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Practice Administrator Q&A: CPSS Program Boosts Staff Confidence

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:00 AM

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Written by: BSM staff

In honor of March being Certified Patient Service Specialist® Appreciation Month, BSM Consulting recently interviewed Carol Wittmer, practice administrator of the Eye Center of Northern Colorado, about this professional certification program. Since the Fort Collins-based practice joined the program in September 2012, 21 current and former staff members have become CPSS certified. Here is what Wittmer said about CPSS:

Carol Wittmer, practice administrator for the Eye Center of Northern Colorado

BSM: What first intere­sted and motivated you to register your practice for the CPSS program?
Wittmer: In ophthalmology there are certifications for almost every job (i.e., technicians, opticians, billing/coding), but previously there was no formal way to recognize front-line employees. Patient service representatives basically need to know about every aspect of ophthalmology: insurance participation, triage, glasses, contacts, medications, and scheduling. It is wonderful to be able to recognize those staff members and their skills with a certification that acknowledges their abilities.

BSM: As an administrator, what value do you see in your staff members becoming CPSS certified?
Wittmer: There is enormous value! You see your staff’s confidence increase exponentially when members submit their test and see that passing score. Becoming certified provides a great sense of pride for them. Staff members have also commented that the CPSS courses have helped tremendously in their overall understanding of ophthalmology and patient flow, from check-in to check-out. It has really helped tie everything together for them.

BSM: What has the response been so far from individuals who have achieved certification?
Wittmer: They feel recognized for the scope and importance of their jobs. They get excited to put “CPSS” behind their names on their business cards. It seems to motivate them to want to increase their knowledge even more and to help co-workers learn more, as well.

The Eye Center of Northern Colorado currently has 13 CPSS certificants on staff, including the five individuals pictured above.

BSM: How do you engage staff and maintain momentum with the program from registration to certification?
Wittmer: CPSS certification has become a requirement for our front desk staff. During the hiring process, we explain the tools provided on the BSM website and how beneficial the site is in learning the job. After an employee becomes certified, he or she receives a gift card and is recognized at a staff meeting. Our employees are very dedicated to the doctors they work for and want to show the doctors how proud they are of what they do. The doctors showing their appreciation goes a long way in motivating staff to continue learning.

BSM: How do you think the CPSS program has benefited the Eye Center of Northern Colorado?
Wittmer: It has empowered staff members. They feel like they are on the same level as other departments instead of a level below. They provide incredible patient service because they have the tools to properly triage emergencies, schedule with specialists, explain insurance benefits, etc. Their increased skill and confidence levels help to ensure that patients have a great experience from beginning to end.

BSM: Is there anything else you would like to add on this topic?
Wittmer: The CPSS courses have been a fantastic means of helping our employees learn more about ophthalmology. Employees who want to invest further can use the courses to expand their abilities and even transition to other departments in the practice. The courses pertain to their jobs at the front desk, but they also get very detailed courses on subspecialties, testing equipment, and other areas that they are not familiar with or trained to use, but are frequently asked about by patients. We appreciate being able to recognize our staff with certification because they have one of the hardest — and sometimes least appreciated — jobs at the Eye Center.

YOUR TURN: Is your practice a CPSS member? If not, learn more about this valuable program here.

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