Are You Managing Your phones or Are They Managing You?

CallCenter79999Patients expectations for service are always increasing and call center training is a crucial part of the puzzle. Improving performance management and training best practices in the call center is key to keeping your patients happy. Here are six steps for improving you call center:

1) Revamp the hiring and training process:

One of the best methods to uplift your call center quality is by improving the service levels. Effective training and coaching practices can make your agents highly proficient and at the same time will help them in aligning their individual goals. However, this is only possible if you hire reps with the right set of skills and thereafter train them to excel in their role.

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10 Questions an Employer Should Not Ask

Job postings

According to the BC Human Rights Code (Discrimination in employment advertisements), you must not publish job postings or advertisements that give preference to:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What is your political affiliation?
  • What is your race, color or ethnicity?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children or plan to?
  • Are you in debt?
  • Do you social drink or smoke?

The interview

The Interview

The Interview

Once you are ready to begin your interviews, there are a few key points to keep in mind when designing questions. You need to ensure your interview process is not intentionally or unintentionally asking questions on prohibited grounds. It is important to describe the job and requirements in a way that gives all applicants a chance to apply. For example, if a position requires regular overtime and has an irregular schedule, do not ask:

“Do you have children?” as you would be assuming a person with children could not work longer hours.
If a job requires heavy lifting, do not ask:
“Do you have a bad back or any medical issues?” as you might be discriminating against a candidate with a disability.

Checking references

It is important to note that you cannot ask questions that are illegal during any stage of the recruitment process including your interview or while conducting reference checks. For example, just as you cannot ask a candidate about a disability in the interview process, you cannot then ask their former employer, “How many sick days did they take last year?” However, you can ask if they were reliable and punctual.
While there are many points to cover in preparation for an interview, no point is more important than knowing which questions are considered illegal and are simply NOT allowed to be asked during your interview.
There are numerous state and federal antidiscrimination laws designed to assure that employers hire based upon skill, rather than stereotypes. Therefore, there are some things an interviewer isn’t allowed to ask. How do you know what’s fair game? Here are some questions that should raise red flags.

1. “What’s your race?”
It is illegal for an employer to ask you questions about race or skin color. Unless appearance is a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) – for example, if you’re applying for a modeling job- you cannot be required to submit a photo with an application.

Fair questions: None. An employment application may include a space where you voluntarily indicate your race.

2. “What is your national origin?”
An interviewer cannot ask if you are a U.S. citizen, where you were born, or remark upon your accent. Unless a business case can be provided, a company can’t specify that English be the only language spoken on the job.

Fair questions: “Are you eligible to work in the U.S. Could you, once employed, submit documentation to that effect?” Companies now require all employees to fill out an I-9 form, in order to confirm that you’re a citizen or resident who is eligible to work. If fluency in a language other than English is a job requirement, an employer may ask how you learned that language.

3. “What is your maiden name?”
An interviewer can’t discriminate on the basis of gender or marital status. Recruiters may not ask different questions of female and male applicants or of married and unmarried women. It’s also inappropriate for an employer to ask if you’re planning to have a family or have young children.

Fair questions: An employer can ask for your full name or whether you’ve worked under another name – in order to check your employment history. Interviewers may inquire about childcare and other family issues by asking: “Where do you see yourself in five years? What hours are you available to work? Do you have other responsibilities that may interfere with your ability to meet the requirements of the job- such as overtime or travel?”

4. “How old are you?”
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects people over the age of 40, who work in companies with more than 20 employees, from employment discrimination. Employers may specify an age limit for a position only in rare cases where it can be proven that age is a.

In all other cases, an interviewer may not ask when you were born, when you graduated from high school (since most students graduate at age 17 or 18), or any other questions from which your age may easily be determined. Individuals under age 40 aren’t covered by the ADEA, but many states offer them some protection.

5. “Do you have any disabilities?”
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may not discriminate against a qualified candidate who is disabled, and must make “reasonable accommodations” for physically or mentally impaired employees.

Fair questions: “Can you perform the basic functions of this position with or without accommodation?”

6. “What is your religion?”
There is no reason for an employer to ask you about your religion or about any holidays you observe.

7. “Have you ever been arrested?”
You are innocent until proven guilty; therefore, it is illegal for an interviewer to ask if you’ve ever been arrested.

Fair questions: Employment applications often include questions about felony convictions, along with a disclaimer saying that a conviction won’t necessarily remove you from consideration.

In accordance with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) policy, employers must weigh a variety of elements when factoring convictions into hiring decisions. These include the nature and severity of the offense, the time that has elapsed, and whether the offense has any relation to the position advertised.

8. “What type of military discharge did you receive?”
An employer may not ask whether you received an honorable or dishonorable discharge.

Fair questions: The interviewer is allowed to inquire about your rank when discharged and discuss the skills you gained while in the military.

9. “Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?”
Questions about your financial status, whether you own a home, or have previously had wages garnished are off-limits.

Fair questions: If good credit is a requirement of the job, a company is within its rights to perform a credit check.

10. “Do you belong to any organizations?”
It’s inappropriate for an interviewer to ask whether you are affiliated with or are a member of any political, social, or religious groups- including unions.

Fair questions: An interviewer may ask you if you’re a member of a professional organization, like the American Bar Association.

How to React to Unfair Questions

Try and determine what type of information an employer is looking to receive with her questions. For example, if an interviewer asks if you have children, you may deduce that she wants to know if you’d be missing work often to care for them. You might simply answer that you have no problem meeting the positions attendance requirements.

7 Steps for a Successful Hire

By: Nicola Hawkinson DNP, RNFA, RN

7stepsblog375238_largeFor employers, filling a job vacancy is a daunting and time consuming task. Initially, the employer should be asking themselves: why is there a need? Is there a (n) new hire, expansion, increased volume, new practitioner, replacement? No matter what your reason is you should treat the hiring process as a key business practice.

  • Identifying the Need

A well written job description serves a multitude of purposes and the better they are written, the more useful they will be. There is a lot of power in defining roles. Think about athletes and how each member of the team functions both independently and dependently at the same time. As much as each athlete can function well on their own, they still need their teammates to bring the team to victory. This is because each member has a clearly defined role and knows what their job function is and how that function influences other teammates. The same idea can be attributed to the workplace.

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Advice For A New Physician

Advice for a New Physician
If you’re a new physician looking for employment it can be a daunting task. All of a sudden you are thrust into the job market and knowing where to invest your time can be tricky. You don’t want to be forced to take a job you don’t particularly like, or be stuck with no viable options. The best way to conduct a job search in the current market is to do your research and think outside the box.

1. Cast a Wider Net
Some physicians are overwhelmed by the variety of choices and unaccustomed to negotiating for a job, new doctors often wind up in positions that are a bad fit for them, and they move on after just a few years.

A common mistake is only focusing your job search in one location. That narrow approach could force you into a job you don’t really like. Think about it: you’re so focused on just the location of a prospective job that you forget to zero-in on more important things like the salary and benefits. Does this job have a lot of on-call time? Is there room for growth? Concentrating on one aspect of a job leaves you open to disappointment in the long run. Your dream job may not be in the location you think it should be.

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How to Prepare For A Healthcare Interview

How to Prepare For a Healthcare Interview
Nicola Hawkinson DNP, RNFA, RN

The biggest mistake in interviewing is not being fully prepared. Understand that interviewing is a skill; preparation and practice enhance the quality of that skill. Preparation can make the difference between getting an offer and getting rejected.
There is no one “best” way to prepare for an interview. Rather, there are specific and important strategies to enhance one’s chances for interview success. Every interview is a learning experience, so learning that takes place during the preparation and actual interview process is useful for future interviews.
Initial preparation requires recent assessment of skills, interests, values, and accomplishments; a re-assessment and updating of one’s resume; and research on the targeted company/organization and position. Preparation also includes actual practice of typical and targeted interview questions. Final preparation includes details of dress and appearance, knowledge of the location of the interview, what to expect, and protocols for follow-up.

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Medical Office Compliance and Risk Management

You may have not planned your practice around compliance and risk management, but you know what they say? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Compliance programs are new to many private practices. What does a compliance program mean for your practice? The program is meant to be a series of checks and balances to ensure the practice is meeting standards. Why do you I need a compliance program?

A compliance program can prove to anyone that practitioners are making a reasonable attempt to comply with all regulatory requirements and have established the necessary procedures to do so. One reason why you might need a compliance program is to ensure staff applies the appropriate billing guidelines correctly. Medical documentation is important from a financial point of view. If a healthcare provider forgets to write something down in a patient’s chart, whether it regards to treatment, surgery, or a minor procedure, the facility will not be paid for it. Without documentations there is not proof that a patient received any services. Documentation and easy access to medical records can ensure patient confidentiality as well as a patient’s life in dire situation. If standards of care are being met then there will be thorough documentation. An important aspect of documentation comes from setting a standard for employees to follow including:

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8 Habits Health Care Practices Should Learn from the Navy SEALS

Healthcare practices can adopt certain behaviors from the military to help not only boost the morale of the office, but also create a more engaged working environment. Follow these eight habits for your practice to operate at the optimal level:
1. Be loyal.
Loyalty to the team starts at the top. Loyalty is about leading by example, providing your team unconditional support, and never throwing a team member under the bus. Member of your team will be loyal to your practice if they feel like they are being appreciated.
2. Put others before yourself.
Go to work every day with the intention to make your team better and offer help to those who need it. People who become overworked and overtired are not productive members of your team. The success of the practice should be a priority for all employees.
3. Be reflective.
Understanding what works for you and what doesn’t is often underappreciated in the workplace. You’re expected to do things according to the way of the practice and that’s fine, but you should reflect on how your behavior and adaptability affect your overall performance.

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Scaling up a Surgical Practice

Adding more doctors to your practice might be a smart move for smaller practices. Yes, the added cost can be expensive but for most doctors it is well worth it. Smaller practices have struggled more and more recently. It is harder to keep doctors in smaller practices when the payoffs are not as big but the responsibilities are greater. You might be stuck deciding what path to take to grow your practice; here are four ways to scale up:
1) Satellite Offices
Scaling up the practices can occur a few different ways. One way would be opening satellite offices as a means to create more revenue and patient. Making the practice more accessible to patients will help you engage new patients you wouldn’t have seen otherwise as well as utilizing more doctors. Life at a larger practiced is more varied. In a big practice, physicians might spend time pursuing special interests or research. Options for part-time work are more available at a larger practice where responsibilities aren’t piled on between one or two physicians. The larger practice setting can also provide economic benefits for the physician.
2) Updating Technology
Utilizing EMR systems and updating software regularly will help with patient flow and wait times. The more organized the practice is, especially a larger office, the more patients can be seen. Implementing new technology can be stressful but if you are dedicated to growing the practice you and your staff must be able to adapt. Practices that are most successful are the most adaptable to change.
3) Adding Ancillary Services
Are you commonly outsourcing an ancillary service that fits with your current and potential patient population? Integrating services needed by your inbound and outbound referrals provides you with a patient-centered continuum of care with the goal of improving continuity of care, compliance and outcomes.
4) Broaden the Types of Specialists in the Practice
Thinking outside the box will help the practice achieve success. Giving patients the option of alternative treatment plans is becoming more popular as patients have greater access to knowledge about treatment options from online resources.
Whatever route you choose to scale up your practice, remember it is important to know that these changes take time. Whether you plan to add more physician, satellite offices or ancillary services each step to grow the practice will ultimately make your practice stronger and more profitable for the future.

Your Front Desk Staff Are Your Flight Navigators

Can your front desk be a profit center for your practice? Yes, but there are instances where physicians may not know what is happening out in the waiting room while they are taking care of patients. Any practice will have some bumps in the road with employees, but physicians must be conscious about checking in with every member of their team. When there is a lack of communication between the physician and staff, patients will feel the negative impact. How well the front desk operates could make or break your practice. The front desk is the first in line to a patient’s access to care making it one of many important elements in patient satisfaction. The front desk staff are the navigators of your practice and staying in tune with them to see how the practice is operating on a day to day basis not only keeps patients happy but helps retain them as well.

First impressions count–When a patient walks into the waiting room they are either walking into a warm and inviting environment or a stark and cold one. How you present your practice to the patients starts way before you see them in the exam room. For the receptionist a patient’s visit starts with the same, and sometimes monotonous, procedures like asking for insurance information, paperwork and answering questions. Receptionists may also be responsible for answering the phones as well, adding extra stress to an already busy schedule. Even though there might be high call volume and patients in the waiting room, this is not an excuse for the front desk to act exasperated by patients. If the practice is large, this might be a good time to suggest hiring candidates specifically for phone triage. If the practice is small, create a way to delegate responsibilities at the front desk. Instead of having all receptionists answer the phones make it only one or two people’s job. If the office runs smoothly patients are much more likely to feel comfortable about the capabilities of the physician. Some physicians may not feel like their staff is a direct reflection of them and this is a common mistake. You might value patient satisfaction as a physician, but if the front desk is doing a mediocre job patients will think that you must not care as well. Patients are much more likely to return to an office where receptionists, medical assistants, nurses and physicians work well with one another. If a patient is frustrated after dealing with disgruntled employees this will take away from important time spent with the physician. What can be done to remedy this?

For starters, physicians need to be aware of what’s going on in every aspect of their practice. Having weekly staff meetings where you discuss proper protocols for face-to-face and telephone communications with patients are a must. You’d be surprised by how many practices do not take the time to do this and it shows. Schedule one day a week where staff is able to come in 15-20mins before the days begins and use that time to have a meeting. This should be something that is understood by both current and prospective employees. You need people who want to be a part of a team and who respect that you are staying on top of what goes on in the office. Another way to ensure the practice is functioning well is by having a formal orientation for new employees making sure there is a set time for training at the start of employment. Training could take two weeks or possibly more depending on the job responsibilities. During this time period new employees should have ample time to learn what is expected of them from them professionally and how to carry out job responsibilities in an effective and timely manner.

Following-up with patients means much more than the physician calling after the original appointment. It means staying on top of follow-up appointments and referrals. It also means keeping in touch with patients. Receptionists should be responsible for collecting both phone numbers and emails to reach patients. Technology is much more advanced than it was even a decade ago and using it to your advantage will be beneficial. Sending out e-newsletters introducing new physicians to your patients or services your office has to offer is one way of keeping patients in the loop. Healthcare is a service industry so take the time to make sure your staff is cultivating long-term patient relationships.

If your practice is being managed properly then learning and professional development will be valued. All employees, whether they are receptionists, medical assistants, nurses or physicians, should undergo training for how to respond and engage with patients. The waiting room might just be the start of a patient’s visit, but it says a lot about how the office runs on a daily basis. If there are major issues in the waiting room physicians are unaware of that makes the patient think that there is very little communication between the physicians and the receptionists. When all employees are on the same page regarding how to care for patients then you will see the organization flow from check-in, treatment and follow-up.

You Can’t Manage What Your Don’t Measure

Managing effectively is reliant upon understanding how your business is performing. Knowing if your employees are performing up to par or if the business is bringing in revenue does not just happen overnight. Whether you are looking to measure job performance, finances or compliance it is never too late to start. As a business owner establishing the protocols to measure these aspects of your company should be put into place as soon as possible.

Your business may be in need of organizational change. Starting with the hiring process you can use performance metrics to define job responsibilities and communicate expectations. Using software to measure the incoming and outgoing calls in the office can help you stay on top of how quickly the phones are being answered and if people are being transferred to the correct employee. You can tell a lot about the business by how well the telephone communication is working.

The office atmosphere is an important factor for long-term success. High employee retention rates and productivity are signs that there is effective management in place. Metrics are not able to tell an employer how to fix a problem, they can highlight where improvements are needed but coming up with ways to mend the problem comes from the employer. Metrics alone cannot make employees work harder or more efficiently, but they are great for seeing what is working well and what is not.

Using metrics as a way to balance your business can have lasting effects if you are using them properly. Evaluation of job performance and management is crucial. How are you going to evaluate current systems you have in place? Compliance is one way to assess how well your metrics are working. Do the employees and employers comply with financial and personal metrics? When people are not compliant there might be a lack of motivation. Management’s responsibility is to help people reach specific goals. Find out what motivates people to work while keeping in line with performance criteria you have in place.

Managers have to stay on top of how well their business is functioning. Measuring job performance, financial gains and losses and job specific responsibilities will make it difficult for outliers to slip through the cracks. Metrics allow you to be in control over daily operations and reach long-term goals.

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