MedHQ Human Resources Tip of the Month: Encouraging an Active Lifestyle

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the warm, sunny weather! In this installment of our monthly blog series, the human resources experts at MedHQ share ideas and best practices for making the most of the season – while encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle.

Whether you need to lose weight, or you want to improve your mood, regular exercise can help. The results are determined by the amount of effort you put in. Engage in activities that you enjoy, and your body will repay you:

  • Healthy heart and lungs
  • Strong bones
  • Flexible, strong muscles and joints
  • Weight loss
  • More energy and endurance

In addition to exercise, it is also important to maintain a healthy weight, and a balanced diet. Simple dietary changes can lead to incredible results. Here are some examples of dietary adjustments:

  • Implement red, dark-green and orange veggies into your diet
  • Cut fat and calories by switching to skim or low-fat dairy
  • Check food labels for added sugars
  • Eat lean-white meat instead of red meat
  • Pay attention to serving sizes
  • Stop eating when satisfied

When you are more active, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel. Aim to slowly add to your workouts so you can better meet your goals. Try these tips to step up your game:

  • Go from brisk walking to jogging
  • Swim or bike faster than your previous workout
  • Add pushups and squats twice a week
  • Walk an extra 15 minutes more per week
  • Mix in new ideas to change it up, such as playing catch, martial arts or gardening

Click here to read the full newsletter which includes an easy-to-read calorie/activity chart that features calories burned during moderate or vigorous physical activity.

 

MedHQ Attending Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management Execs at Upcoming Becker’s Conference

MedHQ will be among the exhibitors at Becker’s 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine, set for June 22-24, 2017 at Swissôtel, Chicago. This exclusive spine, orthopedic and pain management-focused ASC conference brings together surgeons, physician leaders, administrators and ASC business and clinical leaders to discuss how to improve surgery center operations and bottom lines, and how to manage challenging clinical, business, and financial issues.

“This is an important show for our industry and we’re pleased to be participating again this year,” says MedHQ CEO Tom Jacobs. “We welcome the opportunity to make new connections and talk to ASC leaders about the issues they’re facing and how we can help.”

MedHQ is the leading provider of HR, accounting, and back-office administrative services focused specifically on the ambulatory surgery center market.

Are you headed to this year’s show? Stop by Booth #47 and say hello to the MedHQ team including Tom Jacobs, Laura Gifford, Cody Connelly, and Dhara Raval.

 

CEO Jacobs Selected to Speak at Illinois Ambulatory Surgery Center Association Meeting

Tom Jacobs, MedHQ CEO, has been selected to speak at an education session sponsored by the new Illinois Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (IASCA) on June 22, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The IASCA meeting will be held in conjunction with Becker’s 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine.

In addition to Jacob’s presentation focusing on the benefits of outsourcing human resources, the program will feature information from IASCA on plans for the new association and a presentation by Scott Becker, JD, CPA, Partner, McGuireWoods, Founder & Publisher of Becker’s Healthcare.

As co-founder of MedHQ, Jacobs brings an enthusiasm for transforming the healthcare employment model through more effective people management. For over a decade, Tom has worked daily with ASC administrators nationwide to improve operations, reduce costs and reduce their employer risk. His own healthcare background includes work as an ASC administrator, which helps him understand and relate to the issues facing his clients.

IASCA is aimed at serving as a united voice for Illinois-based ASCs. For information on IASCA, call (847) 517-7225.

MedHQ Human Resources Tip of the Month: How to Stay Productive at Work During Allergy Season

In a new monthly blog series, the human resources experts at MedHQ will share tips, best practices, and strategies for maintaining a happy, healthy workforce. In this edition, our team tackles seasonal allergies including symptoms, prevention, treatment, and staying productive at work.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies may contribute to feeling unproductive and uncomfortable, especially at work. Depending on what part of the country you live in, spring allergies can start as early as February and last until early summer. Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, a mild winter can cause plants to pollinate early and a rainy spring can cause plants and mold to grow, causing allergy symptoms to blossom as well. Symptoms such as sneezing, sinus congestion, and eye irritation can disrupt workplace productivity, and compromise sanitation.

The top six tips for preventing, managing, and treating your seasonal allergies to help you stay productive at work include:

  • Keep windows and doors closed during allergy season
  • Install a good air filter at home
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves as much as possible
  • Diagnose and repair any moisture problems in your home
  • Use dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows
  • Keep your pet out of the bedroom at night

Allergies will affect everyone differently. Depending on the severity of your allergies, some medical treatment options are: over-the-counter antihistamine medications, nasal sprays, and sinus decongestants. Actively using the medications, and engaging in the tips above will help improve comfort and maintain productivity.

Be aware of work-related factors that can be difficult to avoid regardless of the season. Stress doesn’t cause allergies, but it can make your allergies worse. Allergy medications can also contribute to fatigue. If taking allergy medication while at work, be sure to take a non-drowsy medication to stay alert. Again, be sure to talk to your doctor to determine the medication that’s best for you.

MedHQ is the premier provider of outsourced human resource strategies for surgical facilities. To learn more about our services, click here. Contact us today to connect directly with a member of our team.

New White Paper by MedHQ Streamlines Physician Credentialing

Bringing order and structure to the process of physician credentialing is one of the most meticulous tasks ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) face on the administrative side of their business. To help organize the effort, a new white paper from MedHQ titled, Overcoming Four Challenges Surgery Centers Face in Physician Credentialing, outlines tips for addressing four challenges associated with this critical element of successful ASC staffing and operation.

A leading provider of human resources, accounting, and back-office administrative services focused specifically on the ASC market, MedHQ helps centers improve revenue, lower costs, and take time-consuming tasks off the plates of administrators, allowing them to focus on the high-value priorities of running and managing surgery centers.

“The process of physician credentialing is very exacting work, and it is critically important,” says MedHQ CEO Tom Jacobs. “Every day, patients are putting their lives in the hands of their doctors, and credentialing is a key element of the accountability that comes with a physician’s job and an ASC’s responsibility. Our new white paper leverages our experience to share steps leaders can take to overcome credentialing challenges.”

MedHQ’s HR/Medical Staff Services Consultant Laura Gifford helps physician organizations nationwide navigate the credentialing process. “Proper credentialing is vital to the success of an ASC,” Gifford says, “for instance, Medicare requires the right credentialing of physicians as a condition of reimbursement. It is also a critical element in meeting the reporting, audit and accreditation requirements of The Joint Commission.”

Gifford uses her deep expertise as she addresses the four challenges inherent in physician credentialing including the initial credentialing process, securing peer references, documenting a physician’s work history, and keeping credentials current.

For surgery centers, the key to success with physician credentialing lies in the diligent surfacing of required details, followed by careful tracking as those details evolve and change. In addition to continually tracking and updating credentials throughout the year, Gifford recommends engaging an outside expert to audit centers’ credentials records periodically. This assurance helps prepare the center for The Joint Commission Survey or accreditation review.

ASC leadership interested in more tips and recommendations for streamlining the physician credentialing process can download the full white paper here, or contact MedHQ to schedule a no-obligation credentials audit.

First Webinar in MedHQ Series Focuses on Affordable Care Act

The first broadcast in the new MedHQ webinar series, “How Rumored Changes to the Affordable Care Act Could Impact Your ASC Employees,” MedHQ shared insights and quick reactions to the Congressional “repeal and replace” plan released less than 24 hours before the webinar aired.

                                                                                                                                                               

Moderated by Tom Jacobs, CEO of MedHQ, the discussion focused on the latest information available on a situation that is still very much in flux.

“Our goal is to help ambulatory surgery center (ASC) employers plan ahead for possible updates to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), one of the greatest drivers of business change in HR today,” Jacobs said. PPACA is commonly referred to as ACA, or Obamacare.

Jacobs explained that while a full repeal of the ACA cannot be accomplished through the current budget reconciliation process, a budget reconciliation bill can address provisions that directly relate to budgetary issues — specifically, federal spending and taxation, which cover many areas of impact for surgery centers.

A former ASC administrator himself, Jacobs shared several key takeaways based on his research and interpretation of the just-released plan. For example:

  • The proposed bill would significantly level the playing field for the self-employed – i.e., those that access the individual insurance market. “In the long run, this could pose a challenge for ASCs and other businesses,” he said, “because cheaper, better health insurance is a big part of attracting employees to work at an ASC. With government tax policy changing, to enable things like deductibility of insurance premiums for the self-employed, some employees may feel less loyalty to their employer. Overall, this would have an impact of our ability to recruit and retain staff.”
  • The proposed bill also creates refundable tax credits for those that get their coverage through the individual market, or through COBRA continuation. These are tied to age, with credits of up to $2,000 for those under 30 and up to $4,000 for individuals 60 or older. Current language caps the total refundable tax credit of $14,000 for a family. These tax credits begin to phase out for individuals who make more than $75,000 per year (and couples who make more than $150,000 per year).
  • Another area of the plan that could impact ASC employees proposes changes to rules governing healthcare savings accounts (HSAs). On the table now is an increase in the maximum contribution limit for HSAs to equal the amount of your plan deductible and out-of-pocket limitation. Other changes would allow HSAs to pay for over-the-counter drugs and allow both spouses to make catch-up contributions to the same HSA.
  • Finally, insurance premium cost differences between “grandmothered” plans (those put into place after ACA was signed but before all the rules went into effect) and ACA-compliant plans may impact ASC employees, reflecting core insurance market realities. “Grandmothered plans are lower in cost and a lot of small businesses have used them,” Jacobs said. “One issue, however, is that not all states opted to go that direction.” The proposed Congressional plan favors federal funding for state high-risk pools as a primary strategy to address cost differences.

The purpose of the MedHQ series is to provide continuing education and counsel that will help leaders and decision-makers navigate changes to continuously evolving employment market. The ongoing series will cover changes to ACA, employment regulations and up-to-date industry intelligence related to the drivers of business change in healthcare today, providing healthcare administrators and operations executives with greater access to news and expertise, and a knowledgeable place to turn with questions.

MedHQ Helps ASCs Navigate Through OR Nursing Shortage

A recent study published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, Nursing: Supply and Demand through 2020, reveals that the U.S. economy will create 1.6 million job openings for nurses through 2020. Of the 1.6 million job openings, 700,000 will be newly-created opportunities, while 880,000 will result from retirements.

The study also found that the nursing workforce will face a shortfall of about 200,000 professionals by 2020. “This shortfall impacts the operating rooms (ORs) of ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) all over the country, and is a growing concern for our clients,” said MedHQ CEO Tom Jacobs. “Whether seeking to fill newly-created opportunities or replace retiring nurses, our human resources (HR) professionals are here to help our partner centers solve this issue and locate qualified candidates.”

Three solutions to the OR nursing shortage that ASCs are experiencing:

  1. From relationships with local nursing programs. Jacobs said that, in some parts of the country, it is challenging to find a pool of quality OR nurses to choose from. He recommends reaching out to nursing programs in the area, and establishing a connection with the school. “This can provide your ASC with a major advantage,” said Jacobs. “However, it’s important to understand that this relationship-building is a long-term solution. It won’t solve the issue today.”
  2. Pay for relocation expenses. When looking to fill nursing opening, Jacobs noted it is understandable that the ASC wants to perform a local search only. But, that can greatly limit access to the most qualified candidates. Jacobs recommends ASCs should consider paying the relocation expenses of a candidate that is hired outside of the area.
  3. Establish a great culture at your ASC. There are various ways to accomplish this, but a good start is to provide high-quality health benefits and a competitive salary for OR nurses, said Jacobs. “Overall, make it a great place to work,” he said. “We’re fortunate most of the surgeons and doctors working in our facilities are great people and care deeply about establishing and maintaining a winning culture. And health benefits and competitive salary levels are an important part of the equation.”

If you are looking for a proven and trusted partner to manage your HR department activities, from recruitment and building culture to accounting and consulting, contact MedHQ. We are the premier provider of outsourced HR services and dedicated exclusively to surgery centers.

Email Tom Jacobs or call: 708-492-0519.

10 Ways to Save $10,000 in Human Resources: Address Under-Performing Employees

Keeping human resources (HR) costs in line is critical if ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) hope to stay ahead of the game in the face of falling reimbursements and more competition for patient volume. One way an ASC’s HR department can contribute to maximum efficiency is by properly handling employee relations risk management.

MedHQ has worked with over 70 healthcare facility partners to find HR savings that also deliver the benefits of improving employee satisfaction and reducing risk. Through the process, MedHQ gleaned a host of key findings that guided the creation of the MedHQ 10-Point HR Audit (10-Point HR Audit). The 10-Point HR Audit identifies inefficiencies that, when addressed, can result in six-figure savings for a healthcare facility.

This extensive MedHQ research cites employee discipline as the top HR challenge for surgery center managers, greater than benefits issues, payroll issues, policy advice, and workers compensation. A 2013 MedHQ ASC leadership survey revealed the top discipline issues, with the number one concern being at-work attitude, and attendance and tardiness being the top discipline problem at centers.

It can be challenging to address employer-employee relationship issues, such as properly administrating discipline, conducting annual reviews and keeping abreast of the laws affecting these issues. Law changes with the Affordable Care Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act must be managed and policies must be created to ensure compliance.

“Most ASC administrators lack the strategies required to optimize labor productivity. There have been numerous changes in employment law in the last several years,” said Tom Jacobs, MedHQ CEO. “Without the proper experience, training and practice in handling these issues, centers can find themselves dealing with a high turnover rate and a toxic work environment.”

The risks of ignoring or improperly managing under-performing employees are many and can have significant impact on operating income.

“Centers can expect to have one really difficult employee termination, on average, every seven years,” noted Jacobs.

When considering outsourcing your HR department to professionals, two important factors should be considered:

1. In a well-managed situation, legal fees and severance, for example, could total $5,000 to $10,000.
2. In contrast, if the situation is poorly managed, relative to the seriousness of the situation, the claim can result in $80,000 to $100,000 in fees or more.

“The employer may not see the direct expense, but there is typically a $10,000 to $25,000 deductible on employment practice liability insurance and any claim against insurance tends to raise future premiums,” said Jacobs. “When centers manage the risk related to these issues, they mitigate this expense in the long run.”

Click here to download the MedHQ white paper, “10 Ways to Save $10,000 in Human Resources.”

About the MedHQ 10-Point HR Audit
It takes approximately one or two hours for back office staff to gather the information necessary for the 10-Point HR audit. Typical savings = six figures. Request your risk-free 10-Point HR Audit today. If MedHQ fails to identify $25,000 in savings, the audit is free.

10 Ways to Save $10,000 in Human Resources: Consolidating Vendors Will Save Your Center Money

Faced with falling revenue and more competition for patient volume, ambulatory surgery center (ASC) leaders are seeking efficiencies across every aspect of the business today. However, most centers are missing opportunities within one of the top three largest line items, along with building rent and medical supplies, that can keep costs in line. That item is human resources (HR).

To remedy this, MedHQ has worked with over 70 healthcare facility partners to find savings that also deliver the benefits of improving employee satisfaction and reducing risk.  Through the process, MedHQ gleaned a host of key findings that guided the creation of the MedHQ 10-Point HR Audit (10-Point HR Audit). The 10-Point HR Audit identifies inefficiencies that, when addressed, can result in six-figure savings for a healthcare facility.

Some examples from the 10-Point HR Audit are complex, but some are straightforward. One of the simplest ways to save money is vendor consolidation. Many surgery centers utilize more than 20 vendors to provide support services, ranging from payroll and insurance to hiring, firing and training.

Of course, vendor relationships take time to develop and manage. Bundling services can lead to discounted fees and fewer mistakes, and also save center management hundreds of hours each year.

Click here to download the MedHQ white paper, “10 Ways to Save $10,000 in Human Resources.”

About the MedHQ 10-Point HR Audit  

It takes approximately one or two hours for back office staff to gather the information necessary for the 10-Point HR audit. Typical savings = six figures. Request your risk-free 10-Point HR Audit today. If MedHQ fails to identify $25,000 in savings, the audit is free.

Insurance Questions Abound post-Election

As the dust settles after the 2016 presidential election, many questions remain unanswered related to the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, and MedHQ’s seasoned human resources professionals continue to take the pulse of ambulatory surgery center (ASC) employee health insurance.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. And in fact Republicans from both houses of Congress were able to come together and approve a repeal of key provisions of PPACA, thereby demonstrating that PPACA “repeal” may indeed be possible. So while Congress and the executive branches of government now appear aligned on a repeal and replace goal, it is yet unclear the precise form of legislation will ultimately pass congress and be signed into law by the president. As details unfold, we can try and read the tea leaves and predict what may happen. At this point it appears that the ultimate solution includes a strengthening or at least continuation of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Whatever happens, the fact remains that healthcare costs are on an upward climb, with the Department of Health and Human Services reporting in July 2016 that Americans could pay over $10,000 per person for the first time.

“Understandably, the lack of clarity has left ambulatory surgery center (ASC) employees wondering exactly what repeal and replace means,” said MedHQ CEO Tom Jacobs. “And as healthcare expenses continue to rise, employees rightfully want to know, ‘how will I be impacted?’”

Jacobs weighs in and provides insights and answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that ASC management may need to field from employees.

  1. Will my costs and out-of-pocket expenses continue to increase? Premiums have skyrocketed due to PPACA mandated coverage requirements, particularly those for individuals and small groups. Jacobs said some of the coverage requirements could be undone under the new administration, which could slow the growth in premium rates. “Undoing some of the PPACA mandates could reduce pressure on rising premiums cost, and HSAs could be a great option,” he noted.
  2. Will my insurance plan include my doctor? “This is an important consideration for everyone,” noted Jacobs, “but one of the ways the market is responding to rising costs is by narrowing providers and contracting with lower cost providers. The ability to choose a preferred provider may still be possible, but it may come at an increased cost.”
  3. What will happen with Health Savings Accounts? President-elect Trump has stated he wants to make it easier to pass HSAs to heirs, and House Republicans want a two-fold increase in contribution limits. As of June 30, 2016, Americans had opened 18.2 million HSAs, which is a 25% increase from a year earlier, according toDevenir, an independent advisor and consultant in the health savings account industry. Additionally, assets had grown to an estimated $34.7 billion by June, up 22% over the previous year. “Participation in HSAs is growing and, as it stands to date, it appears that HSA plans will be encouraged, not discouraged,” Jacobs advised.
  4. Will employers and health plans continue to innovate and add any new features, and will they work? “We field a lot of questions about the benefits of adding options to health plans such as telemedicine and access to retail (walk-in) clinics,” said Jacobs. He is hopeful that lessening of the regulatory environment will enable the market to provide more consumer-friendly services. “In the very first month we offered a telemedicine option, the number of claims avoided for people who accessed the telemedicine service offset entirely the cost of the telemedicine plan to the employer,” he said.
  5. Will my employer establish a wellness program? According to the Society for Human Resources Management, in 2015, 80% of employers offered preventative wellness services and information. “This trend appears to have staying power,” noted Jacobs. “If employers elect to offer a wellness program, we recommend a tangible, results-driven program that supports the company culture. Enhancing productivity is key but ultimately, the goal is utilizing the program to decrease healthcare costs.”

To learn more about how MedHQ can improve your ASC’s operations and act as a liaison for all employee health insurance inquiries, email Tom Jacobs today or call: 708-492-0519.

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