Internet Reference for Medical Credentialers

If you haven’t visited Jennifer Jarvis’  Medical Staff Internet Reference Guide recently, it’s worth another look.  Jennifer has moved the site to a dedicated domain and made some navigation improvements.

The Guide includes a collection of links to Licensing Boards, Board Certification, Hospitals, Medical Schools, Online Verifications, etc., and remains a valuable tool for medical staff credentialers.

http://medstaffreference.com/

 

Telework – Gaining Acceptance in Healthcare

Desk If your employer offered you the opportunity to work from home one or two days per week, would you jump at the chance? According to a compensation survey of 1,400 CFOs conducted by Robert Half International, 46% said telecommuting is second only to salary as the best way to attract top talent.

Telecommuting, i.e., working from a remote location, is growing in acceptance: IDC predicts there will be 9.9 million telecommuters by 2009. A wide variety of organizations are offering telecommuter support; healthcare is the industry in which telecommuting is most common, followed by the science and technical services arena. The US Government provides support for its teleworkers at www.telework.gov.

Just days after the levees in New Orleans burst, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sent out a government-wide memo urging telecommuting as a way to alleviate a post-Katrina gas shortage. Teleworking advocates hope that widespread concern over rising fuel prices will prove to be the tipping point needed to bring about a telecommuting revolution.

With broadband access to the internet nearing 70% for active web users, remote connection speed is no longer a roadblock. Security issues remain a concern, with IT managers working to ensure that each remote PC accessing the corporate LAN keeps pace with the company’s security guidelines.

Companies understandably worry about the expense of setting an employee up to work at home or at another remote site. While there are expenses to be considered, organizations that utilize teleworkers are also likely to see a reduction in costs for office space, parking, utilities, etc. It’s worth noting that analysis has shown that it can cost as much as $2,500 just to move an employee from one cube to another.

Those experienced in managing teleworkers agree that establishing a clear policy is an essential first step. Monster.com offers advice on Creating a Telecommuting Strategy:

With the right strategy in place, implementing a telecommuting program for your company can be a step in the right direction for all parties. Taking the time to carefully craft a telecommuting strategy that meets the needs of both employee and employer will lay a strong foundation for shared telecommuting success.

Monster advises developing a telecommuting agreement for eligible employees to review and sign, including:

  • A definition of the telecommuter’s work schedule
  • An outline of the probationary period, if applicable
  • A list of all work-related items provided by the company
  • Acknowledgement that the employee will take precautions to protect company items from damage or theft
  • Acknowledgement that the employee will return all company property upon termination or resignation of employment
  • Acknowledgement that the employee is responsible for addressing legal or tax-related issues that arise from his or her use of the home as a place of business

In Make Telecommuting Work For Your Business, Monte Enbysk, a lead editor for the Microsoft.com Network advises "Trust your workers by focusing on the results, not the process." Remote work days are often used for projects that require a high level of concentration and few interruptions.

Although some positions lend themselves well to full time telecommuting, most employees prefer to work remotely no more than one or two days a week. Commuting to the main office on a regular basis gives employees "face time" with their co-workers and supervisors, and allows the interaction that most people need in order to feel like part of a team.

Obviously, not all jobs and not all employees are suitable for telecommuting, but when the right elements are brought together both teleworkers and supervisors report increased productivity and improved job satisfaction. The benefits of telecommuting may be especially attractive to employers seeking non-monetary ways to reward their top performers.

The movement toward electronic storage for healthcare records of all sorts opens increased opportunities for telework in healthcare. In the world of medical staff services, the possibility of working remotely creates significant interest in developing paperless processes.

The benefits of telecommuting in the face of disaster are discussed in Telework is critical for a successful business continuity plan in case of disaster by The International Telework Association & Council (ITAC).

ITAC lists among the advantages of using telework as part of a business continuity plan strategy in case of crisis: increased agility, minimized disruption, speedier rebound, less revenue loss, and distributed human capital. Some business analysts feel that a telework force is key to organizational flexibility and disaster recovery.

With advances in technology and connectivity, telecommuting will continue to increase in popularity and effectiveness. After all, there’s something to be said for working at home in your bunny slippers…Bunnyslp_2


References:

Commuterchallenge.org
IDC.com
Make Telecommuting Work For Your Business – Microsoft
Network World – Telecommuting Security Concerns Grow
Telecommuting Interest Soars – Washington Post
The Telework Coalition
US Government General Services Administration Interagency Telework Site
WorkingFromAnywhere.org

NAMSS 2006 Annual Conference – Atlanta Georgia, September 16-20

Where will the best minds in the nation in credentialing, privileging, medical staff law and management be in September? Without a doubt, gathered at the 30th Annual NAMSS Conference and Exhibition at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta Georgia. Make plans now to be among them, September 16-20, 2006.

The planning session for the 30th Annual NAMSS Conference was held in early January. It’s fascinating to watch a conference program develop through the collaborative efforts of a dedicated group of people.

In just two days the group went from a nearly blank slate to a nearly completed agenda. That efficiency was possible due to the diligent preparation of each of the committee members and their teams over the past few months.

Of course, now the work of making all those plans come together is underway. If you’ve ever organized a state program or large event for your organization, you have some idea of the enormous responsibility involved in planning a national conference.

A number of new presenters will be on this year’s agenda, as well as some excellent returning speakers. The sessions will include information for those who work in hospitals, managed care, healthcare systems and CVO’s. There will also be keynote speakers and special interest programs, and a state leadership session will again be offered.

PreConference days are Saturday and Sunday and will include Professional Development courses for credentialing specialists and medical services management, Credentialing 101, and Allied Health Credentialing. Additional preconference sessions on management and on legal principles are also in the works.

CPCS and CPMSM exams will again be administered in a non-computerized format. Registration deadlines for those exams will be posted on the NAMSS web site.

In addition to program development, we were able to tour the hotel’s spacious conference and exhibit areas. We also noted some wonderful nearby attractions including the new Georgia Aquarium, which is the largest in the world, the CNN Studios, and Underground Atlanta. The Marriott Marquis will be a comfortable and convenient location for our conference.

By the time we left Atlanta we were all talking about the excitement and anticipation of coming back for the conference.

The group spent some time discussing and revising various themes. As this is our 30th conference we wanted the theme to capture both our history and our focus. So join us in Atlanta September 16-20, 2006. We will be “Celebrating 30 Years of Professionalism and Partnerships.

Making Meetings Valuable

I actually like business meetings – sometimes, when they are well run and productive.  Well okay I admit, it’s rare.  But when it does happen, meetings can be useful, enlightening, even inspiring.

Far too often however, I’ve found myself trapped in (uh-oh, I hear ominous music…)

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The Twilight Zone Meeting

The clock in the brightly-lit conference room shows that it’s past time to call the scheduled meeting to order.

Agendas, minutes, and supporting documents are neatly distributed around the table, however most of the seats remain eerily empty.

The TZM Chair speaks "We’ll just wait a few more minutes before getting started…"

I see an acquaintance at the far end of the long expanse of table, idly shuffling through the large, unwieldy, meeting packet. I consider venturing over to see whether my colleague is privy to any interesting tidbits of information that might help pass the time, but note that the TZM Chair is watching closely to see that no one who has entered the meeting chamber moves anywhere near the door. I listlessly begin flipping through the pages of fuzzy, miniscule print attached to the agenda.

Precious minutes of my life tick by.  As I shift uncomfortably in my chair, I realize in a moment of despair that I have been lured into the "Twilight Zone Meeting."  Until the Chair speaks the magic word "Adjourned" I am well and truly trapped…

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Aarrghgh! Been there – way too many times in my career. Poorly run meetings, unprepared members, and ineffective documentation waste valuable resources; not the least of which is time. 

So, in the interest of helping diminish the sphere of the Twilight Zone Meeting chamber, here are a few suggestions for improving meetings and making good use of valuable time:

  • Distribute a written agenda in advance, with notations regarding who is responsible to lead specific presentations or discussions.
  • Unless the material covered is confidential, distribute past minutes along with the agenda, in advance.
  • Format minutes in such a way that action items, and who is responsible for follow-up, are quickly visible.
  • Start on time. If the chronically late know that you’ll wait for them, what incentive do they have to hurry? Not to mention the fact that it’s an obvious statement to those in attendance that their time is not as valuable to you as that of the late arrivers.
  • Close the door when the meeting begins. It draws attention to the latecomers and may serve to encourage them to get into the room before the door is closed.
  • Schedule your most important agenda items first.
  • Don’t allow long, rambling, dissertations by one or two members. Set a realistic time limit for discussion on each item. When the time is up, either make a decision, or if necessary, table the discussion until the next meeting.
  • Be prepared, know the objectives. This is especially vital if you are the Chair.
  • Make sure that supporting documents are brief and clear. Rarely will anyone take time to read a 20 page article.
  • Consider the use of a well-developed Power Point presentation to keep everyone "on the same page." Again, brevity and clarity are key.
  • Discuss the meeting schedule with members, do your best to choose the most convenient time for the majority.
  • Consider the cost. If you call a one hour meeting of ten people who have an average hourly compensation of $35.00, you’ve just spent $350.00. That figure doesn’t include travel time, space usage, document preparation, equipment use, etc. Meetings are expensive. Make sure the objectives are worth the cost.
  • Consider alternate forms of communication, such as conference calls or online meetings.

If you serve as Chair remember that your style speaks for you. Make it your goal to become known as someone who understands how to run an effective meeting and get things done. If you can add a splash of fun into that mix, even better!

Mutiny at the Coffee Shop

If you are a supervisor, how would you like to come to work one morning and find this note publicly posted in the front window for the world to see?

Scott,

Your staff is tired of your attitude, your inconsideration,  your ungratefulness, and lack of trust… We quit…

See the note and read more about this story on Hospital Impact.
Makes me wonder – especially in healthcare, where stress, pressure, difficult people, and difficult working environments run amok, how would our employees describe us? How would they describe their job and their working environment to their friends?

Lessons Learned

Josh Dobbelstein drives as close to the middle of the road as he can. Over on the side… he knows the enemy hides bombs.

Just the other day he dove to the floor of a vehicle he was riding in when he mistook the sound of a trucker hitting his brakes for a machine gun.

They are the kinds of precautions that keep soldiers at war alive. But Dobbelstein left Iraq more than 16 months ago, and for him they are vestiges of a war he can’t seem to shake.

CNN News reported this week on a clinic that helps veterans cope with the after-effects of war.

There is a lesson here for all of us. Sometimes people act irrationally for very rational reasons. When someone reacts in a manner we deem strange, it’s good to consider that they may in fact be coping the best way they can with the after-effects of some unseen experience or trauma.

I tell this story from time to time to illustrate that point. It’s not one of my proudest moments…

During the late 1980′s I was an evening-shift Emergency Department patient registrar in a community hospital. You know, the person who unsympathetically demands your social security number, date of birth and insurance card shortly after you stumble through the door in pain, throwing up, bleeding and/or gasping for breath. I was pretty good at it. I entered data into the computer system efficiently, and managed to remain relatively calm while the poor patients suffered all the afore-mentioned woes.

There were patients I knew by name.
"Hi Mr. Jones, what seems to be the problem this evening?" (As opposed to say, three nights ago when you were here last.)

There were also patients that broke my heart.
The sixteen-month-old who toppled off a patient cart to the floor in one of the treatment rooms while her mother stood in the far corner shaking her head and saying "I’m not picking her up. I told her to sit still, maybe this will teach her to listen!"  (Yes, Social Services was called in case you’re wondering.)

The hollow-eyed parents of a teenager killed while driving home from school on a sunny Spring afternoon. The combination of too much speed and too little experience irrevocably changed their lives in one deadly instant.

One person remains vivid in my memory for a different reason.
He was Vietnamese, probably in his late twenties. He came in to provide information on a patient who had arrived by ambulance. Anyone who has ever worked in an ED knows that speed is of the essence when generating a computerized chart for a patient already undergoing emergency evaluation and treatment.

Suddenly, and for no reason that I could fathom at the time, he began speaking excitedly in Vietnamese. In apparent fear he jumped up and literally ran out of my office, and right out of the building. I was… perturbed. I stood there feeling quite aggravated, all the while picturing the ED nurses with their hands extended asking "What’s taking so long? We need that chart!"

When he finally returned a few moments later and offered absolutely no explanation for his odd behavior I rather brusquely finished my task and ran the completed chart back to the waiting clinical staff.

Some time later that day that I figured it out.

His sudden agitation and run for the door coincided with the Life Flight helicopter landing just outside of the ED, a sound I was so used to it barely registered. Vietnam; helicopters; and someone who would have been a young, frightened boy in the late 60′s or early 70′s. How narrow my view of the world not to have grasped the connection sooner. Life_flight

I realized later that as soon as he watched the helicopter land he calmed down and came back into the building. As for offering an explanation, how does one explain fearing the sound of helicopters blades cutting through the air to someone who has never had reason to fear?

It’s a lesson I won’t forget.

New Orleans – March 2006

Some of my family recently returned from a volunteer relief trip to the hurricane ravaged areas of Louisiana.  Conditions in much of the New Orleans area are difficult to say the least, even for volunteers who know they will return home within a few days or weeks to comfortable beds, running water, and electricity.

Of course not all the neighborhoods look like these pictures taken approximately two weeks ago, but these photos certainly provide a sobering reminder of just how much remains untouched in this devastated region.

Standing on these streets, they tell me that one feels the silence.  No conversation or laughter, no children playing, no barking dogs, no televisions, no traffic; just a pervasive, forlorn, stillness.

One wonders whether the sounds of a neighborhood will ever be heard here again.

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