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9 Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover in a Medical Practice

April 22, 2019

Your practice is humming along smoothly and then, BOOM! A key front office employee is giving notice and you’re left with the unattractive prospect of having to recruit and train a new person.

In the span of a 30-year career, a provider or practice administrator is going to face this dilemma countless times. And each time is costly and disruptive to patient flow, employee effectiveness, and revenue cycle management (RCM).

Reduce Medical Practice Employee Turnover

Every employee is critical to your success and to your patient’s experience. Attracting, developing, and retaining the very best people is never an exact science, but it can be improved.

Cost estimates run around 50% of an annual salary to replace a front office staff member. This number considers advertising, interviewing, selection, and training. But what it doesn’t typically include is the downstream loss of reduced productivity from other employees having to divert efforts to cover for the open position, possible overtime, and the stress that comes with the additional workload.

Bottom Line – with reduced productivity comes less attention being paid to the processes that define your RCM program!

Since even the best human resources practices won’t totally eliminate employee turnover, one solution is to incorporate an automated prior authorization solution that can help minimize distraction and help reduce errors in your RCM during times of upheaval.

Now let’s look at nine tips to help you keep your outstanding employees and maintain vital practice health.

Hire the Best Front Office People, but if they don’t work out…

The first and most important component of effectively managing your most important resource is to hire the best candidates that you can locate. Here are some tips to guide you on the search:

  • Be sure that you have a strong job description that’s well structured and has built-in accountability
  • Ask for hiring referrals from your best employees – there’s a great chance they know other people who would be a good fit on your team
  • Cast a wide net and take your time to flesh out the best candidates
  • Design the interview process to include standard questions and always take good notes (this makes comparing candidates easier and protects you from legal consequences)
  • Really listen to the questions the candidate asks you – they can be very revealing
  • Engage interested providers or employees in the process and solicit their feedback
  • Don’t rush the process

And just a quick reminder – if the person you hire doesn’t work out, it’s better to release that employee and find a replacement quickly. Occasionally, even the best recruiter can make a bad choice.

Train for Success in a Medical Practice

It’s worth taking time to design a system for training new employees that not only teaches the fundamentals of the job they were hired to do, but to also impart the practice philosophy, culture, and expectations for patient interactions.

RCM should be a strong component in any training regime whether front office personnel, physicians or advanced practice providers (APP). Everyone plays a role and needs to understand how patients are guided through the financial system within the practice.

Pay Competitive Salaries and Benefits

Employee loyalty, especially at the front office level, is often based on security needs. Employees want to feel respected and valued, and part of that is seen as being fairly compensated with a strong benefits package. There is ample information available about what’s competitive in 2019; don’t let another practice entice your employees away because they pay better.

Communicate and Give Praise

Communication is the single greatest tool that we have at our disposal as employers. Employees want to feel connected, informed, and appreciated. It is our role to set the tone in the practice, but also to publicly praise outstanding performance.

Why not try a quick daily morning meeting (10-15 minutes) with front office staff members to review the patients scheduled and any problems that are foreseen? Employees want to understand why they are being asked to perform various tasks, i.e., collecting money before the patient is seen, rescheduling a patient due to financial concerns, etc. This can smooth out the day and set everyone up for success.

Build Medical Practice Team Cohesion

Employees want to feel connected to the practice culture and valued by leadership. Look for opportunities to build team cohesiveness both in the day-to-day activities and the occasional extracurricular team-building opportunity.

Whether planning a holiday party or a volunteer project that everyone can participate in, remember that physician and APP participation is key to building that team spirit.

Incentivize Front Office Staff to Achieve Goals

Developing an incentive program can be relatively easy and very effective in motivating staff and keeping them invested in excelling at their job. As an example, RCM is an extremely important aspect of any successful practice and lends itself to being quantified and measured. A strong incentivization plan will:

  • Set thoughtful goals organized around current performance and desired results
  • Be easily tabulated – too complex and time-consuming and it defeats its purpose
  • Be creative (and don’t have to be too expensive to be effective), i.e., a gift certificate, an afternoon off, a pedicure

Provide Flexible Work Schedules within a Medical Practice

This can be hard to achieve in an appointment-based medical practice, but helping employees achieve a strong Work-Life Balance further enhances their satisfaction and may reduce employee turnover. Try expanded evening or weekend hours that provide time off during the regular work week – something that is appreciated by both staff and patients.

Rethink Performance Feedback

The annual review is becoming a thing of the past. Not only do employees find them obstructive, but feedback has been found to be far more useful when delivered frequently. This can be accomplished through a variety of techniques, i.e., monthly one-on-one meetings, peer review, self-evaluation.

However you provide the feedback to the employee, remember that it is especially beneficial when it includes comments from providers…and patients, if possible.
Provide Opportunities for Career Advancement within the Medical Practice
Employee engagement increases when they see a transparent promotion path and that can be difficult to provide in the relatively flat organization of a medical practice. Through job shadowing, training, and job sharing, an employee becomes more valuable to the organization and provides more flexibility as the inevitable turnover happens.

As we’ve discussed, reducing employee turnover is an ongoing process and Enhanced Revenue Solutions (ERS) is here to provide RCM support that provides stability during times of change.

Contact us today and let us show you how to maximize your RCM and guard against employee turnover disruption.

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