Try this to speed patient registration process

Staff 'trust' recent information

Cutting delays in the registration process can free up patient access staff and make patients more satisfied, but this can be challenging.

At St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, MD, a new policy says that if patients were in the hospital in the previous 30 days, the information already in the system can be trusted, and they are not asked the same questions again.

"That was pretty hard to get used to, but it has saved a lot of time and effort, and saves patients getting upset saying, 'You just asked me that five days ago,'" says Cathy Foster, the hospital's director of revenue cycle. "Our trainer is checking that it doesn't have a negative impact on reimbursement and so far it hasn't."

Some information, such as the Medicare secondary payer questions, does have to be asked every time. But most of the other information, such as insurance, name, date of birth and address, are just repeated to the patient very quickly.

The hospital also is about to implement handheld computers that patients will be given to verify their information. "It will bring up 56 patient identifiers, so patients just have to look at the screen and see that it's correct," she says.

[For more information, contact:

  • Cathy Foster, director, revenue cycle, St. Joseph Medical Center, 7601 Osler Drive Towson, MD 21204-7582. Phone: (410) 337-1640. E-mail:]