What Gets Measured Gets Done
We all want to be a top performing revenue cycle operation. So, how do you get there and then once there, how do you stay there? Usually you have a plan that includes setting goals, defining objectives, identifying metrics, and reporting results. The plan is the easy part, putting the plan into action is the hard part. Where do you begin?
The first step is to set clear expectations for your team. Establishing SMART goals for your team enables you to answer the “what” and “why” questions for your staff and gives them a sense of direction and purpose. When goals are “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely”, they are easier for the staff to understand and hopefully attain.
The second step is to brainstorm what tasks need to be performed to reach the goal. Defining the objectives answers the “how” question for your staff. If the goal is to decrease the average speed to answer for the centralized scheduling line to 30 seconds, how can that be accomplished? What is your strategy? Thinking of people, processes, and technology, one objective might be to evaluate the current volume vs. current staffing. When determine, based on the chosen productivity standards, how many additional employees are needed to hit the goal. A second objective might be to review the current workflow and identify any process improvement opportunities for increased efficiencies. A third objective might be to assess the current phone system and scheduling application for any enhanced functionality that would help in decreasing call times. The faster a scheduler can finish a call, the faster he/she can take another call, hence decreasing the average speed to answer.
The third step is measuring and monitoring performance. There are metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), benchmarks, best practice standards, etc. that can be used to measure performance for an organization. The numbers tell the real story of the work being done in a department. Numbers don’t lie. Without the data, a department cannot identify areas of opportunity, monitor performance, and strategically plan to improve. Staff performance needs to be measured and monitored daily with reporting at all levels: hospital, department, team, and employee. Providing the data at the employee level is the secret to driving individual performance. Not only does it show them the impact that their own performance has on the goal, but it also provides a way for the manager to hold the staff accountable.
Professional organizations that support healthcare revenue cycle leaders such as the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM), which is focused on the front end of the revenue cycle, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), which is primarily focused on the back end of the revenue cycle, have published their own set of KPIs to equip healthcare leaders with the measurements important to our industry. NAHAM’s AccessKeys® and HFMA’s MAP Keys® are revenue cycle performance metrics that allow healthcare leaders to benchmark their operations against their peers.
The last step in the plan to becoming one of the top performing revenue cycle operations is twofold: reporting the results and re-evaluation. It is important to share the results timely, whether good or bad, with all parties involved to keep them engaged and focused on the goal. The results also provide direction for re-evaluation of the plan. This is the time to celebrate what went well and address what did not go so well. The “plan” may need to be tweaked a time or two in order to reach the goal but it is important to remember what gets measured gets done.