5 ways Renown Health's patient access department is tackling staff shortages

Labor shortages are affecting departments across the healthcare system.

Reno, Nev.-based Renown Health's director of patient access, Lauren Vessie, told Becker's that a lack of staffing in her department ultimately affects patients and the experience they have while in their most vulnerable state. 

"Today’s economy and workforce is very different than it has ever been before, and our entire team has worked very hard on creative solutions allowing us to continue to balance normal operations, providing care to our patients in need, while also protecting our staff from burnout and turnover," she said. 

Ms. Vessie shared the five solutions that her department has found to be most effective in addressing shortages. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

1. Transparency: We have focused on being very open with our entire team on the state of our staffing and what we are doing to rectify the situation. This has allowed our teams to feel they are a part of the solution, and due to this, many have stepped up and altered their schedules to ensure we have coverage where and when we need it. Our front-line team is invested in supporting our patients and adjusting as much as possible to ensure we are available when they need it.

2. Partnerships: Each week, we meet at least two times with our recruiting team to ensure we all remain connected and are rowing the boat in the same direction. We have implemented a tracker that tracks each open requisition we have from the moment they are submitted for approval to the moment the offer is extended and accepted. Our live dashboard gives everyone on our team a real-time look at our current recruiting status and where we need to focus our efforts. Within this partnership, we have also set group goals for many recruiting-influenced data points, such as the total number of open requisitions, to ensure we are all striving for the same outcomes.

3. Growth opportunities: Our team has worked very hard to develop a robust self-paced progression program we call LEVL-Up (Learn. Engage. deVelop. Lead). This program focuses on equipping and empowering our employees with the knowledge and skills to qualify for more senior roles within the department and organization. LEVL-Up is of the utmost importance to our current and future team members. This program ensures we promote engagement and invest in our hardworking patient access representatives, despite our operational challenges outside their control, and also serves as a great discussion point for new potential candidates.

4. Work-life balance: With the changing of times, work-life balance is becoming more prevalent in today’s workforce, and flexible work options are more preferred than ever. Our team is constantly reviewing and assessing our current team’s workload and comparing to work-life balance requests made to our leadership team [i.e. working from home]. It is important to our leadership team that we are taking these requests seriously, and accommodating where we can, to promote engagement within our teams, while also ensuring our patients are still supported in the best manner possible.

5. Job requirements: Recruiting from today’s workforce is much different than previous years. With the changing times, we assess and review our job requirements regularly to ensure we are still aligned with our candidate pool, while also confirming we are filling our positions with individuals who qualify and will be effective and efficient within their role.

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