Practice Makes Perfect: Is Training a Priority?
We know the term “practice makes perfect” and we know that providing proper training is essential to the success of any job. So why is it that training and education seem to draw the short straw when it comes to priorities for an organization? In revenue cycle, most of the jobs don’t require a degree and if a candidate has experience that is great, but not a show stopper. Hence the need for training and not just a couple of hours or days. In order to equip the new employees with the knowledge needed to successfully perform the job, a formal training program is a necessity.
What is a formal training program? Having dedicated individuals that perform a standardized training for all employees. Basically, all new and seasoned employees are trained the same way. Training is usually done prior to being placed in the actual job environment and away from the actual job site. The program lasts a couple of days, weeks, or even months and takes place in a computer room or classroom. As with everything else in healthcare, no two formal training programs are alike. Each training program is dependent upon the setup of the organization, the complexity of the job, the needs of the department, and the available resources (time, money, learning materials, and space). So, what are the steps in developing a formal training program?
Top Level Support
Since a formal training program requires dedicated staff, learning materials, and space, top level support is needed for approval of budgeted dollars. The training program will need to be tailored based on the amount of funding provided. This is where the justification makes all the difference. To gain top level support, a well thought out proposal needs to be presented. A proposal that includes a CAB story; Condition, Action, Benefit. The current condition, for example, high turnover rate, increased denials, low accuracy rate, decreased productivity. Be sure to provide the data…numbers don’t lie and will tell the story for you. The action needed to improve upon the current condition, meaning implementing a formal training program. And the benefit to the organization of the action, having a formal training program for example, produces a lower turnover rate, decreased denials, higher accuracy rate, and increased productivity, all leading to an increased clean claim rate and faster cash in the door for the organization.
Build the Team
After gaining support and funding, it is time to build the team. This can be done from reallocating existing staff from various departments and teams or by adding new positions. These individuals should be subject matter experts in the area that they will be training people on. They must be skilled in interacting and communicating with others, possess patience, and be even tempered. Being able to teach others is certainly a talent. It is important to find people with the talent and skills needed to prepare the new employees for success in their jobs.
Develop Standardized Training
Once the team is built, now the standardized training needs to be developed. The method and materials used for training will depend on the actual job. The training should include all steps in the documented processes for each job as well as any systems used to perform the job. All performance expectations should be clearly presented in training and vetted for complete understanding by each employee. Some different methods to include in the training are interactive classroom sessions, online courses, role playing, pre and post tests, manuals, scripting, shadowing, and “hands on”.
Train and Retrain
The secret to a successful training program is to train and retrain. All employees need to train initially and then periodically be given a refresher. With the federal, state, and local government regulations as well as the numerous payer requirements constantly changing, it is imperative that the training program keep every employee, whether new or seasoned, up to date with the changes. Checklists should be created and used in direct observations of the employees to evaluate the transfer of knowledge from the training program. Proactively monitoring employee performance allows for real time feedback and immediate modifications to the way the job is being performed. To prevent an adversarial situation, the trainer should be from outside of the team and/or department and not someone who the employee reports to or works with every day. The trainers should be perceived as advocates for the employees and not “big brother’s watching” just trying to get someone in trouble.
There is a direct correlation between training and employee performance. They are equipped with the knowledge of what to do, they understand the job expectations, and are confident in their abilities. Happy employees are productive employees. Organizations can only win by making a formal training program a priority. After all, practice makes perfect!
BridgeFront offers industry-leading out-of-the-box courses to accelerate revenue cycle for hundreds of healthcare organizations. To access a free set of these courses, click HERE and enter the code: revcycle.