Reporter's notebook: Think twice about cutting jobs

Do providers really need to work on standardization, communication?
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine – Though the pressure to cut costs are at an all-time high for HME providers, any decisions to cut jobs must be made carefully, say industry consultants.

“If you reduce people and your bad debt goes up, you may be taking in $1 million in bad debt to save $100,000,” said Karen Moore, vice president of Ancor Healthcare Consulting.

Put another way, providers don’t want to cut jobs in their billing department, for example, if it will mean decreasing the amount of co-pays they’re able to collect in a given month.

[See also: What's the job report for HME?]

Before providers even think about cutting jobs, they need to examine closely their standardized procedures and processes, Moore says.

“You don’t want to reduce people until you have a really solid foundation,” she said. “Do you have protocols in place that will give you the results that you want, which is more standardized work, more accountability, better performance and less cost?”

Actually, the same goes for adding jobs, Moore says.

“If your bad debt is high, you may think you’d be better off to put more staff in place, but probably your real problem is process, accountability and training,” she said.

Cost-cutting measures, regardless of whether or not they include cutting jobs, can put fear in the eyes of employees, so providers need to keep them up to speed at all times, consultants say.

“They don’t understand the entirety of the industry and what’s going on, so they see and hear things, and they start to make assumptions,” said Kelly Franko, vice president of training and development at Advantage Training. “Instead of doing their job, they’re trying to figure out what’s going on. You lose their efficiency.”

It’s a win-win situation if providers encourage their employees to be “opportunity seekers,” Franko says.

“Instead of doing data entry and keeping their blinders on, they need to see everything that’s going on around them and how it could be one more step to keeping the company above water,” she said.