To Save Money, Cut Back On Annual Health Plan Increases

Shrinking reimbursements and increasing competition for patient volume have taken a toll on ambulatory surgery center (ASC) revenue, and proactive centers are responding by investigating ways to save money. But most centers are missing one of the top three largest line items, along with building rent and medical supplies, that can keep costs in line: human resources (HR).

To remedy this, MedHQ has worked with over 70 healthcare facility partners to find additional savings that also deliver the benefits of improving employee satisfaction and reducing risk. Through the process, MedHQ gleaned 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.

“We were very surprised to find out how much money we could save. MedHQ identified nearly $100,000 that we could re-capture and put to work in other parts of our business,” said Scott Glaser, M.D., Pain Specialists of Greater Chicago.

In one simple example of our 10-Point HR Audit we assess the employee health plan. The employer share of the health plan typically costs $80,000 – $200,000 per year. On top of that, employees contribute another $25,000 – $50,000 annually.

Surgery centers can save money on health plans in two ways:

  1. The first opportunity is to limit annual increases to 2-4% a year rather than the 10-20% found at many surgery centers. This saves the employer up to $36,000 annually, and also provides significant savings for employees – up to $11,000 a year. Are you facing a big increase from your health insurance carrier? Have you explored all of the strategies available to mitigate these increase while keeping a plan that is attractive to employees?
  2. Another opportunity is properly adjudicating the monthly insurance bill. Instituting tracking to ensure employees who leave are removed from coverage at the appropriate time can result in savings totaling $8,000 – $20,000 a year.

Organizations who research, negotiate and purchase a plan on their own have recently been subject to significant increases due to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act coverage mandates. Participation in a large group or alternative ERISA-based plans gives employers access to optimal plans, plus they have the ability to gain credit for promoting wellness and mitigating health risk.

Want to learn more ways to save? Click here to download the MedHQ white paper, “10 Ways Surgery Centers are Wasting Money 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.

Employee Handbooks: 4 Best Practices for ASCs

Published on August 21, 2014

Is your employee handbook in desperate need of a makeover?

For many ambulatory surgery centers, it’s not uncommon for the same employee handbook to be distributed month after month, year after year. Often a laundry list of “must have statements,” these comprehensive employment documents are usually required by law and outline a company’s mission and goals, expectations, workplace rules and procedures, and formal employment policies.
But handbooks can quickly become outdated – and even a liability – if they’re not regularly updated. By following these best practices, your employee handbook will remain a relevant, valuable tool for you and your employees:

No. 1: Align with your current brand
A company’s business strategy almost always changes over time – and so should its handbook. Does your handbook properly articulate your company’s goals, mission and values? By communicating what the company is striving to achieve, and informing the employees of their vital role in the company’s success, the handbook can help guide employees on approaching their day-to-day work.
Communicating a company’s values and goals explains the important relationship between corporate and personal goals for employees. By showing that alignment, companies inevitably reduce turnover, increase productivity and lessen the risk of lawsuits.
In many cases, handbooks also should communicate to employees what behavior is expected in the workplace. Additionally, they should instruct employees on how to ethically approach common workplace situations and interactions in a way that’s consistent with your brand’s values. And when employees “walk the talk,” a company’s brand is strengthened and its corporate culture is further reinforced.

No. 2: Leverage new technology
Online portals, PDFs and other technology make it easier than ever to distribute labor and employment documents to employees. They also can help companies save on printing and distributing costs. Still, if a company forgoes distributing hard copies of handbooks to employees, employers should still request a signed statement from all employees acknowledging that they’ve received them.

No. 3: Review content annually
Employee handbooks should be reviewed at least once per year to account for changes in company policies or federal, state and local employment laws. For organizations without in-house expertise, it’s best to consult outside specialists, who can work closely with leadership to develop and execute long-term human resources strategies.

No. 4: Apply policies universally
Companies frequently get into trouble when policies and procedures are not enforced equally among all employees. Still, many companies are reluctant to “standardize procedures” because they fear regimented protocols are not flexible enough to address the myriad issues that arise day-to-day in a modern workplace.
It’s important to emphasize that standardizing procedures does not mean standardizing outcomes, which are impossible to predict. But by having a smart plan in place, companies can limit their risk and foster trust with employees, which leads to healthier, more productive working environments.

Please contact (708) 492-0519 for more information on employee handbooks.

 

Managing ASC Employer Health Benefits with Flexible Staff Scheduling

Tom Jacobs, CEO of MedHQ, sat down with Becker’s ASC Review for an extensive interview on how ASCs that rely on flexible staff scheduling can manage their employee benefits under health care reform.

In the article, Tom discusses how to determine your surgery center’s number of full time employees, how employees can be legally flexed, whether you should off benefits to non-full time employees, ASC wage inflation and how hiring hourly workers will be more complex under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Click here for the full article, “ASC Owners & Operators: 5 Things to Know About Managing Employer Health Benefits If You Rely On Flexible Staff Scheduling” from Becker’s ASC Review.

4 Questions for ASC Administrators in a Candidate’s Job Market

In today’s ambulatory surgery center job market, well-qualified nurses and other skilled healthcare workers have the upper hand. So how does your ASC remain competitive when applicants have more choices than ever before? Start by answering these four questions:

What makes my ASC unique?
Before posting a job listing, it’s important to understand what differentiates your facility. Are your compensation and benefits competitive? Also, how would you describe your facility’s appearance and culture? For job seekers, first impressions count for a lot, so it’s important to make sure your workplace is inviting – both inside and out. Additionally, administrators should be forthright about the ASC’s strategic plan. That way, the candidate can decide if his or her own goals align.

Does my ASC offer opportunities for personal growth?
Today, the most talented employees understand that professional development is an individual’s responsibility. In order to attract the best candidates, ASCs should leverage their diverse array of medical expertise to provide opportunities for professional growth. Still, professional development may mean different things to different people. For example, a recent graduate may be looking for a strong mentorship program, while an experienced candidate may place a premium on a steady caseload.

What’s my growth narrative?
Every business has a story. Unfortunately, some are inspiring to potential employees and some are not. An ASC’s leadership should make a deliberate effort to capture the facility’s narrative and tell it a way that makes a candidate say, “I really want to work here.” For example, a candidate should understand the ASC’s mission, the longevity of its staff and what its strategic plans are for the future. All employees, too, should understand these goals, so a consistent message can be delivered to candidates.

Does my ASC hire too quickly?
Decision makers at healthcare facilities spend dozens of hours researching the purchase of a $250,000 piece of equipment. So why not make the same deliberate approach when investing in a new hire? Too frequently, managers hire the first qualified person who walks through the door. Candidates and managers alike should have an opportunity to vet each other fully.
For more information on HR staffing solutions, please contact info@medhq.net.

Time and attendance software systems improve efficiency, offer KPI insights

Published on October 9, 2014 
By Sara Vong

In healthcare, time is money.

As with all other labor-intensive businesses, ambulatory surgery centers and other healthcare providers can reap significant cost savings by tracking and analyzing labor costs with time and attendance software. These applications allow physicians and administrators to fully understand every aspect of their personnel costs, benchmark key performance indicators and make necessary adjustments.

What’s more, time and attendance software itself significantly lowers labor costs by more accurately tabulating paid hours, minimizing manual staff data entry, and limiting keystroke and calculation errors. But implementing this software requires considerable planning, expertise and follow through.

Here are the five steps to successfully launching and maintaining an ASC time and attendance application:

Software demonstrations
Time and attendance systems are not one-size-fits all applications. Different organizations require different solutions, which is why it’s important for physicians, administrators and staff to receive a comprehensive overview of the available systems, so they can make the best decision possible for the facility and staff.

Needs assessments
While demonstrations allow potential users an opportunity to sample the user experience, before a system is selected, it’s important to formally capture desired functionality, talk through how it will be used day-to-day and outline what goals an ASC’s leadership is hoping to achieve. For example, many time and attendance systems offer seven or eight ways to capture time clock data when staff reports for work. A thorough needs assessment survey will determine exactly how data ultimately will be used and, therefore, what exact functionality is required.

Customization
Once an application is selected, specialists begin refining the software around the unique needs of the client. For example, accruals and scheduling modules help track time, utilization and determine what staff members are available and when – all at the click of a mouse.

Training
Often overlooked, staff training is perhaps the most critical part of launching a time and attendance system. “How do I clock out for lunch?” “What are the rules for overtime?” “Does the time clock round up or down?” Staff training sessions are an opportunity for specialists to answer these important questions and others, while providing general instruction of how to properly use the new application.

Updating
After launching, time and attendance systems require regular maintenance to ensure that they’re consistent with current company policies and retention strategies. It also provides an opportunity to add or update specific modules, which can provide better workforce performance insights for a facility’s leadership.
For more information on launching a time and attendance system at your facility, please contact info@medhq.net.

3 Tips for Boosting Participation in Professional Learning Programs

Published on September 10, 2014 
By Chris Schukies, HR Services Client Representative

Continuing education is a fact of daily life in healthcare. From maintaining good standing with accrediting bodies to ensuring Medicare compliance, ambulatory surgery centers face no shortage of clinical, regulatory and professional training opportunities and obligations throughout the year.
But ensuring participation in these important learning programs is a continual challenge. Heavy caseloads and strained budgets mean all practices today must do more with less — and continuing education frequently falls by the wayside.
With that in mind, here are three tips for boosting employee participation:
Utilize online tools
Nearly all professional learning, compliance and continuing education opportunities today are available online. That said, not all organizations take advantage of this convenient option. Administrators benefit from the ability to standardize clinical instruction for the entire organization, while employees are free to complete these tasks on their own schedules. Quizzes typically are administered at the end of each module and comprehensive reporting capabilities are available.
In addition, course content can be customized to meet the needs of each ASC. Managers also may administer professional learning solutions to a select few employees, or customize a new course.
Communicate goals
A well-trained staff means better patient outcomes and employee satisfaction. Advanced accreditation and certifications also allow surgery centers to stay on the cutting edge of treatment advances and procedures. Communicating these goals and their rationale builds enthusiasm among employees for participating in the requisite training.
Promote professional development
While many accreditation and compliance programs are mandatory in healthcare, most professional learning opportunities are not. Still, programs covering customer service and management skills can provide employees valuable training opportunities that make them more valuable in the workplace. Examples of popular professional learning solutions include:

  • Employment Law for Supervisors
  • Progressive Discipline
  • Time Management Skills for Employees
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Workplace
  • Regulatory Compliance for Clinical Staff
  • Regulatory Compliance for Non-Clinical Staff
  • Pulmonary Emergencies
  • Safety and Health

For more information on professional learning solutions, please contact info@medhq.net.

 

Look before you leap: 4 steps before dropping your insurance plan

Published on August 7, 2014

In human resources, autumn leaves signal one thing: health insurance open enrollment periods.

This annual event is particularly acute in 2014 for healthcare decision makers navigating the post-Affordable Care Act landscape. Ahead of Obamacare’s Nov. 15 open enrollment start, many small- to mid-sized employers are reassessing whether to discontinue their company-sponsored healthcare coverage altogether in favor of employee participation in state-based ACA marketplaces.

Under federal law, companies with fewer than 50 employees are not required to offer health insurance to their employees. Larger companies may face potential penalties in the coming years if they fail to offer a specified level of health insurance to their employees, but it remains to be seen whether that provision currently set to start next year will ever go into effect.

To be certain, it’s a complicated issue to address. On one hand, Obamacare creates an opportunity for smaller companies to shed a costly, unpredictable line item on their balance sheets. On the other hand, a competitive benefits package can be a great recruiting tool for luring the best talent. For these reasons, we recommend that ambulatory surgery centers complete the following four steps before dropping a health insurance plan:

Don’t panic: Cancelling a health insurance plan can have long-term implications for a company, so it’s best to approach it with a clear head. Meet with your insurance broker to ensure you’re making an informed decision and then consider all of the options available. You may be surprised what you learn.
Evaluate your current plan: Take a full inventory of what your plan offers, its advantages and disadvantages and what your workforce may be willing to live without. Conducting a survey of your employees about the current offering, too, can provide valuable insights and help your decision-making process. Again, you may be surprised what you learn.
Assess alternatives: Benefits providers have developed a variety of innovative, non-traditional insurance offerings in recent years that meet new ACA requirements, while limiting your risk and improving coverage for your employees. For example, defined contribution health insurance products that cap companies’ costs at set annual limits have proliferated since the ACA was enacted.
Keep your ear to the ground: By some estimates, Obamacare has undergone 42 changes since it went into law in 2010. And there’s likely more to come, which is why it’s important for ASC administrators to continually monitor updates to the new law, as well as the latest benefits, products and services that may help you manage your risks.

Please contact (708) 492-0519 for more information on managing your health care costs.

Eletter: MedHQ Survey Shows Mentoring, Performance Measurement Most Critical to ASC HR Leaders

Healthcare decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.

Providers, payers and other healthcare stakeholders all regularly use data to help make the best decisions for their organizations and improve patient outcomes. As the leading HR and accounting solutions provider for surgical centers nationwide, MedHQ also uses data to drive ASC staffing, benchmarking, performance management and workflow decisions with our partners.

MedHQ took a similar approach in launching this eletter. We recently commissioned a survey of top healthcare leaders to determine its focus and find out what’s keeping administrators, physicians partners, and other key financial and HR managers up at night – all with the goal of delivering the most relevant, timely content to you every two weeks.

In deploying the survey, we also promised to share our findings, which suggest the following operational and HR trends today in ASCs and other healthcare facilities:

  • Mentoring managers, measuring performance are the biggest priority. More than 80 percent of the healthcare leaders who participated in our survey selected “performance review systems” and “management/supervisor coaching and mentoring” as the areas that are most critical to their businesses.
  • Training, onboarding issues not far behind. About three-quarters of the survey’sparticipants selected “new hires and onboarding processes” and “professional learning solutions” as the most important operational areas of their businesses.
  • Traditional HR functions remain important. Core HR responsibilities such as benefits, compensation, leave policies, handbooks and interviewing are still top of mind for the operations professionals who participated in our survey. At least two-thirds of thehealthcare leaders who took part in our survey indicated that salary/wage benchmarking, employee handbooks, performance management, interviewing, time and attendance systems, disciplining, and employee benefit maintenance and process automation all were areas “most critical” to their businesses.
  • Workforce reduction functions not critical. Thirty-six percent or less of the survey’sparticipants indicated that “exit interviews” and “termination and off-boarding processes” are an important part of their day-to-day operations.
  • Managers mixed on recruiting efforts. Roughly half of the HR leaders who participated in the survey indicated that working through resumes, background and reference checking, and drug screening were a critical part of their day-to-day operations.

In the coming months, our new eletter will feature MedHQ thought leaders exploring these trends and other important issue areas for ASC administrators and healthcare operations managers. But we’d like this to be an ongoing discussion, so we always welcome feedback and encourage readers to suggest topic areas that we should cover in the future.

Let the conversation begin.

MedHQ at ASCA 2014

MedHQ staff will be exhibiting at ASCA 2014 at the Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee. Stop by our booth to chat with MedHQ CEO Tom Jacobs about your ASC’s accounting and human resources needs.

In addition to exhibiting, Tom and other MedHQ staff will be attending the Surgery Center Professionals Linkedin group meet-up. The event will be an informal opportunity for peers in the ASC industry to have a drink and get to know each other. See below for the details.

What: Surgery Center Professionals Linkedin Group Meet-Up at ASCA 2014

When: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 7:15p.m. (Immediately following the welcome reception).

Where: Findley’s Irish Pub in the Opryland Resort.

ASCA 2014, May 14-17

MedHQ will be exhibiting at ASCA 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee, from May 14-17. Stop by the MedHQ booth and say hello to CEO Tom Jacobs, who will be available to discuss your health care human resources and accounting needs.

Tom and other members of the MedHQ staff will also be attending the Surgery Center Professionals Linkedin group meet-up, an informal social event the first night of the conference. Please see below for the meet-up details.

What: Surgery Center Professionals Linkedin Group Meet-Up at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
When: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 7:15p.m. (Immediately following the welcome reception).
Where: Findley’s Irish Pub in the Opryland Resort.

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