Dawn Hulthen Konscol, AuD
Board Certified in Audiology
Director, ENT Ancillary Services
BS: Communicative Disorders, University of Akron, 1995
MS: Audiology, University of Akron, 1996
AuD: Audiology, A.T. Still University, 2012
Why are you interested in serving on the Academy board?
I believe it is important to be a part of our professional organization and contribute back into our field our expertise due to the changes to hearing aid availability, governmental legislative changes, insurance billing, licensure challenges, and defining our future goals and objectives. We as a group weather significant challenges from outside our profession. I believe my position in a large ENT and audiology practice has enabled me to have a diverse perspective that could be beneficial.
Having established and grown a significant extern program has provided me a view of the future through their eyes and a first-hand look at the training and preparedness we are providing future audiologists. As a profession, we need to be better and stronger in our academic training and externship programs to build a group ready to absorb the changes that are coming. We rely on the information provided by our professional leaders and the Academy, and I would like to contribute toward making our Academy a stronger resource and driving force in the future of our profession.
What challenges or key issues do you see for the audiology profession in the next five years? What would you hope to accomplish relative to these challenges during your term on the board?
The next five years will be a defining time our practice of providing services and where our role exists in the health-care/medical community. Changing legislation, marketing, and the variety of places hearing aids are available has diluted public awareness and audiologists as the health-care professionals that can service a significant medical issue. The potential for direct access to audiology for testing, the increasing availability for insurance payments for hearing aids and services, and the never-ending battle of declining reimbursement for our services will require all professionals to advocate to be heard as the experts in audiology.
The new over-the-counter hearing aid legislation will provide a new platform for us to remember who we are. Audiologists provide significant diagnostic and rehabilitative services that considerably overshadow the hardware components we use to achieve patient success. We must stand strong and move forward reminding the medical community and public that we are the first line caregivers for the hearing and balance systems. We need to be consistent and strong in educating the public.
With the decline of audiologists graduating and the need for services, we need to look at how to better prepare and design academic and extern programs to encourage new professionals in our field. Practicing audiologists need to be willing and open to mentor and provide good sites for training the new generation of audiologists. They need to be clinically capable and business savvy enough to drive their locations to be successful for a well-rounded patient care experience.
What I hope can be accomplished as a board member would be to continue to reassess the way we are educating our students, provide stronger resources to our members for business strategies and analytics, and drive public awareness of audiologists. We must continue to work hard as a group to advocate for better laws and regulations for our practice. As a member who utilizes our Academy as the 'go to' for standards, policy, protocols, and practice initiatives/tools, I would like to see it grow in what can be made available and update regularly new information that would validate or help to update any existing practice.
What experience do you have in the planning, evaluation, and implementation of a strategic plan?
I have served as a director of ancillary ENT services in a 700+ employee private practice comprised of ENT and EYE physicians. I manage staffing, budgeting, contract negotiating, billing and payment issues, and patient care issues for the audiology, allergy, and sleep departments. I am responsible to work directly with our CFO, COO, and CEO to plan for growth and expansion in each department and provide support during mergers with new locations. I provide analytical Performa data, policy, procedures and protocols for all my departments that are based on insurance, governmental and patient care guidelines.
I routinely provide presentations and performance updates to shareholders, physicians, and staff. I plan and implement salary guidelines with our human resources department and design and utilize incentive programs for staff. I manage small teams of staff for project initiation, review, and implementation. I have participated in electronic medical records development, training, and support. I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to every aspect of what is required to run and grow ancillary health departments a large corporation and do so within an efficient, patient-driven design.
List any experience in financial management. Describe your experience in developing and implementing a budget for practice, business, department, or organization?
As a director of three ancillary departments, I am required to create yearly budgets for staffing, equipment, growth, costs, and revenue. I utilize analytics daily to provide my staff and administration with productivity updates and compare to budget and previous year. I complete monthly profit-and-loss statement reviews and assist accounting and administration on the accuracy of departmental data. I provide service analysis and productivity trending information to my physicians, administration, and staff on a quarterly basis and provide my staff with individualized performance progress reports. I am responsible for payroll review of 75 staff members.
I have helped to design performance reports and data trending logic for our physicians and EMR systems to provide information on utilization. This information allows us to adjust consistently to keep us lean and efficient. I work with small teams to look at workflow, coding, billing and clinical utilization review to create plans for forwarding growth and clinical planning. I have done this for almost seven years now and grown each of my departments significantly while the answer to shareholders for our utilization.
From the list below, select three competencies you feel best to represent your leadership strengths.
Decision-making, leadership skills, and problem-solving
Based on the three competencies selected above, comment on how you feel these qualities would positively affect your ability to serve on the Academy board.
In my current role as ENT ancillary director, I am daily challenged to keep day to day operations running efficiently and successfully despite whatever obstacles may come. Running three ancillary departments, coverage for all of our clinics and physicians can be quite challenging. It was a long haul to design a good staffing plan with coverage and time-off needs met yet being flexible to absorb the call off and sick calls that occur. Designing outlook calendars for requests and setting up rules and guidelines for requests helped to let staff select time off and limit how staff could be out of office. I have designed daily send outs of who is where and who is covering what extern to keep everyone clear of what their focus is each day. This would highlight problem-solving I do on a regular basis.
CEENTA is a constantly growing and changing practice that requires regular decision-making. We absorb new practices as well as expand internally on a regular basis. Part of this progress is to do the financial and analytic studies to determine when it is time to add staff, equipment, more tests rooms or more coverage. Often, I will meet with staff and physicians to review their office, productivity and data to help them to decide where they need to focus from quarter to quarter. Helping staff and physicians to understand decisions and why based on performance metrics allows them to have a better view of the need for changes or reasons why changes occur. This is also the focus for some of our externs, which is learning the business of audiology. Externs are rarely taught enough about real-world realities of business when they leave school and it places them at a disadvantage
Lastly, I like to believe I provide good leadership skills in a constantly shifting and changing the environment. I try to always consider the final patient outcome as if they were my parent, child, significant other. I encourage staff to do the same. I like auditing new hire performance myself and meet regularly with staff to address any concerns or listen to great ideas and options. One of my biggest challenges in taking this role as director was to learn to communicate better and understand that several staff members don’t care about the objective data, but care that you listen. Being available, invested, and willing to keep an open mind has helped me immensely. I have learned the value of providing written and oral communication and to ask ‘what do you suggest to improve this?’ or ‘how would you manage that’? to gain perspective. I remind everyone that I work with that they have to trust me to do the best job for the department just as I trust them to provide the best patient care; and we all cross-check each other in a healthy, positive patient-focused way.