Arizona and Florida
Key Drivers: Space, Employee Retention
Mayo Clinic began its work-from-home program in Patient Access in 2011. Other positions such as care managers and clinical documentation specialists were already working from home at the time, but the Clinic had not yet expanded the model to pre-service functions. Patient Access initiated the program in preregistration and later brought on precertification, scheduling, coding and billing. Not including coding and billing, the Clinic now has 72 employees working from home in Arizona and 32 in Florida.
The catalyst for Mayo’s move to a work-from-home model was the need to free up additional hospital space for clinicians to see patients. By sending home supporting roles that are not patient-facing, the Clinic can continue to expand and provide adequate space for clinical practice. The model also offered cost savings for the Clinic, as the cost of office space is estimated to be at least $10,000 in real estate per employee per year.
Mayo has found the program to be a win-win for the Clinic and for employees who see teleworking as a benefit of the job. Patient Access has observed higher employee satisfaction and very little turnover since implementing the program and currently has a wait list of employees who want to work from home. Registration, admissions, financial counselors and other staff who meet with patient face-to-face will continue to work on-site, but the clinic is continuing to identify supporting functions that fit the remote model. Transplant support staff, for example, who conduct financial counseling with transplant and donor patients will soon move to remote offices. Employees that support direct and emergency room admissions with prior authorization and insurance verification are also working from home.
The work-from-home program has allowed Mayo to retain several employees who would otherwise have had to leave due to moves for spouse job transfers, family situations, etc. Patient Access worked with Mayo’s HR team to determine if these employees could continue to work in their new states based on employment laws. They also established expectations that the employee’s work hours would have to match that of the Clinic’s time zone. In cases where Mayo was able to retain these employees, it helped reduce turnover and save the cost of training new employees.
When establishing its program, Patient Access collaborated with IT to support the set-up of remote employees. Each employee receives a packet of equipment along with a resource person and step-by-step instructions on setting up a space at home. The packet includes a home office checklist with security requirements such safeguarding PHI and maintaining a paperless environment. Employee must sign-off on the checklist, as well as sign a teleworking agreement to meet all requirements.
Program success has been determined by measuring productivity and compliance of at-home employees using the same scorecard used for on-site agents. Leaders track productivity measures such as the number of registrations, pre-registrations/insurance verifications and estimates performed each hour. Patient Access has observed an increase in productivity from 10 percent up to 28 percent.
To keep at-home staff engaged, department leaders conduct house visits and team gatherings throughout the year. Leaders involve remote staff in discussions about new processes and procedures, using communication tools such as Skype, video conferencing and remote to desktop for staff meetings and training. At-home agents are also encouraged to come on site periodically for continuing education and assistance with training new employees.