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Four Reasons to Focus on Patient Access Education to Improve Revenue Cycle

In a recent HealthStream Webinar, “Thinking Outside the Box: Leveraging Education to Drive Patient Access Initiatives,” two revenue cycle staffing experts from our partner nThrive—Thomas Ormondroyd, President of Education & Analytics, and Erica Franko, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Advisory Services—discussed the value of education for patient access staff as a way to improve revenue cycle performance. Their presentation offered four reasons patient access training merits a stronger focus:

  1. Lack of Training May Inadvertently Lead to Increased Denial Rates

    Ormondroyd offers, “There’s more responsibility and expectations on” patient access even though “we haven’t really done a good enough job of providing education and knowledge” to them, and their responsibilities include “many detailed and difficult things like collecting money, giving financial counseling, and doing major tasks that have a significant impact on the revenue cycle.” He adds that a majority “of claim denials could be prevented… by doing a better job of verifying and gaining patient information.”

  2. Financial Communication Experts Required in a Patient Consumerism Environment

    Franko shares how the increased prevalence of high-deductible health plans is having an impact on patient access, telling listeners, “There are new functions, new focus on upfront collections, and in the way the patient interacts with your staff.” Ultimately, “We are asking the front-line staff or patient access colleagues to do more… to understand the complex regulatory landscape [and] their role in communicating with patients some of the requirements around their new health plans.”

  3. Healthcare Organizations Have Underinvested in Patient Access Education

    According to Ormondroyd, the communication burden that falls on patient access is significant. “We expect the staff to be able to explain regulations, the billing process, cost and expenses, insurance, and coverage.” In the face of this responsibility, however, he admits that “across our industry, we do not offer the necessary education for this group.” When it comes down to reducing claim denials, a significant number of the errors “could have been taken care of if the individual patient access employee was trained to do some of these things, provided the process and methodology to do it, and understood why it’s important.”

  4. Patient Access is Essential for a Better Healthcare Experience
    Whether it is setting expectations about financial obligations, collecting money owed, or verifying patient information, patient access staff are at the heart of the care process. Franko reminds us, “At nearly every step along the patient access journey, we have a chance to create a positive or negative interaction.” For this reason, it is imperative to focus on “the way that we train and retain our staff members because we really rely on them to be the gatekeepers, not only to the revenue cycle but to our system.”

Develop and Improve the Patient Access Workforce with Transitions

The nThrive Education Transitions Program is a solution to the staffing challenges for patient access. Ormondroyd emphasizes the value of looking outside healthcare for candidates and offers, “Some of our clients who have been building their own patient access staff are finding that these new folks don’t have the baggage, and they’re performing at a higher level than experienced individuals.” The Transitions Program takes “very committed, dedicated individuals who had really good customer service backgrounds and provides two to three weeks of hard-core training about the basic core process of healthcare, revenue cycles, billing, etc.” Investing in candidates in this way helps to reduce turnover in patient access, which has the highest attritional rate nationally of any role in revenue cycle. It definitely pays off when “at the end of it, you have someone that’s far more qualified. They’re going to have fewer errors and denials coming from their work, and better engagement with the patients” because they have a higher level of understanding.

Access the Full HealthStream Webinar recording here.

Learn more about HealthStream’s revenue cycle solutions at healthstream.com/RevenueCycle.

About Our Experts

Thomas Ormondroyd is President of Education & Analytics at nThrive. In his role, Ormondroyd oversees all education, data and analytics solution development, management, marketing, sales and channel partnerships for the company’s education and analytics business. Ormondroyd and his team created nThrive Education Revenue Cycle and Clinical Solutions to deliver the most comprehensive revenue cycle and clinical education in healthcare.

Erica Franko is the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Advisory Services at nThrive. Erica is an experienced healthcare executive with experience in consulting strategy and operations in progressive leadership roles. Her current role includes enhancing solutions to help clients understand and address issues within the revenue cycle that impact profitability and patient satisfaction. The Business Helps team works with clients to optimize the full portfolio of nThrive patient-to-payment solutions beginning with patient’s first interaction with the provider and following the process through revenue recognition.

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