“Today’s health care systems are becoming more aware of the importance of the first impression,” says Cheryl Quigley, director of the Center for Health Industry Solutions at Tri-C’s Corporate College & Workforce Solutions. “They have begun to rely on training and certification programs to prepare their front-line employees. The field is growing.”
Many of the same principals upon which good businesses base their success can also be applied to the health care field. For instance, physicians and hospitals consider it six to 10 times more costly to attract new patients than to retain loyal ones who have had a good experience in the past.
Because of the demand for higher levels of customer service in the health care field, a relatively new kind of specialist is becoming a more popular choice for those seeking a vocation or a career. The job title is “patient access specialist,” and a great deal of specialized customer/patient training can be involved.
Smart Business talked to Quigley about the exploding demand for quality patient access service training.
What would you consider to be the key manner in which hospitals can display their concern for individual customers/patients?
Quality care begins with the very first medical staff member a client interacts with. Most often, that employee is the person who records patient information, verifies insurance and performs triage.
With the proliferation of specialized clinics, ambulatory and outpatient services and increasing public reliance upon emergency units, the avenues by which patients gain access to the system are growing.
What are the typical duties of a patient access specialist?
Patient access service employees are responsible for the timely, courteous and accurate registration of patients presenting for health care services. Data gathered at the time of registration include demographic, financial/legal, social, clerical and clinical information.
Patient access service specialists go beyond the traditional role of the admission process to provide a group of services that assist patients in accessing the health care services they need. These include, but are not limited to, financial screening and counseling, insurance verification, processing consents for treatment, screening diagnosis codes and procedure codes for medical necessity, processing the specific physician order through a computerized management system, and monitoring charges for accuracy.
What skills are needed to be successful in the field?
First of all, you really need a passion to provide excellent customer service. You also need knowledge of third-party billing requirements coupled with communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to manage multiple tasks and work independently with minimal processing errors.
What types of training are available?
A patient access specialist (PAS) program provides foundation skills for a career in patient access services and insurance processing. The PAS program includes the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) certification exam for Certified Healthcare Access Associate (CHAA). Courses include communication skills, introduction to computers, medical terminology, patient registration, records management, insurance plans, medical health teams and their roles, and more.
What type of job opportunities fall under the patient access specialist title?
Opportunities for high school graduates, GED holders and employees with associate and bachelor’s degrees range in salary from a low of $8.91 per hour to a high of $15.24 per hour, depending on education and experience levels.
Hospital and medical office jobs available include patient access specialist, patient registration, health care scheduler, precertification representative, admitting coordinator, emergency or clinical department registrant, medical office specialist, and patient financial services representative.
CHERYL QUIGLEY is director of the Center for Health Industry Solutions at Tri-C’s Corporate College & Workforce Solutions. To reach her, or for more information, visit www.corporatecollege.com or phone (866) 806-2677.