Healthcare management faces a range of challenges, and among them is the process of onboarding and orienting new employees. This initial engagement serves as a portion where essential information is shared within a positive setting and a tone that fosters feelings of comfort, confidence, inclusivity, and consistency.
So, the applicant interview is over and it went well, you have received feedback from others who interviewed the candidate and you’ve made an offer, the candidate has accepted the position and now things get moving. During the interview and while making the offer you’ve built a comfort zone with the applicant and others within your department feel similar. While you did cover the organizational mission, objectives, and departmental goals during the interview, it’s worth highlighting that the onboarding or orientation process for new employees plays a pivotal role in ensuring the success of both the individual employee and the broader team within your department. Given this significance, revisiting the mission, goals, and purpose is essential for fostering a strong foundation and shared understanding.
Before the new employee starts their employment at your hospital or healthcare organization, ensure you have a complete consistent checklist of the “preboarding” computer and system items that need to be taken care of. The initial day of employment is important for both the employee and the employer. To avoid creating a negative impression, it’s crucial to ensure that the essential software and tools are readily accessible and prepared.
Whether they work onsite or remotely use a checklist for their laptop or workstation items that might include the following:
Compile a set of Policies and Procedures (P&Ps) that require review with your new employee. This should include all internal coding and CDI policies and corporate or company policies. I recommend conducting a face-to-face or online platform review of the P&Ps, allowing opportunities for questions and clarifications. Then provide all the P&P in electronic format so they can be saved on the employee’s computer/laptop as a resource and/or reference. You may have to allow time for the new employee to read these P&Ps over thoroughly if not doing this face to face and be sure to solicit questions or clarification from the employee after. There may be some online compliance courses that are required for the employee to complete within the first 30 days of employment, so be sure to schedule or plan for this and again solicit questions from the employee. Be sure to discuss time and attendance expectations as well, particularly when working remotely.
Keep in mind that whether the new employee is stationed at the office or working remotely, it’s important to convey the process and location for receiving their computer. Additionally, provide them with a comprehensive list of all the equipment they will be provided.
If picking up (or delivered if internal):
- Location with detailed directions
- Person and contact information for that individual
If being shipped include:
- Shipping date
- Expected date of arrival
- Ask for confirmation when received
Even if working remotely, show the employee their equipment and how to access different programs; seeing the steps to access and move into and out of different systems will increase one’s comfort level.
During the preboarding make sure you have the correct email address or mailing address to send information. Assign an internal staff member to be the “Internal Trainer.” The Internal Trainer (usually a fellow staff member) will help with processes and the use of the Electronic Health Record.
Draft and send a welcome letter or message (email) with important contacts (name, title, and email):
- Internal Coding or CDI Trainer
- Assigned “Buddy” (Coding and/or CDI)
- Team members (List)
- Your contact
- Onboarding schedule (electronic copy)
A first day or first week “Meet and Greet” should be planned and scheduled to occur. If working remotely, then schedule a WebEx, Zoom or Microsoft Teams call. Review the key stakeholders related to their position and if possible, include some of these individuals in the “Meet and Greet” schedule. Set up a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting with a back-up phone number with the department “trainer” who will focus on the new employee job competency, daily tasks, processes, and communication. Be sure to introduce the employee to the different staff members and what their role is. Set up a meet and greet over lunch with the department “team” and introduce them to their assigned department “buddy” who is someone they can simply reach out to each day to touch bases about the good and the bad of the day. If feasible within the budget, consider arranging a home-delivered lunch for remote employees on their first day. Alternatively, you can organize an internal department gathering as a friendly luncheon introduction. Other suggestions to welcome the new employee can be a company mug, a bouquet of balloons, or a bouquet of flowers or a plant for their desk (even for remote workers).
Bonding or connecting with the new employee is vital and can be more challenging with a remote worker so be sure that regularly scheduled time to planned in the first 2-3 weeks of employment to connect, chat about how things are going, provide clarification, etc., to ensure there is thorough understanding of roles, goals, communication, and processes. This includes any quality reviews or audits that will be conducted, especially for a new employee, the reviews will be more frequent; each week, first 30 days, first 60 days, etc.
Follow up on the onboarding and orientation checklist around 3-4 weeks later and go over the list of items on your orientation check list to see what has been completed and not. Discuss ongoing education, this should include the internal education as well as obtaining or attending outside education.
With the Coding and CDI workforce now working remotely more and more, we need to ensure that these employee’s feel connected. In addition, we need to confirm their ability to work in a remote environment and independent of others as this can greatly impact productivity and even the quality of their work. Discuss and highlight how engaged colleagues and piers are higher performers and do better work for the company and even their clients overall. Having ongoing employee support and communication can impact one’s attitude and interaction with others. Provide once a week 30-minute staff meetings as these can help the new employee to feel more connected to the team. Face-to-face meetings may still be needed once a quarter or more often if needed.
Overall planning is needed to have a consistent and structured onboarding process and communication. Ensuring new employees are onboarded and oriented “thoroughly,” completely and with positive engagement really can make a lasting impression. Always make the necessary adjustments when you have a remote workforce so that the onboarding and orientation meets their needs of the company, department and the employee, this will allow all parties to achieve and sustain employment success.
At MRA, we recognize the importance of providing new employees with a comprehensive onboarding experience. Our goal is to ensure that every team member is onboarded thoroughly, allowing them to provide quality services to our medical coding, auditing, and cancer registry clients. While the onboarding process may seem complex, we have a well-established system in place to make it as smooth and effective as possible. Contact our experts to learn more – We understand that a well-planned and executed onboarding process not only benefits our new employees but also contributes to their success within our organization.
References: ACDIS 2023, Orienting from Afar: Virtual Orientation and Education.