Preventing Biller Burnout -5 Tips to Keeping Billing Staff Happy and Loyal

With Labor Day around the corner, most likely you’ve made some plans for the long weekend. Barbeques, swimming, and spending quality time with family and friends might be on the agenda. Or maybe no plans at all – just quiet time to rest and reset. The long weekend should be just the elixir to make everybody want to come back to work with renewed energy and enthusiasm – or will it?

Unfortunately, for an increasing number of American workers – including our medical billing company customers - burnout is real, and one long weekend cannot solve the problem. Caused by a person’s inability to relieve the physical and mental symptoms associated with unrelenting stress, burnout can manifest itself in poor job performance, a lack of connection with people, and diminishing motivation. It can also cause health problems such as high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, or lead to unhealthy addictions.

In fact, the term “burnout” was added to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 2019. According to the ICD, burnout is a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is characterized by three dimensions: energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance or feelings of cynicism related to one's job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Moreover, ICD-11 contains four times more codes within it than ICD-10, which indicates that this health condition has gone up, not down, in recent years.

The good news is that if you are a billing company owner, it does not have to stay that way. There are ways to dial down the burnout of your billing staff, so you can all relax knowing  everyone can truly enjoy not just Labor Day - but all weekends, holiday, and vacations without worrying about they will be facing when they get back to work. You and your employees might enjoy your job a lot more too.

Terri Joy, MBA, CPC-I, Kareo Subject Matter Expert in Billing, conducted a session in August on biller burnout at the company’s Kareo Live: Billing Company Summit. She emphasized that Kareo wants to ensure that our billing company partners never go it alone. Understanding what billers need and using the right tools will go a long way in keeping billers happy and loyal.

According to Joy, some of the reasons that cause burnout among billers include:
• not feeling valued
• competency doubt
• loss of empowerment
• perceived low accomplishment
• routine and peer drama.

The consequences, she said, are mental exhaustion, emotional fragility, physical illness, personal disconnection, chronic stress, reduced productivity, increased errors, increased absenteeism, and turnover.

“Hiring and training a new biller can cost as much as an annual salary, so it makes sense to keep existing staff members happy,” Joy explained.

Here are Joy's top ftips for preventing biller burnout among your staff: 

A little appreciation goes a long way

Joy recommends interpersonal touches like meeting shoutouts, support callouts and small gifts. “One way to find out if your billers are burned out is to ask them why they aren’t performing well, and their answer is, they just don’t know. Whenever possible, Joy recommends making changes to encourage wellness such as actively encouraging breaks, providing a meditation/quiet room, and reminders to take movement breaks at the workspace.

Help billers to feel empowered

Involving your billing staff in decision making gives them a greater sense of empowerment, according to Joy. Some of those decisions include scheduling variety, allowing for work when the biller works best, maximizing efficiency, enabling work from home flexibility, providing a variety of daily tasks, and finding routines that enhance productivity.

Create an environment of continuous learning, especially biller-to-biller

Joy advised billing companies to provide time and money to cover what is needed for their staff to earn billing certifications, which helps them on the job. In addition, cover costs for memberships and enable employees to network in person or on social media. Kareo billing company customers can also access educational tools including Kareo University, giving billers access to articles and data insights from past actions. Remind billers that they are part of the overall mission. Joy said billing company management should find ways to remind staff of the bigger picture they contribute to such as being connected to patient care, reducing physician stress, and increasing patient trust.

In summary, to help reduce biller burnout, use leadership skills to:

• break down barriers
• facilitate relationships,
• sandwich feedback - positive/constructive/positive
• manage workplace drama
• create a safe space for employees to talk

Wishing all of our billing company and independent practice customers a very Happy Labor Day holiday ahead!

If you are a billing company looking for a new practice management solution partner, visit us here.

About the Author

Ilene Schneider, owner of Schneider the Writer, provides communications support to health care, technology, educational and service enterprises. Ilene has an extensive...

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