Lynette Byrnes
Practice Administrator, Chairperson
NORM Education Committee
Andrea Zlatkus, CPM, CHRC
Editor-in-Chief, Rheumatology Practice Management
President, NORM

We see the National Organiza­tion of Rheumatology Man­agers (NORM) Listserv light up daily with members’ practice management questions as well as their ideas and suggested best practices. From understanding the latest healthcare regulations to training new staff members, we know we are in this together. We all struggle to meet the day-to-day requirements of managing a busy rheumatology practice. Time management is an essential skill set, and we must balance our various roles in order to make the best decisions for our offices.

It takes teamwork to educate staff members on the ever-changing healthcare landscape. What worked today in your practice may not work tomorrow. Knowing this, NORM leadership began to consider some commonly asked questions: How can we streamline processes to help practices become more efficient? How do we as administrators manage the newest biologics and therapeutic regimens? Where can we locate the latest forms? All of these and other questions underscored the need for a tool to capture the answers that NORM members have shared, as well as a resource to develop and disseminate that tool to the greater membership.

An idea took shape: We needed a visual work tool, perhaps something that linked disease states to accepted decision pathways. The tool could serve as a platform to educate staff members on procedures and workflows, bringing together information gathered over years of experience. This led the organization to create the NORM Education Committee (NEC), led by Lynette Byrnes, committee chairperson, to spearhead the development of an educational resource tool.

“It took a village of administrators to create these robust tools,” Ms Byrnes said. She leads the committee with co-chairperson Andrea Zlatkus and their team: Theresa Arlen, Christine Mann, Colleen Taylor, SaVonna Staton, and Judith Stovall. “I was so thrilled to see the responses from volunteers in the membership to help with this endeavor. It was an honor to work with my fellow colleagues. When the me turns into we, what is created is amazing.”

NEC members bring various backgrounds to the committee, including experience with small and large practices as well as in-house and outsourced billing procedures; they also represent practices with infusion suites, radiology services, and in-house laboratories. This collaborative effort creates a powerful team. NORM’s goal was, and continues to be, membership engagement; the NEC is no different. Committee members came together, sharing their knowledge and pearls of wisdom to develop a tool that captures best practices.

Online Education Portal

“The goal for the education committee is to bring educational value to the NORM webpage for its membership—a place to go to find a quick answer,” Ms Byrnes said. “We all work hard to meet the demands of constant changes in the medical field, from Meaningful Use to ICD-10. This is where the need to create an educational portal came into play. Having these dynamic tools as a resource can lessen the administrative burden placed on practices on a daily basis.”

The NEC Education Portal Project quickly evolved into 2 separate PowerPoint presentations, encompassing a plethora of information. The material was divided into a Practice Workflow Tool and Rheumatology Disease Workbook. The Workflow Tool contains a robust program that takes staff members through daily procedures such as Check-In, Evaluation and Management, Ancillary Care, Billing, and Checkout. The website provides users with links that connect to the latest information. The Workbook increases the knowledge of new and existing staff members, giving them a basic understanding of rheumatologic diseases that physicians treat on a daily basis (Figure 1). The Workbook also lists drugs and biologics commonly used in the treatment of these diseases, with links to pharmaceutical websites for additional information (Figure 2).

These 2 presentations were designed to serve as a tool to train staff members and empower them to create strong procedures and checklists. In addition, users can review their own in-house processes and use NEC-suggested guidelines to accommodate specific practice needs. An Office Forms section allows users to retrieve forms that have been shared on the Listserv by NORM members. In the future, the Educational Portal will also contain the following sections: Meaningful Use, ICD-10, Human Resources, NEC News, and Hot Topics.

Priceless Membership Benefits

Annual membership in NORM provides access to these powerful tools. Whether an existing employee needs a refresher on a billing matter, or a new hire needs a run-down of a process checklist, the NEC has it covered. The committee has worked hard to include all key information in the Education Portal and to focus on specific problem areas in an effort to fulfill all of a practice’s needs. This project will continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of practice management; NEC is committed to bringing the latest information to its members, and will reach out to the NORM membership for expertise in numerous subject matters to enhance the NEC portfolio.

We hope that members find these tools beneficial. If you have a topic that you would like to see developed, or if you would like to share your know-how in a particular subject area, please contact an NEC member, whose e-mail addresses are on the NEC webpage (available through Log onto the members-only page drop-down and select Education for more information.

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