Fallback, Fill-in, and Backup. No, that is not the call to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. Although at times, working in a SNF business office can feel like a wave-upon-wave series of assaults on what would otherwise be a normal, methodical day of blissful productivity. Interruptions, urgent requests from the corporate office, and unanticipated call-ins by other office staff, even scheduled absences can be disruptive. But retreat is not the answer. Substitute is the better option - making sure that others are trained to cover the important aspects of the job.
Fallback – Training back-ups is critical
In preparation for this week’s blog, I interviewed Ms. Kimberly Sturm, primeCLAIMS Senior Project Manager. We discussed what business office managers (BOMs) can and should do in anticipation of those times when a member of the office staff calls in or is on maternity leave or vacation. “Cross-train and refresh is what I have advised administrators and office managers throughout my career as a consultant and regional accounts receivable manager,” advises Kimberly. “This is a particular priority for payroll and billing followed by accounts payable, patient trust reconciliation, and other office functions. It seems that facilities don’t have the time before such an absence takes place, but when it does and deadlines have to be met, training happens and sometimes haphazardly. Unfortunately, it is usually long after uncompleted critical tasks have stacked up.” When Kimberly was a regional A/R manager for a large multi-facility SNF operator, one of her office managers, a 26 year old, had a heart attack and was out for 10 weeks. “I had to do the payroll, because the facility did not have a backup,” she explains.
Fill-in – Identify and prioritize
What are the absolute essential office functions that must be performed every day without exception and who do you train? At a minimum, stay on top of the tasks needed to process claims and payroll. Each facility is different with staff members often wearing more than one hat. Unless specifically dictated by corporate policy, the facility administrator or executive director identifies those who should be cross trained.
Fortunately, with back office automation, such as payroll, billing, and accounts payable, training is much simpler with fewer opportunities for errors. Since automation simplifies many office functions, office managers can train with confidence. For example, with a clearinghouse to process claims automatically, converting revenues to cash is easy to learn and manage every day. How does a clearinghouse help? A clearinghouse can furnish all the tools needed to manage claims, DDE, track ADR status, managed eligibility, automate claims submission, plus manage denials-in one system with one log-in. Even though there is still the need for hands-on entries which requires training, it is much easier with claims automation. (Caution: This brings up an important point: with automation comes security. A key part of security is individual log-in credentials. A word from Kimberly, do NOT share log-in credentials.)
Backup – refreshers
“I recommend that even after you’ve trained your office substitutes, that you regularly conduct refresher sessions,” recommends Kimberly. “They don’t have to be long sessions and BOMs can also relate any system changes. Also, have easy-to-understand instructions with screen shots and brief ‘how-to’s’ handy, especially how to access critical files.”