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Five Recommendations for Patient Access Education

This blog post excerpts the HealthStream article, “Two Key Strategies for Improving Patient Access Success in Healthcare: How Continuing Education and KPI Monitoring Can Make Patient Access More Effective,” by  Mary Beth Rozell, Sr. Director of Revenue Cycle Solutions at HealthStream’s partner nThrive, and Susan Gurzynski-Wells, RHIA , Senior Product Manager, Revenue Cycle, HealthStream.

Price transparency and consumerism have a direct impact on today’s hospital Patient Access operation and more changes are coming in 2021 due to new, stringent Federal and State regulations. Considered the hospital’s “front door,” the role of Patient Access has traditionally begun with the initial patient encounter — where staff confirm patient identity, verify insurance status and more.

Healthcare reform has changed the role of Patient Access substantially, focusing revenue cycle leadership more on the expanding role and expertise of its Patient Access staff. Today’s Patient Access expert is tasked with capturing patient information, as well as educating and supporting a range of individuals—patients, hospital personnel, and providers—helping to ensure comprehensive, quality healthcare service delivery and patient satisfaction.

PATIENT ACCESS PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE REVENUE CYCLE

In many healthcare organizations, the Patient Access team is the unsung hero, yet it often receives the least amount of training. Lack of Patient Access training can be a disrupter to revenue cycle success and patient satisfaction. According to recent studies, upwards of 50% of claim denials are due to errors occurring in frontend revenue cycle processes, such as registration and eligibility. Just a single misstep in any of the necessary functions can result in many downstream consequences, including poor patient care, fraud charges resulting from inappropriate billing, lost revenue due to denials or inadequate copay collection and potential loss of the healthcare organization’s license.

WHAT CAN A COMPREHENSIVE PATIENT ACCESS EDUCATION PROGRAM OFFER HOSPITALS?

According to Darcelle Johnson, Senior Manager of Education Content Development at nThrive Education, providing colleagues with healthcare education that expands their skill sets and future opportunities can help hospitals and healthcare organizations overcome the challenge of employee retainment. She recommends that providers:

  1. Invest in an online education system to keep colleague knowledge current while maintaining standards of proficiency
  2. Perform team assessments to identify knowledge and skill gaps that could affect the revenue cycle
  3. Fill knowledge deficiencies and increase colleague skill levels through course assignments based on assessment results
  4. Provide colleagues with opportunities for growth within your organization by offering certification and badge programs that broaden and enhance skill levels
  5. Offer webinars that help colleagues maintain credentials and stay current with regulatory updates  

Future installments in the series will envision successful patient access training how to achieve it. Download the full article, “Two Key Strategies for Improving Patient Access Success in Healthcare: How Continuing Education and KPI Monitoring Can Make Patient Access More Effective.”

Patient Access Education

All staff with patient access responsibilities must perform effectively to ensure the success of the revenue cycle in its entirety. With the shift toward high-deductible health plans and the growth in newly insured individuals, Patient Access is faced with communicating and collecting increasingly larger amounts for which patients are financially responsible. In addition to patient communications, these employees must fully understand insurance plans, coordination of benefits, medical necessity and ABNS, and the importance of the demographic and insurance information they collect and record. Our training provides Patient Access employees with the necessary training to ensure patients understand their financial obligations and payment options. This information, when communicated properly, increases payment collection and reduces days of AR.

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