Together and Yet Separate

I was at a Workshop last week and observed a disturbing and yet familiar sight. This was a group of hospital administrative workers representing admissions and billing. And there were a number of facilities represented.

What was interesting was that the room by its nature was divided; Registration on the left and Billing on the right. In fact, as you watched the speakers you could see the two groups respond separately to the questions. One astute facilitator caught this and dug a little deeper (and a little off topic) and we found that while conceptually they recognized the challenges that each faced and their role in each others business; there was still a sense of, “if only they (pick your department) would do their job better…”

Now as a leader, I have to sit in the back of the room observing this and ask my-self, “where has our team building gone wrong? What can we do so that these departments have a better and more empathetic understanding of the role they play in each others workload?

What is interesting about this is I have been seeing this dynamic played out and discussed for over 25 years at the healthcare meetings I have participated in. And, the experts say that by understanding the role that registration plays in the ultimate payment of the bill by insurers and patients organizations can reap big rewards in terms of lowered cost of rework, follow up calls to verify information and processing claims that just have incorrect information on them.

One example is verifying insurance. One consultant I know did an audit a few years back, where over twenty percent of the initial claims were being denied, due to poor insurance information. As she dug deeper many of these claims had photo copies of the correct insurance cards in the file. They just had not put it into the billing system. This seemingly little thing results in the need to spend more money to correct and re-bill the claim.

These are some of the lowest paid people in the organization and yet what they do has a very large impact on the financial outcomes that the organization experiences. So what is a leader to do? Let me suggest A couple of things.

1.     Training – It is important to provide initial training so that staff has a basic level of competence. I have observed that we need refresher training on a regular basis. My friend Coach Dave talks about how we often learn the same lessons over and over; even when we have spent good money to learn the lesson the first time.

2.      Cross training – I don’t know that billers need to be able to register a patient or vice a versa but, by spending time with each other reviewing the impact their actions have on each other could eliminate a lot.  (What does this cost a couple dozen bagels and a carafe of coffee)?

While this is obviously specific to healthcare, I am willing to bet this dynamic plays out in most industries. What will you do tomorrow to get your teams working together?

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