For SNFs of All Sizes, Internal Communication Matters — Here’s Why
All too often, SNFs become hyper-focused on the day-to-day tasks involved with providing patient care, keeping insurance companies up-to-date, working with patients’ families, and trying to get information for billing purposes. It’s a lot to handle, which is why efficient and meaningful communication (both internal and external) can quickly fall by the wayside.
You’ve got work to do — believe us, we understand that. Being an SNF in today’s complex healthcare environment is no easy responsibility. Not only are you trying to help patients and manage a business, but you’re also trying to meet your compliance obligations.
However, maintaining effective communication within your organization can quickly derail nearly every single one of your efforts — creating negative experiences for patients, frustrations with your team, and questions when it comes time to look at the numbers. Let’s take a look at a few ways communication really matters.
Internal Communication Impacts Your Daily Workflow
First up is perhaps the most obvious impact of communication: the daily workflow. Across your organization, whether you’re a single, independently owned SNF or an operator of more than 50 facilities across the country, you have teams of people trying to accomplish specific tasks. It’s a fact that many of those tasks are interconnected, relevant, and even dependent on one another to achieve results. Not all of those tasks are interconnected or relevant to one another, but many are.
For example, a patient’s billing level can’t be changed without an understanding of what’s been done for that patient that may require them being taken up a level — plus, in a lot of cases, an approved authorization from the payer. If a clinician is too busy or a consistent workflow isn’t in place to let someone in billing know that they performed a specific treatment, especially if it’s one that wasn’t covered in a contract, how is billing going to know that a) they need to charge for that service and b) they may need an authorization through the insurance company?
It’s simple: they’re not. The service will go unrecorded and thus unbilled. Worse, this may continue on and on — resulting in countless other unaccounted-for services or treatments.
Another example: Case management is present when specific services need to be administered, resulting in a higher billing level change. After working with the insurance company to obtain the right authorization, case management sends the approval in an email to the billing team to notify them of the billing change — only to find out later that billing didn’t act on the email. Why? Maybe they were too busy. Maybe they just had too many emails. Either way, the billing level change wasn’t properly and effectively communicated, so nothing happened.
And when it comes time to look at the numbers, SNFs may be wondering why they’re doing so poorly on managed care cases. If you don’t have a system in place that keeps all your team members in touch and accountable, you’re going to struggle.
Internal Communication Impacts Your Bottom Line
While most of your team is focused on providing patient care, you as an SNF leader or owner are going to be focused on the numbers. But if your teams aren’t communicating, and important information isn’t being routed seamlessly between the right parties, you’re going to feel the challenges of ownership and leadership tightening their grip. Worse, is that it might be completely unnecessary.
You might even already be operating at a strong profit — it’s just that your team is too busy to take a moment to communicate the services provided, treatments administered, and so on, so charges aren’t being captured. When you’re looking at a month-end report, and your cost-to-revenue equation is out of whack, you’re going to wonder what’s happening.
If your SNF is struggling with internal communication issues, we encourage you to seek a solution that automates and streamlines as much of it for you as possible. It’s easy to expect your team to be good communicators, but remember, they’re there to provide patient care and manage certain functions. It’s your responsibility as an SNF leader or owner to take the lead toward a positive resolution. Put technology to work to address your internal communication challenges, and empower your team to continue doing what they do best.