Part B News: Improve Employee Productivity with Proper Tracking, Growth Opportunities

President of Cielo Healthcare, Jill Schwieters, was featured this week on Part B News, an online publication by DecisionHealth dedicated to providing news and analysis on Medicare Part B payment, coding and billing rules for physician practices. The article, Improve Employee Productivity with Proper Tracking, Growth Opportunities (subscription required), features Jill delving into the bottom-line importance of investing and cultivating quality healthcare talent.

Excerpts from the article:

Employee performance and productivity is vital to the success of your practice, says Jill Schwieters, President of Cielo Healthcare … “You invest in talent,” she says. “You spend a lot of time sourcing, interviewing and finding them – it’s just good ROI to cultivate that.”

Before tracking performance, the practice and employee need to have clear goals and expectations. Start with an employment policy vetted by an attorney specializing in labor law. The terms of such policies are in most regards cut and dried … and often are worded to explain what the practice does not promise the employee.

Next, devise a way of tracking employee performance. This typically includes an annual evaluation with a form that has clear performance measures and a section that provides opportunities for the employer and the employee to give feedback, says Schwieters.

On what basis do you judge the employee? On clear goals and expectations that both parties agree on and which are included in the employee’s file, says Schwieters.

These goals and expectations should relate to the practice’s needs and be adjustable year to year to drive improved performance. Depending on the practice’s own business performance, you may expect employees to exceed their previous year’s performance.

On performance metrics and compliance:

  • Compliance officers. “Very clear clinical and regulatory guidelines” determine success or failure, and their completion would obviously be part of their performance rating, says Schwieters. But you can’t just say that the officer has met expectations if the practice managed not to get sued or fined.
  • Conversely, the office may be doing a great job even if the practice has been charged with fraud through no fault of his or her own. So, you can develop metrics that reflect the relationship of the officer’s performance to the practice, says Schwieters – for example:
  • Involvement. Did he or she improve participation and awareness rates? Measure that metric by surveying employees. Front desk personnel. Remember that this is a customer service job and devise performance tracking accordingly. “They’re your public face,” says Schwieters.

  • First-call resolution. “Are they getting callers what they need?” says Schwieters. “Or are they just passing them along?” Your phone service provider or an “interactions management” company can help with measurement of this; you also may choose to have employees gather data themselves by asking callers at the end of the encounter whether their issue was resolved and noting it on a call sheet created for the purpose.

On using coaching to motivate staff:

  • Don’t discount the role of simple encouragement in getting workers to perform better … Managers also should meet frequently with employees to check progress, address concerns and make adjustments as needed.
  • “Evaluation is a once-a-year, have-to-do thing,” says Schwieters. “But good leaders constantly coach their people to keep their development going.”