The skill set for patient access employees has changed dramatically in recent years, and hiring managers must make decisions accordingly. To make smarter choices:
- choose detail-oriented, tech-savvy applicants;
- observe how applicants react to learning there is no down time;
- consider applicants with good customer service skills, even if their experience is limited.
The skill set needed to keep up with new processes and technology in patient access has changed — and so is the type of person who is right for a registrar role.
“Hiring ‘just anyone’ for registration, because of a belief that it’s an area that doesn’t need excellent people with great coping skills and intelligence, will doom a department,” says T.T. “Mitch” Mitchell, president of T.T. Mitchell Consulting, a Liverpool, NY-based consulting firm specializing in revenue cycle and technology.
Detail-oriented, tech-savvy people are a better bet as registrars. “Hiring people who can work better and smarter is needed, since most billing systems are upfront,” Mitchell explains. “If the information is good, the bills go out quicker.”
Mitchell urges hiring managers to put aside thoughts about the type of people patient access has hired in the past. Instead, consider the type of person that can help a department meet short-term and long-term goals.
“Hiring the right people ahead of time means their recommendations will be invaluable to modernizing the process as time goes on,” Mitchell adds.
Christa Kendall, admissions services supervisor for patient registration at Springfield, MO-based CoxHealth, always looks for customer service skills first. “Empathy, understanding, and communications — these attributes not only help in patient care, but promote a cohesive work environment,” she says.
One candidate was very experienced in the department’s software programs, came from a medical background, and presented a great resume — but visibly cringed when discussing contact with patients. “On the other hand, I have had candidates with little job history, but who turned out to have an open attitude and personal drive perfectly suited to the position,” Kendall says.
Heather Bent, a patient access senior manager at Florida Hospital East Orlando, considers the setting in which the registrar will work. The ED and outpatient areas are very different.
Someone who has worked at a restaurant is used to standing, for instance, whereas someone who has worked a desk job is probably more sedentary. Bent is clear with applicants for ED registrar positions about what to expect. “I tell them, ‘There is really no down time in the ED. You are up and mobile. There is no ‘sit down and register someone’ time — you are standing up when you do it.’”
Upon hearing this, some applicants look very nervous and hesitant. Others appear excited. “We are not really looking for someone who says, ‘I don’t mind doing that,’” Bent says. “We want someone who says, ‘Oh, that sounds awesome.’”