Hospital Biz: We Are…Patient Access!

April 1, 2018

Patient Access is key for Patient Experience

by Megan Yongue, Director, Patient Access Services

Patient Access, which involves multiple departments in a healthcare system, is an integral part of the Patient Experience. 

In the face of our quickly changing healthcare environment, there is one constant: the Patient Access department. The first interaction patients have often begins with the Access Department, which makes it so necessary to have a friendly face, or voice, to connect with.

At Providence Health the Access staff includes several departments; Centralized Scheduling, Pre-Registration, ED Registration, Central Registration, and Guest Services.

"... proven that skills can be trained, but kindness and warmth must be present on the first impression."

We look for positive representatives with a friendly demeanor when hiring. Exceptional Patient Experience is a number one priority for us. It has been proven that skills can be trained, but kindness and warmth must be present on the first impression. Ultimately, our job is to ease patient concerns in a caring and efficient manner. Empathy is of the utmost importance in order to accomplish this.

When people aren't feeling well it is critical to be fast.

Patients often come to us when they are at their absolute worst. It’s always in the forefront of our minds that they might have just received a startling diagnosis or perhaps they’ve not yet received a diagnosis but are in a tremendous amount of pain with a thousand different “what-if’s” running through their mind. They may be scared or apprehensive, and are in need of our support. Every interview is a delicate situation but errors during this process of data collection can lead to major downstream problems such as delays in patient care due to misidentification, or denied claims.

In an average day, the Patient Access Department handles a variety of requests from many different avenues including physicians, nurses and patients. Not only do the staff schedule and arrive admissions and help coordinate patient transfers between facilities, but they also are shining examples living daily, our High Five Guiding principle of ensuring fiscal responsibility through the provision of financial counseling and clearance, and point of service collection efforts. In order to do this effectively means the staff must be familiar with the procedures of various insurance companies. With more than 22 Blue Cross plans, 13 Medicare/Medicare HMO plans, 6 Medicaid/Medicaid HMO plans, Tricare, Veteran’s Administration, Worker’s Comp, Cigna, Aetna, United Healthcare, and many more, this is no doubt, the most complex and important role of the Patient Access staff. Can you imagine keeping all of those straight?

"...they might have just received a startling diagnosis or are in a tremendous amount of pain with a thousand different “what-if’s” running through their mind."

Last year Providence Health Access staff registered over 9,600 inpatients, 2,600 observations, and 67,000 emergency room visits, and 48,000 outpatients!

As we celebrate National Patient Access Week we acknowledge, and thank our special goodwill ambassadors in these Patient Access Departments for setting the standard of care that all our hospital staff aspires to achieve.