Published - September 2009

By Dave Jakielo

Economic Climate Change
Key Elements to Monitor or Adjust

Global warming isn’t the only climate change we’re living through. Many of us have never lived through an economic downturn of the magnitude that we are currently experiencing. We have seen our 401Ks drop so low that they are now going to be renamed 200.5Ks. The Blue Chip stocks of 2007 may become a penny-stock listing in 2010. Your neighborhood block party maybe minus a few families if you don’t hold it before foreclosure season kicks in.

Seriously, I hope you haven’t been personally devastated by what has occurred during this recession, and I hope that you aren’t just putting your head in the sand waiting for things to turnaround.

There are many areas that you should be monitoring as well as actions you can implement to make sure your company doesn’t suffer unnecessarily. Let’s examine some of the areas that we should be paying closer attention to during this economic tempest.

Given that employees are a company’s biggest expense, you can no longer afford to carry marginal performers on your staff. Make sure each position is staffed with someone who gives 100 percent everyday. As an employer you should:

  • Create a position description / task requirement list for everyone. The task list should include what you expect the employee to do daily, weekly, monthly, as needed, etc.
  • Set expected productivity standards for each position and make sure you “inspect what you expect” on a regular basis. It doesn’t do any good to establish standards and then fail to track everyone’s productivity on a consistent basis.
  • Before hiring new employees, administer an appropriate test to make sure they have the skills that will be required to be successful in the position.
  • Administer assessment profiles ( to candidates before offering them a position to ensure that they will be a “cultural fit” in your practice.
  • Evaluate the performance of all current personnel and coach them in any areas where they may need improvement or free them up for other opportunities.

Closely monitor your clients’ accounts receivables by each individual third party payor and compare year-to-year and quarter-to-quarter numbers to see if their receivables are increasing. Many of us assume that insurance companies are just trying to “screw” us by delaying payments, which then leads to an increase in the number of unpaid accounts. However, today there are other reasons that may be attributed to payment delays:

  • The insurer who relied heavily on investment income for profits, not just premiums, may not have enough cash on hand to adjudicate the claims it receives on a timely basis.
  • The employer may have defaulted on paying the employees’ healthcare premiums the insurer is placing all claims on administrative hold, pending cancellation, until the employer becomes current with premiums.
  • An unemployed patient presents his or her old employment insurance card and is not classified as self pay, so no payment is requested at time of service.
  • A patient’s credit card or personal check is not verified before the patient leaves the office and funds are not available.
  • Third party coverage or method of payment is not verified before a patient leaves the office.

Remember clients have a choice of billing companies. Here are some thoughts on how to improve your customer service if this is an area you want to further enhance:

  • Nip those negative attitudes in the bud. Your company doesn’t have room for negative people. A person with a bad attitude is infectious and may cause your clients or their patients to go to a competitor.
  • Be patient friendly. Make it easy for patients to pay their bills via a web payment portal. Include your email address on the patient statement and provide 24/7 voice mail option.

Keep in mind that there are three types of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. The choice is yours as to which category you’d like to fall into during this economic climate change.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an International Speaker, Consultant, Executive Coach, and Author, and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past president of Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh Chapter. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412-921-0976.

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