponsored by Kareo, many physicians struggle with creating work life balance and they want to improve this area. As a mother of two young children, figuring out how to juggle everything has become a personal quest of mine. A recent article in The Atlantic looks at some of the numbers in recent studies on work-life balance in the U.S., and it makes an interesting read. Why do so many struggle with this balancing act? Is there ever a happy medium?

The reality is that the process of balancing is dynamic, and it changes as the situations change. Here are some tips to help put this seemingly impossible task into perspective:

  1. Recognize that family life has seasons. The demands on your time and energy will change as new members are added to the family and as kids get older. Homework becomes more independent for kids as they get older, meaning less homework for mom and dad to help with.
  2. Schedule family times, just as you schedule your appointments. It might sound cold, or not spontaneous, but it works–especially if you are like me and live by your calendar. Plan some vacation time now and block it on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be two weeks at the shore, but you do need to have fun together as a family. A weekend at a cabin, a walk through town or your neighborhood, or an evening at an ice cream store works, too.
  3. If the traditional family dinner hour doesnt work for you, set a 8:30 meetup in your family room with a snack. The idea is to connect at least once a day for a short time because it is cumulative: all those short times build on one another to maintain relationships.
  4. Turn off the electronics during that connection time! Think face-time instead of screen-time. You can’t give your full attention to anyone if you’re getting texts.
  5. Say “no” to a few things. Choose not to “do it all” and just do one extra-curricular activity per family member.
  6. Delegate and get help when you are overwhelmed. You can’t do everything. Sometimes you need to break down and ask for help. I finally did just that. After years of taking care of children, keeping a clean house, and managing a growing business, I finally had to break down and admit I needed some help–in one area in particular–my landscaping. Now, I must add that my husband is a huge help in keeping the house organized and picked up, and is a great with the kids and their schedules, but does he know the difference between a weed from a Spring bud? NO. To him they all get pulled out. So, I hired Joanna, Master Gardener and Savior of Pitiful Landscaping. She came in, took one look at what I was attempting to do with the yard, talked with me for awhile about what I wanted to see, and went to work. Just a few hours from her took such a load off my mind. What a difference a professional makes! I never knew my landscaping could look so good. Finally, curb appeal! Delegating that task was the best thing I ever did.

There will be times when family has to be the priority over work: sudden illnesses, crisis situations, school activities, etc. There will also be times when work has to have priority over family because of call schedules or a patient crisis. Balance is that shifting of resources to adapt to changing needs and keeping your focus on the priorities you’ve set.Tweet this Kareo story

Most of us would say that we work to provide for our family and that our families are also a priority. Deliberately investing your energy into connecting with your loved ones on a daily basis with occasional longer times together helps you maintain that critical balance between work and family. Delegating, limiting commitments, and asking for help allows you to focus on what is important.

 About the Author
erin-photo-200X300Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

 

 

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6 Steps to Hiring the Right Medical Practice Staff

Lea Chatham August 5th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StorySo, you’ve read the recent blog post on having the right medical practice staff mix at your practice. Now, you’re looking at your staffing, processes, and technology.

You may have discovered you are actually understaffed or incorrectly staffed. Perhaps someone has recently left the practice. Whatever the reason, you have determined you need to fill a position. Now what?

  1. Create a job description: Each position should have a clear job description that includes title, department, date the job description was developed and a revision date, who the employee reports to, and if the position is exempt or none exempt. The body of the job description should describe the general purpose of the position and responsibilities. This is where the job tasks are listed (i.e., knowledge, skills, and abilities). Describe the skills that are required to perform the job function and the experience needed. Include educational experience, physical requirements, and typical working conditions. Once the job description is complete you have the tools to identify the right candidate for the position. You can find sample descriptions online through a simple search or check with associations you belong to.
  2. Test the candidates: Test candidate knowledge and skills first so you don’t waste your time—or theirs. For example, if the position is for billing, have them complete a billing test before you interview. The test complexity should be based on the position. If the candidate does not pass the test, don’t interview. Tests should be conducted in the office so that you can be sure that the actual candidate is the one that took the test and not one of their friends.
  3. Identify the top applicants: Once you’ve tested skills, then you can interview the most qualified applicants. Depending on the size of your practice you may do more than one interview. In a smaller practice, the practice manager might be the only one who needs to speak with the candidates. In a larger practice, there could be an initial interview with the practice manager for the top candidates, followed by an interview of the top two with the department as a group or with the practice owner/provider.
  4. Conduct a working interview: Once you are down to the top two, schedule a working interview where the candidates get to work side-by-side with coworkers. Tweet this Kareo story
    This gives the practice a “test drive” to observe actual skills and how they interact with the patients and staff. A working interview should last no less than four hours and up to a week. Remember to have the candidates sign a confidentiality agreement before they are exposed to patient and business information. They should also have a clear understanding of HIPPA regulations.
  5. Conduct a background check: Once you have decided that the candidate is a good fit, make sure you complete a thorough professional reference and background check. Too often we are called in to practices for theft only to find out that the “perfect” candidate has a criminal background. It is important to remember that if the candidate has a criminal background that is not relevant to the position they are being hired for you cannot refuse them the position.
  6. Make an offer: When you have selected the ideal candidate, prepare a written offer letter. It should include the position they are being offered, rate of pay, who they report to on their first day, date and time they start, and if you are in a right to work state, a paragraph should be included to clarify what that means. Including a copy of the full job description is a good idea too. The offer letter and job description should be signed before the employee’s first day.

There is one last important thing to keep in mind. Often, employees leave without notice. When you hire in a right to work state no notice of termination is required by either party. You could find yourself short staffed with a full schedule of patients. Obviously, this puts pressure on you to fill the position quickly. Do not fill the position out of desperation. It is better to hire a temp to help out while you look for the right person. It may also be less expensive in the short term to pay a little overtime or reallocate staff to provide the appropriate coverage. It can cost up to $9,400.00 according to eHow to replace a wrong hire so don’t rush it.

About the Author

Rochelle_MG_1811Rochelle Glassman is President & CEO of United Physician Services. Rochelle brings a passionate, very practical “do it today” approach to making medical practices successful and getting physicians paid more.

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What’s Your Ideal Medical Practice Staffing Mix?

Lea Chatham July 22nd, 2014

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By Rochelle Glassman

Tweet this Kareo storyThere is no hard and fast rule on how many staff you require for your practice because each specialty and situation may require something different. It is important to understand your medical practice staffing needs based on the job functions required to efficiently operate and manage your practice. Understaffing can cause breakdown in operations that could result in errors, reduction in revenue, and patient dissatisfaction. Overstaffing may cause a loss of productivity and an unnecessary financial overhead burden.


How Many Staff Should You Have?
Many of the medical associations such as Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management (PAHCOM) and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) benchmark how many full-time employees you need per full-time provider. A full-time employee (FTE) is an employee who works between 35 and 40 hours per week. A practice’s FTEs may include front desk, billing, office management, medical assistants, nurses, and even scribes.

There are many factors that can influence your staffing like patient volume, specialty, and the use of technology.Tweet this Kareo story

Here are some recommendations from MGMA to use as a guide for your practice.

Tweet this Kareo story

Calculating Your Staffing Ratio
Before you calculate your practice’s staff-to-provider ratio, however, it’s essential to know how to do it correctly. It seems simple enough: Count up the doctors in your practice and divide by the number of billing staff, right? Well, not quite.

Rather than count each physician individually—a common mistake—practices must make sure to count physician FTEs. To properly calculate the number of physician FTEs within your practice, divide the total number of patient encounters performed during the past year for your entire practice by the average number of yearly physician encounters, (This number will be between 3,600 and 4,800 depending on your specialty. Primary care tends to be on the high end at 4,800 and single surgical specialists, like orthopedics tend to be on the low side at 3,600). The reason that you want to perform your FTE calculation in this manner is to accurately account for physicians who work part-time, job share, work any other less-than-full-time schedule, or manage their time efficiently and therefore are able to treat more patients.

To calculate the number of billing staff FTEs, you’ll want to define an FTE as an employee who has been compensated for 2,080 hours of work (40 hours/week X 52 weeks/year) during the last year. Like the physician FTE calculation, this will take into account any employees who work any schedules more or less than 40 hours per week. Hours to include in this calculation should be related to any personnel who participate in the physician revenue cycle, including insurance verification, data entry, coding, payment posting, accounts receivable follow-up, patient statement processing, customer service, etc.

Once you know your medical practice staffing ratio, compare it to the chart provided above. If you are much higher, it’s probably time to look at your staffing, processes, and technology. The next blog in this series will review areas where you may find inefficiencies and ways that process changes or technology can help.

About the Author

Rochelle_MG_1811Rochelle Glassman is President & CEO of United Physician Services. Rochelle brings a passionate, very practical “do it today” approach to making medical practices successful and getting physicians paid more.

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7 Ways to Erase Workplace Stress

Lea Chatham February 4th, 2014

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Medical practices are fast-paced places. On top of that there are so many things that you have to do and remember—HIPAA, billing changes and updates, and other regulatory changes. Then tack on the fact that you are often dealing with people who are sick or injured and may be tense or short tempered. Anyone in that situation is bound to get a little stressed out every now and again.

The thing about stress is that it is bad for you. It takes a toll on your body in many ways from raising your blood pressure to causing anxiety attacks and weight gain and it reduces your productivity.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to beat stress in the workplace. In honor of healthy heart month (less stress is good for your ticker!), here are 7 ways to manage and reduce workplace stress:

  1. Stay alert for the warning signs. There are many signs of stress and recognizing them is an important part of getting it under control. Watch for feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression, and fatigue. Other signs include problems sleeping and concentrating as well as stomach issues, headache,s and muscle tension. Everyone is different and these are not all the possible signals of stress. Get to know your own responses to stress so you can see it coming.
  2. Take care of yourself. When you start to feel those signs of stress creeping in, do something about it. Take care of your mental and physical health first. Even small things can help you stay on track. Hydrate, get a little more rest, eat a healthy meal, etc. If you need to take some time away from the office, make arrangements for that. A short walk or lunch with a friend can work wonders to relieve tension.
  3. Remove stress triggers. Seeing the stress coming is one thing. Preventing it all together is another. Take some time to think about what triggers stress for you. For some people it is conflict with others, for another person it might be a messy desk. Identifying your triggers is the first step to addressing them.
  4. Build up your emotional intelligence. You’ve heard the phrase “Know thyself.” That is really what emotional intelligence is all about. Tweet This
    Beyond identifying your triggers, work on having self-awareness, awareness of others, and the ability to develop effective coping skills. You may be able to do these things on your own or you might need some help. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for professional help if you need it.
  5. Learn to resolve conflict. Conflict with others in the workplace can cause a lot of stress. And most of us don’t deal well with interpersonal tension. Learning to resolve these issues can be a huge stress buster. Read our recent post on reducing workplace tension for good strategies.
  6. Talk it out. This suggestion comes from the Mayo Clinic. An article from the Mayo Clinic suggests trying to get some perspective by getting other points of view or taking a break. Talking to a friend or colleague about what’s bothering you is a great way to help resolve the stress.
  7. Get some help. It was mentioned above, but it’s worth saying it again. Sometimes you need some help to resolve a problem. Seeing a professional can help you with all of the steps above if you just can’t seem to do them on your own. The best part is that due to changes in healthcare reimbursement, many insurance companies now cover mental health services with a co-pay, making it more accessible and affordable for many people.

Don’t let stress get in the way of workplace satisfaction. You spend 40 hours (or more) a week at your job. You should enjoy it.

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5 Steps to Improving Your Sense of Wellbeing

Lea Chatham January 7th, 2014

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By Jerry Bridge

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photo courtesy of Ruud Janssen

“If healthcare is about well being, then why am I so stressed out?” Tweet This

Over the past two decades I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of medical practices on a number of issues, ranging from collections to customer service, and now, ICD-10. I have come to understand, firsthand, the unique nature of healthcare as a business, along with the stresses and anxieties that so often seem to go with it!

Medical office managers and providers face extraordinary challenges for managing their limited time, staff, and projects. The time management models, first formed in the 1950’s, are simply insufficient for managing the speed, volume, and complexity of information coming at you. Now, add in industry changes like the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, and Meaningful Use. No wonder your feeling overwhelmed and stressed out!

How can you learn to live and work in a time in which there’s simply more to do than time to do it! I believe you need to learn and implement principles and practices for managing productivity and reducing stress!

Here are my 5 suggestions to help get you there:

  1. Commit yourself to a new possibility! This may sound easy or obvious but until and unless you are committed to a new possibility for yourself — the possibility of living and working with less stress  it may not ever show up for you!
  2. Manage Your ‘Techno Addictions’: Recognize and release your addiction to technology, to being constantly busy, and always on. Turn off your device(s). Here’s one idea: at lunch, have everyone put their smartphones in the middle of the table. First person to text or check email pays!
  3. Stop multitasking! It doesn’t work; we wind up doing more things but less effectively. Our brains love to focus on one thing at a time. It feels good as we become more mindful and present. For example, don’t eat lunch at your desk. Eat when you eat, work when you work, sleep when you sleep.
  4. Clean and organize! Clutter negatively impacts your productivity and well being. Think about what it feels like when you clean the garage or the closet that’s been nagging at you. Feels great, right? Get rid of all those trade magazines you’re going to read ‘someday’. Clean off your desk. Schedule time to do this in stages; don’t try to do it all at once.
  5. Breath, Conciously: Practice taking long slow deep breaths, which will naturally help to alleviate stress. Meditation works! (More than 600 scientific studies verifying the wide-ranging benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique, conducted at 250 independent universities and medical schools in 33 countries during the past 40 years.)

The more you practice any one of these suggestions the better you will feel. Feeling less anxiety and stress naturally enhances productivity and extends to excellent customer service. Of course there will be times when this is ‘easier said than done’. But it doesn’t matter because if healthcare is truly about well being, that includes you! It is up to each one of us to do whatever we can to take care of ourselves and be well.

About the Author

Jerry Bridge

Jerry Bridge is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and educator for the healthcare industry. Over the past 25 years Jerry has worked with thousands of providers, practice managers and staff nationwide on a variety of practice management issues ranging from billing and collections to customer service and communication. Jerry has written several articles and books on these subjects, including The ICD-10 Transition Planning Guide; Making a Successful timely Transition. To learn more, please visit www.healthcarecollections.net.

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