Published - April 1997

By Dave Jakielo


"Your only as good as the people you hire" - Ray Kroc

One of the reasons I love being involved in health care today is because it is always changing. We are always in pursuit of a moving target. Just when we think we understand a particular area they change the rules.

Many of us go back to the era when we received carrier policy updates once a year in the federal register. We had two months to complain about what was coming then adapt. Now we receive retroactive notices. I really enjoy when we receive a Medicare or Medicaid notice on September 15, 1996, indicating that became effective August 1, 1996. Most changes catch everyone by surprise, even the 1-900 horoscope telephone lines.

Given that changes are occurring weekly, it is imperative that a major key to our future success will be having a strong support staff to assist us in staying current. These days if you are not complying with all the rules and regulations you and your clients may become guests of the government.

Yes, having a competent and knowledgeable staff is a necessity not a luxury. We can no longer rely on ourselves as the only "guru" in our offices. Changes are occurring in so many areas and so rapidly you must delegate responsibility to other competent team members.

Unfortunately, many of us have not developed anyone on our staff nor have we recruited healthcare professionals into our business. Many of us have second in commands who have been with our companies 10, 15 or 20+ years. However, what I have found is that there are two types of experienced employees.

There are employees with "20 years of experience" and there are those with "one year of experience 20 times." The distinction between these two types of employees is that the first has been working in the field for twenty years and has been keeping current and learning like a sponge every day of their lives. The second has been in the field for twenty years but is still doing almost everything the way they did it twenty years ago.

The person who has twenty years of experience has the following traits:

  • Actually reads "ALL" the carrier updates and trade publications like Part B News, Physicians Digest, etc.
  • Attends various seminars relating to topics such as coding, third party regulations, etc. (And stays attentive for the entire meeting.)
  • Has continued to read non fiction books, even after high school.
  • Regularly listens to audio or watches video learning programs about leadership, teambuilding, customer service, etc.
  • Solicits ideas from the entire staff and has an unquenchable thirst for learning.
  • Enjoys sharing information and training others so they can be successful too. (Enjoys being a mentor.)

    The person who has one year of experience twenty times has the following traits:

  • Attends various seminars relating to topics such as coding, third party regulations, etc. (And leaves after the free lunch.)
  • Hasn’t read anything except what’s available at the supermarket checkout.
  • Hasn’t ever listen to an audio or watched a video learning program about leadership, teambuilding, customer service, etc. But can recite from memory every story that was on "Hard Copy" last evening
  • Never lets themselves be influenced by the staff. Keeps pertinent information to themselves. (It’s my way or the highway.)
  • Enjoys taking credit for everything, even if they had nothing to do with it.

    We know that our second in command is important because they are a direct reflection on us. We can only apologize and cover up with our clients for so long, then it’s time to face the music. Remember, you always need to be training your replacement. Do not surround yourself with "Yes" people. You need someone who can challenge your way of thinking to keep you fresh and growing. If you only want to surround yourself with "Yes" people just contact the European scientist who cloned the sheep, maybe he can help you.

    You may know that your assistant is very important, but so is your entire staff. It always amazes me that we spend more time searching out vendors than we do searching for competent employees. Many of us rely on the "fogging method" when it comes to our employees. Yep! We say if you put a mirror under their nose and it fogs up, hire them.

    Did you know that 65% of all resumes are falsified? The two things' people "stretch the truth" on most is education and length of employment at other positions. There are easy ways to protect yourself from deceptive employees and they do not require an exorbitant amount of time. The time you invest up front verifying prospective employees’ credentials will save you an enormous amount of time down the road. It’s like putting a $100.00 in the bank at 25% interest.


    This is simple, just make it a requirement that the applicant provide you with proof. Whether the job requires a high school, GED or college diploma have them send you a copy of their credentials before you invest your time interviewing them. If they falsified their education on the application or resume this procedure will quickly weed them out.


    Always.. Always.. Always call the last two employers. Sometimes you will be surprised what you will find out. I have found that instead of working for an employer for 5 years as the resume or application stated they worked there 5 months.

    Now I know many of us have fallen out of the habit of checking on references because we said "No one will tell us anything, all they will do is verify dates of employment." SO WHAT! If all they will do is verify start and stop dates, at least we know they did not lie about them.

    When the past employers plead the fifth amendment and will only verify dates of employment, there is one question I have always been able to get them to answer. What is that magic question? The magic question is, "Are they eligible for re-hire?" If they say no you don’t need to hear anymore.

    I know the above two procedures may add to your work load. However, have you ever made a bad hire? Getting rid of them is worse than clearing up a severe rash. So take the time to hire good people. It’s amazing it only takes one negative employee to disrupt an entire office or upset a client. A problem employee is like a cancer, it can spread throughout the entire organization before you know it’s there.

    Remember this monthly feature will address topics of interest to you. I really appreciate the input and suggestions I have received in the past. Please send your questions or ideas on topics you would like addressed, to: Dave Jakielo, Seminars, Training and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15205-3214. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email I wish you continued success. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

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