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Monthly POS goal of $450,000 is goal
Cash can motivate staff
At University of California San Diego Medical Center, members of the patient access staff participate in the organization's Clinical Excellence Staff Incentive Plan, which gives them an opportunity to earn additional pay for meeting specific goals, says Brenda M. Lamb, assistant director of admissions and patient access.
When an individual staff member, the department, and the organization all do well in implementing strategic goals, staff become eligible to receive financial rewards, explains Lamb. "The incentive plan is based on a concept called 'gain-sharing.' It is our way of acknowledging and rewarding employees who achieve their goals," Lamb says. "If we achieve our service goals, both institutional and unit-specific, at the maximum level, this year's award could be as much as $1,000 per employee."
For inpatient registration areas, for example, the service goal is based on the number of 'definitely yes' answers under the "likelihood to recommend" question on the hospital's patient satisfaction survey.
Lamb says that 25% of the award is based on the category of service. "Every employee in this organization contributes to the patient experience," she says. "We need to work as a team to ensure that customer service is given at all times."
This year, 75% of the incentive plan is based on goals developed at the department level, adds Lamb. In previous years, she says, department goals have involved customer service, courtesy of patient access staff, patient account denials specific to patient access, and improving financial viability. "It's not the same every year, which in itself is motivating," says Lamb.
Phone payments taken
This year, members of the patient access staff at University of California San Diego are working to meet a monthly goal of $450,000 point-of-service (POS) cash collections, reports Lamb. These changes were made:
A Financial Clearance Center was established, consisting of staff who verify insurance eligibility and benefits and document patient liability.
Members of this team contact patients to confirm their scheduled admission, says Lamb. Registrars notify the patient that their insurance has been verified, that authorization has been obtained, and that liability has been determined.
"They let the patient know they can take care of that payment now over the phone, so the patient does not have to deal with this matter on the day of their admission," says Lamb. "Their focus can be on their health needs, and not financial."
If a patient says they would rather pay on the date of service, staff document this on the patient's account, says Lamb. "It then becomes the responsibility of the front-end patient access staff to collect at the time of the patient's arrival," she says.
Lamb receives daily reports on patients with outstanding balances.
The report gives her the amount of the deductible that already has been met and what percentage of the patient's coinsurance is the patient's responsibility as opposed to the health plan's, says Lamb.
Refresher training was provided for staff.
This education includes detailed training on the health plan contract for each of the primary payers, says Lamb. "This increased their overall skills," she says. "Staff have more understanding of the patient's liability, including deductibles and coinsurance percentages based on expected service."