Having a well-rounded staff is beneficial to you and your patients and can lead to higher productivity and enhanced team spirit. Building your staff starts with hiring people who are efficient and have the desire to learn. Be sure to let potential employees know up front that cross-training will be a part of their job function to set the expectation.
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Explore This IssueApril 2011
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Like everything else in managing a practice, cross-training should be well thought out and tailored to fit the needs of your practice. It is important to look at the dynamics of your staff and determine the functions of the practice that should be cross-trained. For example, a clinical employee can assist in clerical duties, but the reverse is not true: It is not possible to train a coder to perform the job functions of a registered nurse.
Cross-training is applicable in several areas:
Front Office: Your staff members in this area work with patient insurance and patient records so they could be trained to work in the medical records area as well as on payment posting.
Coding/Billing: The billers in your practice should understand an explanation of benefits so that proper follow-up of incorrect payments can be made. A coder can also be trained to post payments to assist with entering accounts receivable in the system.
Nursing Staff: Your clinical staff have specific duties but can be an asset with scheduling and answering the phone.
Practice Management: Your managers usually know how to perform all office functions other than clinical tasks (unless they have the necessary education and licensing). If they don’t know all of the nonclinical office functions, cross-train them.
Tailor cross-training with your patients in mind to improve vital functions in the practice, such as:
Scheduling: The scheduling staff obtain all the correct and necessary information to make patient visits efficient. Educate staff on the typical questions patients ask.
Patient Check-in: Staff cross-trained in this area will keep patient flow organized. The current day’s schedule should be prepared at the beginning of the day with all of the necessary paperwork ready for the patient to complete or update for claims processing.
Claims Processing: Claims management is a daily task, and every staff member—including physicians, nurses, front office staff, and back office staff—should be trained in this area to ensure proper billing of “clean claims” leading to proper payments for services.
Organize cross-training with office managers or practice administrators to make sure that these areas are well covered and there is no disruption of patient flow. The benefits of cross-training include:
Financial: Your practice can save $30,000 to $50,000 a year on temporary staff if your full-time staff is efficient in various areas of the practice.
Operation consistency: Coverage during employee vacations or leave ensures your practice continues to operate smoothly.
Promotion of teamwork: Cross-trained staff can more fully appreciate their colleagues’ work, which may translate into higher levels of workplace respect.
Productivity and patient satisfaction are the keys to a well-managed practice. Cross-training staff can be a big advantage to meeting goals and expectations and can provide value to employees and boost morale in the office. Make sure you have a well-organized and thorough plan involving staff before anything is implemented.
If you have questions related to practice management, contact the ACR’s practice management department at (404) 633-3777 or [email protected].