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Patient access employees are responsible for knowing the general policies and procedures of the hospital, emphasizes Angela Click, patient access services manager at OSF St Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, IL.
"Surveyors have every right to ask the front-end staff questions in regard to these polices," Click says. Surveyors could ask about fire evacuation plans, hand hygiene, handling of protected health information, for example, or they could ask department-specific questions about ongoing competencies and how education on patient privacy regulations is provided.
Click makes sure members of her patient access staff are familiar with the basics of all these policies. "I also make sure if they are not sure of the exact wording of the policies, they know how to easily access the information through our portal," she says. "This way, they are prepared for any questions that come their way."
Patient access leaders should regularly review questions surveyors might ask of patient access employees during surveys, advises Gail Scoates, BSN, MSN, RN, regulations and standards coordinator at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. Scoates gives these examples of questions surveyors are likely to ask and appropriate responses from patient access staff:
• How does your organization deal with angry or verbally abusive patients or visitors?
"We have policies to direct staff actions. Part of those policies are to provide education and training, and processes for staff to call for help if this should occur. Our registration staff is involved in this."
• What does the organization do for training and responding to disasters?
"This is part of orientation education for all employees and yearly education updates, including registration staff."
• How does your staff communicate with patients and visitors who do not speak English?
"We primarily use InDemand video remote interpreting services. We have three computers. If those are all busy, we have a backup process using interpreters via phone. Registration staff is part of this education."
• What training has your staff received for infection control purposes?
"We have orientation, annual education, and many reminders throughout the year. The registration staff is very involved in this during flu season. We place hand gel, masks, and tissues at our desks."