Key Drivers: Attracting and Retaining Employees
Moffitt Cancer Center has had a work-from-home program in place for several years, but until recently it was available only narrowly to non patient-facing roles due to the logistical and technical hurdles it presented. But with the launch of a new program in Patient Access, 20 of Moffitt’s 80-member scheduling team now work from home. In the near future, the Center plans to expand the program to other roles such as its 110-member insurance verification and pre-registration team.
The driver behind Moffitt’s move to an at-home offering was the need to attract and retain qualified call center employees for its scheduling team. The Center is located in Tampa, which with 7 percent of its workforce working in the call center industry, is known as the call center capital of the U.S. To attract employees with the skills needed to deliver outstanding customer service in a call center environment, the Center has to be extremely competitive and keep up with what other companies are offering.
Moffitt is in a period of significant growth, with an anticipated growth of 8 to 10 percent this year. Patient Access needed to meet this demand without acquiring additional real estate or additional hospital space. The work-from-home option is allowing Patient Access to reduce its real estate footprint, lowering costs and freeing up more space for clinical areas to expand.
In establishing its work-from-home program, Patient Access leaders wanted to ensure that the technology available to the scheduling team create an identical experience for patients. It needed to be completely transparent to the caller whether the agent they were talking to was working at the cancer center or in a home-based environment.
This proved harder than leaders anticipated. One reason is that the scheduling team uses six different software applications when scheduling a patient. The amount of technology require powerful laptops, each equipped with soft phones and access to the Center’s ACD system, scheduling system and EHR. The IT department used internal lines to mimic the functionality of outside lines and tested how firewalls reacted in different environments. After this process, they got the set up to be identical if not superior to the on-site location.
Another issue was that to adequately safeguard PHI, the work-from-home process needed to be 100 percent paperless. Patient Access worked closely with Moffitt’s IT team, knowing that the project’s success would depend on the technology platform being completely solid and secure in a home-based environment. Along with its privacy regulations, Patient Access also established metrics for productivity and quality and developed ten strict criteria employees were required to meet to work from home.
Moffitt has noted that identifying tools to streamline workflow and create a paperless operation has had a trickle down impact to make entire operation more efficient. A key component to the paperless function is an electronic faxing application that agents use to retrieve documents, modify them on-screen and send them back out. Agents can share information through work lists and pass work along from one agent to the next. With the ability to instantly communicate back and forth, it is as if at-home employees are just a cube over when they may actually be 20 miles away.
Another benefit has been the ability to mobilize at-home agents for micro shifts during times of high call volume. During these shifts, agents who are not on the schedule can log on for a brief shift to help handle the additional volume. This has been a benefit to the department and staff by providing additional hours for remote employees when available.
Patient Access worked with HR when establishing its program and put a telework agreement in place. At-home employees are required to come to the center once a month or every other week for a full day of continuing education and team building. Work spaces are available for employees to use when at the Center. To maintain their level of achievement, Moffitt’s career ladder requires senior employees to mentor at least one new hire in the course of the year, which is another motivation for employees to come to the center and engage with new employees.