Are you meeting with human resources staff to justify pay increases for patient access? Lauren Delpino, manager of the Patient Service Center at Chester, PA-based Crozer-Keystone Health System, offers these two “talking points”:
• Patient access sets the tone for a positive patient experience.
“Use patient satisfaction comments and scores as supporting documentation,” suggests Delpino. She reminds human resources staff that for every patient treated, “there was a patient access team member working to ensure that the patient had a positive experience.”
• Competitive salary and wages are needed to recruit top candidates.
This statement is especially true in a competitive market, says Delpino.
“Do your own market research. Talk to staff that have left for other institutions,” she recommends. “Track how many left for more money.”
To get these eye-catching data, patient access leaders can ask this question when employees give notice: “If you were making more money, would you have looked outside of the organization for another position?”
Identify all tasks done
Delpino created a flow chart of every task that patient access is involved in, “from the pre-encounter to resolution of the patient’s responsibility,” including the following:
- collecting patient demographics;
- verifying insurance eligibility;
- discussing the patient responsibility and what to do if the patient needs assistance;
- entering the correct ICD-10 code;
- checking medical necessity;
- checking CPT codes;
- checking to see if the patient has the insurance coverage for the service that is being performed;
- determining if the patient needs an authorization/referral, calling the ordering provider to obtain authorization/referral, and explaining to patients why you have to call their doctors;
- verifying that what is on the script is what is ordered;
- obtaining signatures and explaining consent forms;
- handling follow-up calls regarding statements from various medical professionals that patients receive;
- identifying barriers to a positive patient experience, such as the need for an interpreter or wheelchair.
Incentives are an option
If across-the-board pay increases aren’t possible, incentives are another option. Delpino suggests giving incentives to registrars who do any of the following:
- become certified;
- are top collectors;
- are mentioned repeatedly in patient surveys;
- are complimented for excellent service;
- have the lowest percentage of errors per registrations completed.
If an incentive program is not implemented correctly, however, “while the program was set up with good intentions, it will not produce the desired results,” says Delpino. She says patient access leaders should consider these five points:
“Incorporate the type and frequency of the metrics that are being measured,” says Delpino.
“This allows staff to track their progress toward the goal,” says Delpino.
“If it is only offered for one quarter and cannot be continued, morale and trust in the organization will decline,” says Delpino.
“The metric cannot be such that no one would meet the benchmark to qualify for the incentive,” says Delpino.
“If the access team is not coaching to success, staff become disillusioned,” warns Delpino. “They will not feel supported.”
- There must be clearly defined parameters and time periods.
- Managers should provide frequent and defined feedback to the staff in a standard report card format.
- The organization must commit to making the program sustainable.
- Incentives must be attainable for all staff members.
- Patient access managers must allocate time to measure and track the metrics and to coach the staff to be successful.