Web site for access staff is day-to-day’ resource

Insurance, training materials available

When access personnel at the University Hospital of Arkansas in Little Rock decided they would benefit from having their own resource web site, they sent the proposal to the information technology (IT) department, says Holly Jones, CHAM, a revenue integrity specialist (RIS) given the task of overseeing the project.

"We turned over to IT some documents we use frequently and some manuals we use for education," Jones adds. "Our goal was to try to put materials out there that access personnel would be able to use in their day-to-day jobs."

The idea, she explains, was that a registrar who wanted to know, for example, how to enter federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance into the system or find out more about the requirements of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, could have the information with the click of a mouse.

Jones found, however, that the IT technicians "couldn’t quite grasp the formatting we were looking for" and realized she would have to take a more active role in the project than she had anticipated.

The problem had to do with "how we envisioned [the site], how accessible it would be, and the grouping we wanted things in," she says. "For instance, we have a page called "On-Line Resources" that is divided into agencies and organizations, insurance company web sites, and a whole section for Medicaid and Medicare. There is so much information [that] it was hard to explain to them how to arrange things."

Despite facing a substantial learning curve, Jones says, she "jumped in headfirst" and signed up for a class on Microsoft Front Page computer software "so I would be able to maneuver around the site and maintain it."

IT technicians "put together the background and put it on the server," she adds. "Once they set up the banner at the top of the web page, the general sections, and the tabs, what I did was gather information from the [RIS] team and post it out there."

The IT employees, meanwhile, "were there to help along the way, if I would go in and mess up a link," Jones says. "They’re really great for that. Right now we’re developing an accounts correction page, and they’re in the process of making sure it works within our web site and that people will be able to use it."

Material already was in place

Much of the material for the web site was already in place, she notes, with most pulled from two training manuals the RIS team had put together. "We had plan code tables, and we put together an insurance verification script, so we started out posting that."

The site also includes the monthly newsletter that is specific to access personnel, with a link to past issues, Jones says, as well as information on the department’s Striving Together to Achieve Results (STAR) employee recognition program, which was featured in the February 2003 issue of Hospital Access Management.

The Accounts Corrections page will be used, she adds, if there have been changes in a patient’s pertinent registration information, such as name or insurance company. "[Registrars] can fill out a form on the computer indicating the changes, and when they click "go to e-mail," Jones says, "[the information] will be sent directly to our billing offices."

There have been several format changes to the access site, which has been in existence since July 2003, she notes, as a result of University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) changing the look of its web site in December. "We had to make sure we were in compliance with those standards."

The resource web site is aimed at all access personnel, she says, including frontline staff, the insurance verification team, and employees known as patient representatives and point-of-service coordinators, who perform registrations although they do not report directly to the access department.

Access to the site is not restricted, Jones adds, although some of the links and documents — including the managed care database and the insurance contracts that UAMS has with payers — are reached only through the hospital’s intranet system. "Ninety percent [of the material], however, is accessible to anyone," she says.

Site reduces questions

In addition to receiving "really good feedback" on the site from staff, Jones says, she has noticed a reduction in the number of inquiries the RIS team receives, particularly regarding insurance matters. When employees do ask for help, she adds, team members refer them to the web site to encourage them to become familiar with it.

"[The site] will always be a work in progress," Jones notes. "We encourage people to let us know if they come across a web site we should link to." One suggestion prompted a link to the site for Tri-Care, the federal insurance plan for members of the military and their spouses, she adds. "It has forms and manuals on-line, so we can see what their regulations are."

Although taking care of the site has been added to her existing responsibilities — that haven’t been reduced — Jones said the new task "hasn’t been a burden at all."

"This is something that is really fun for me," she says. "It’s something I look forward to — just knowing that I’m helping to get information out there for access personnel to utilize."

[Editor’s note: Holly Jones can be reached at (501) 603-1132 or at JonesHollyR@uams.edu]