Patient access employees interact with patients often for routine inquires, to schedule appointments, and at the time of registration. For each encounter, price transparency is part of the focus at Oklahoma City-based Integris Health.

“It’s an integral part of the standard narrative for the patient access staff when communicating with patients,” says Susan Garcia, system vice president of revenue cycle operations.

The patient’s financial responsibility is outlined in plain language that is easy to understand. “Staff must be savvy in providing an estimate of charges and a comprehensible explanation of the patient’s insurance benefits,” Garcia notes. This includes any out-of-network benefits, copays, deductibles, and even outstanding balances.

“Tailored payment solutions help ease the financial burden patients are now experiencing,” Garcia says. All staff are well-versed in creating personalized payment plans. Also, staff are updated constantly on payer changes. Still, financial discussions do not always go smoothly.

“Staff are aware of escalation protocols and initiate them when necessary,” Garcia says.

Patient access employees are trained in multiple ways, including classroom lectures, virtual courses, observation, and real-time feedback. “Scripting for financial counseling scenarios assists the staff in fostering a consistent and successful patient experience,” Garcia explains. Financial counselors are the ones who handle complex conversations. However, every registrar knows the basics.

“We understand that everyone is experiencing a different set of circumstances,” Garcia explains. “We must be able to meet them where they are.”