In the midst of the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the selfless efforts of medical professionals who are continuing to show up on the front lines for patients in need will undoubtedly be remarked in history books for years to come. So too will the cooperative effort of our nation’s workforce, who are sacrificing in many ways to help to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infection. One of the key aspects of this effort, especially for healthcare workers who are not on the clinical side, is adapting to the necessity of working remotely — in most cases, from home.
Many hospital revenue cycle teams are among those learning how to adapt to these new challenges. But they need to keep the operational infrastructure of medical facilities running smoothly, as medical teams do their crucial work.
Our mid-revenue cycle management solutions were designed to work seamlessly with decentralized teams and remote users, and we have several clients who have operated this way for years. Vitalware itself also has a large percentage of remote workers. With that idea in mind, we gathered together a few key insights drawn from our collective experience to share with you. We also invite you to reach out to us if we can be of help in setting up, or making adjustments to, your tools or processes to meet these demands.
We know that coders love printing things. If you’re someone who has always preferred working with printed documents — spreadsheets, post-its, or other “analog” information sources, this is the time to figure out how to bring those data sources into your workflows and into the tool or system you’re operating with. When teams are spread out and working from individual spreadsheets or data sources, only to upload them later, it creates a lag in information. The more your team can work from a single, centralized solution that is updating in real-time, the fewer corrections and rework you’ll need to do.
The same goes for reference materials: working from books or other offline resources is prohibitive when everyone is spread out physically. Now’s the time to guide users to online resources you have available, and for taking steps to bring favorite “offline” sources online. As above, it’s ideal to have a centralized, authoritative tool that the entire team utilizes for references, so that output is consistent. Use a reference tool that is updated in a timely manner, so you always have the most recent information – this is even more pertinent with the fast-evolving coding surrounding COVID-19.
Now is the time to review and standardize as many processes as you can, and embed them in your revenue cycle workflows and tools. Ideally, your workflow engine will enable “next steps” to be kicked off automatically, along with notifications to those who need to do the work, and attach any documentation necessary to complete the task. There’s significant added benefit for creating these workflows and automation: you can then easily track and audit work items: see what’s underway and what’s been done; and how much time discrete steps are taking. The good news? Those who take the initiative to set up more complete workflows and tracking under these extraordinary circumstances will experience benefits long past the current emergency.
Managers have to adapt to find ways of staying on top of productivity, without falling into the trap of “remote micromanaging.” Robust reporting capability that gives managers a daily briefing of progress by their teams and team members can help get the best effort out of everyone. You may want to build specific reports that you can review and share with the team so collaborative management can be done efficiently and easily. Remote work, especially with families present, can often mean that schedules get decentralized too – with the right reporting, you can keep the whole team in sync, and you may even see boosts in productivity. Don’t be too surprised: many teams that have adopted or integrated work from home options have achieved productivity boosts.
Of course, yours is not the only team going remote at this time. Your vendors and their personnel are also adapting on the fly to this crisis. We recommend reaching out to your vendors and discussing support processes — working with them and planning ahead to assure that service gaps won’t frustrate your efforts to keep your operation running smoothly.
On that last note, we again want to extend an invitation to reach out to us if we can be of help in any way to assist you in preparing for, or managing-through, this unprecedented time. As noted, our teams have experience working remotely and our solutions are built to be accessed from anywhere. They provide teams with authoritative and complete data sources, up-to-the-minute reference and coding information, and robust workflow and reporting capabilities. We are eager to do our part to help healthcare providers do their very best work in the midst of this crisis.
If you have ideas for ways to make remote work easier, please feel free to share them with us.