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Kyruus Blog

Unrestricted Healthcare Access as a Culture

Editor's Note: This post - originally published on LinkedIn - was written by Lisa Griffin, Director of Access and Referral Management at Houston Methodist. Houston Methodist is a Kyruus client.

Many have tried desperately to capture the essence of unrestricted healthcare access and in my opinion, come short. It is my opinion that Access has become a buzz word rather than a real culture. As healthcare leaders and I mean anyone who has a passion for someone who may be a patient at any point in their lives we are obligated to forge a seamless path to healthcare services. My passion is my driver to share my opinion.

I began as a baby in the healthcare arena. Yes, many of you were born in a hospital and before birth, your mothers may have received care to ensure a healthy entry into this world. Our lives are centered and driven by being healthy or trying to have a life free of sickness. I am committed to an attempt to speak to the brave few who share my same commitment to lead Access Optimization.

Many focus on the regulatory requirements and legality rather than merely writing operational guidelines that will ensure your organization keeps the patient at the center of its business model. We focus on strategies that force individuals to align metrics that give them a false sense of accomplishment. These false metrics become a beacon and serve as tag lines and talking points rather that showing an accurate picture of opportunities for improvement.

I will try as I share my opinion to help someone take the lead in changing a culture.

Introduction

As I begin to share my opinion regarding unrestricted healthcare access, I want to assure you it is coming from my passion for the optimal patient, provider, and caregiver experience. We have the opportunity to create unrestricted healthcare access as a culture.

I start with defining "culture" its a way of thinking, behaving or working that exists in a place or organization. And "access" means the liberty, or ability to enter without restriction. It's important to understand the context of these terms to ensure your healthcare team is poised for the commitment it takes to forge unrestricted access. I started out learning about healthcare and caring for others as a child as my mother and grandmother worked in the healthcare arena. I began as a desk receptionist at a major hospital after completing a medical assistant program. I was trained on how to help and to always be on the lookout to assist anyone. I watched my dad stop his car many times to help someone in need. I carried this same culture to the healthcare environment. I did not always get it right, and it was tiring each day to try to break through the barriers.

My skills were honed in my career journey. As a desk receptionist, I had many resume enhancement opportunities. Many call them other duties as assigned. Today, after many positions in healthcare, I stand tall and use my voice and position as access director to ensure our providers and fellow employees meet the needs of our patients. Many have been afforded the opportunity to turn the picture to focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Hopefully, this post will help someone drum up the courage to become an access champion. Patients need us to use our voices to make calls to nudge and become uninhibited access pioneers and sometimes go where no one wants to go. 

Organizational Readiness

Hiring the Best

Start with asking why would I have to assess organizational readiness? It takes real commitment and genuine honesty to get ready for this journey. Is your organization prepared to admit it has an opportunity for improvement? Is your organization willing to tell the CEO our access is worse than it looks on paper? It does not diminish your ratings to be transparent. It's refreshing to employees and patients when an organization says we are sorry we failed at unrestricted access. And be ready to answer what you are going to do to fix it. Access readiness starts with a solid strategy and creating a roadmap that forges a culture that is willing to do what it takes to remove access barriers. Many organizations have refused to look at access barriers from all angles.

Creating a culture begins with hiring the best employees and ensure they are a fit for your organization. That takes a commitment from the CEO, human resources, organizational training and front line managers. This commitment means it is imperative to share in the interview what open access means for your organization. It means each employee will identify and communicate access barriers. It means each level in the organization welcomes a candid conversation and real solutions. It means understanding your patient population and needs. It means looking at access demand based on the healthcare needs of your market share. It means removing gatekeepers that block access.

You can identify a gatekeeper very quickly it's those who have put themselves at the gate to physician templates and manage the schedules with a tight rein. It's those who use blocks to superimpose demand. Let me try to explain it's those who change templates and create blockage based on how they feel that day rather than patient demand. It's those who are unwilling to tell providers we have a wait list of patients when they want to close a schedule. It means each person looking at themselves and ensuring he or she is not the problem. We can begin by assessing system access and ensuring there is a robust change management process in place. It means only hiring employees and providers that have a commitment to unrestricted access.

Organizational readiness means that we put the brave passionate few at the helm. We look past friendships and our ideas of who looks like us. It may involve coaching and grooming someone at the bottom who has a passion for unrestricted access and loyalty to your brand. Look past the pedigree and title it may be an old sixteen-year-old teen mother such as myself who protects your brand and drives efficiencies and revenue behind the scene without fanfare and a hidden agenda.

Hiring the best means looking closely at individuals who have a commitment to serve. Targeted questions can be asked such as what excites you in your career, or what excites you about coming to work daily. Allowing behavioral based interviewing to hear how applicants think about healthcare.

I recently interviewed someone who said the reason they applied was to check this off of their bucket list. I had someone say I want to move to a Vice President position and when I asked why it was important to have that role the person indicated its next in the career ladder. These are our future leaders those who have no passion for the patient experience those that have great tag lines and lack the real commitment to unrestricted healthcare access.

The healthcare environment is like no other place of employment it's an opportunity to help change a life. Imagine if we targeted individuals with a personal commitment to a healthy society.  

Training Tools for Success

As organizations are busy managing the day to day operations, it's important to take a step back and set each employee up for success. Training tools for success include substantial training at every level that begins with an interactive new hire orientation. It means a call to attention that creates a passion for unrestricted healthcare access before starting in his or her work area. It means creating a standardized training system that includes soft skill training at every level. Do not assume everyone knows what service excellence means. Hire managers that can influence employees to own their success. Train employees on the business of healthcare and how they align as an individual contributor to the success and downstream revenue. Each person in the organization must have organizational training that is required based on his or her job title and area of responsibility.

This publication is certainly not my full opinion.