Prickly Issues

Physical therapy practice performance | TeamflowPrickly Issues

Bringing up concerns results in pointing fingers, casting blame.

How can Shannon improve performance in the office without losing workers or hurting morale?

Shannon looked around the conference room. She had borrowed the room from a neighboring office and called all her staff in early, hoping it would seem more official than if she just brought up her concerns during the regular workday. On the contrary, two of her team members were busy with their phones and most of the others were chatting.

“Okay, people!” she said, worrying that she sounded too perky. “We have a problem, but I think we can all work together and make things better.”

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Definitely too perky.

“We need to step up our game in the office,” she continued. “When we have mistakes in billing it costs the practice money.”

The office staff looked offended and the trainers looked bored, but Shannon soldiered on. “Payments get delayed, claims get denied, and we can end up with interrupted care plans and unhappy patients.”

“I am meticulous about paperwork,” Theresa objected, “but I can only do so much with what I’m given.”

“Like what?” one of the assistants chimed in. “I’m meticulous, too!”

“Everybody might be meticulous,” put in a young man in orange scrubs, “but I know I got some notes last week that said, and I quote, ‘Back pain.’ What am I supposed to do with that?”

Shannon waited for the outcry to settle down and continued. “We’ve had claims going in with incorrect diagnosis codes, we don’t always collect the co-pays, and we have some documentation issues that could get us in trouble.”

Team members began talking again, each one seeming to blame another until it was time to open the physical therapy practice.

“Well, thank you all,” Shannon concluded. “I know we can all work together to solve this problem.”

“I don’t know where you get that idea,” Theresa said, helping Shannon put the room in order as the last worker left. “We just spent nearly an hour listening to people say it wasn’t their fault. What makes you think anyone is going to make changes?”

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“You did the same thing the rest of them did!” Shannon protested.

“And so did you!” Theresa snapped. “We’re all doing our best already. You didn’t give us any new ideas. You just said we were messing up. No one is messing up on purpose.”

Shannon sighed and walked back to her office in silence, a few steps behind her office manager. Theresa was right. She hadn’t made things better — in fact, she might have made them worse. The excuses and defensive accusations made in the meeting replayed in her mind as she got ready for her first patient. Turnover was high enough already, and now everyone would be grumpy.

“I don’t have time for this,” Shannon muttered to herself.

How can Shannon improve performance in the office without losing workers or hurting morale?

Want to know how to improve your own practice workflow? Register for our webinar ’4 Steps to Stop Your Staff from Fighting.’

11 replies
  1. Michelle Corrigan
    Michelle Corrigan says:

    The coding and medical records errors are the starting point for rejections at the payers. Each member of the team has their role, the coding and records is ultimately the responsibility of the clinician. It sounds like the entire team is going in different directions and not working toward a common goal.

  2. Amy Wiko
    Amy Wiko says:

    Discussing issues without solutions will not help your practice be successful. Teamwork, identifying roles and planning are the tools needed to ensure you are billing and documenting accurately and getting paid in a timely fashion.

  3. Thomas Jorno
    Thomas Jorno says:

    It sounds like the lack of accountability is a serious problem in this office. Shannon needs to have a process in her office that is transparent so that when these staff members fall short of their meticulous standards, it’s easy for any supervisor or team member to find this. They would also benefit from using an automated system in their office that would flag these problems and mistakes, bringing them to her attention.

    Additionally, this attention to detail, these changes to the culture need to start from the top. Shannon needs to lead by example.

  4. Lisette Acevedo
    Lisette Acevedo says:

    What is missing from this equation? It would greatly benefit Shannon if she had a way to monitor task completion by her staff. Her staff is too focused on who gets the blame. What they need to do focus on making improvements of themselves in their role at the practice, whether it be following up on rejections, documenting, appointment reminder calls, etc.

  5. Heather Miller
    Heather Miller says:

    There are many areas in a practice where something can go wrong. By setting up a checklist that can be used for every patient you allow everyone on the office from the clinician to the front desk to know what has been completed and what has been. This way you can hold everyone accountable.

  6. Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard says:

    Having a process that will control the workflow of the office and alert staff members of tasks that need to be done and then using their individual expertise to address these tasks will minimize the risk of mistakes and help the practice become more profitable.

  7. Candace Coleman
    Candace Coleman says:

    Shannon needs a software built around workflow. This will help assign tasks and hold team members accountable while tracking their productivity and reducing errors. Without this Shannon will continue to waste time that could be spent with patients while still making mistakes and losing money.

  8. Kathleen Casbarro
    Kathleen Casbarro says:

    Pointing the finger! When does it stop? How do we stop it? It’s all about taking ownership and having software built around a solid workflow.

    It’s true that no one intentionally “messes up”, we have a lot on our plates. We just need a way to prioritize; hold ourselves and other accountable.

    Verifying is the missing link in so many practices, anyone would agree that someone says they completed a task, or they hand you a stack of papers or charts to look through. How do you prioritize to verify the job was done?

    A workflow that hold everyone, including yourself is the way to go. Assigning a task to a team member in an electronic workflow and having the task pended back to you when it’s completed, all in one system.

    At the next office meeting everyone will be pointing fingers at the practice growth chart and seeing an increase in office productivity and revenue.

  9. Andrew Kropff
    Andrew Kropff says:

    I don’t think people realize how much office personnel can inadvertently cause compliance, revenue, and patient retention challenges. And when practice owners have to deal with micromanaging these challenges they don’t have as much time for patients. It’s the 21st century, there is no reason not to use technology to handle this stuff.

  10. George Konold
    George Konold says:

    Shannon needs a task checklist that will automatically assign tasks to the appropriate staff when the patient comes in. That way she has accountability, transparency and each task generated by each patient will be taken care of without Shannon’s micromanagement. bestPT’s software will automate Shannon’s practice management workflow and her staff will soon be managing themselves.

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