Get all registrars CHAA-certified
It sends a message: 'It's not just a job'
More and more hospitals are requiring their staff to become certified in their field, and this includes patient access," says Brenda Sauer, RN, CHAM, president of the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) and director of patient access at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.
Certifications allow organizations to standardize the knowledge of all the staff members who participate and can be used in the development of career ladders, she explains. Sauer strongly encourages her staff to become members of NAHAM.
"NAHAM just received NCCA [National Commission for Certifying Agencies] accreditation on our certification program, so we have met their vigorous requirements to receive their approval," she reports.
CHAM is required
Sauer now requires her management team to obtain certified healthcare access manager (CHAM) certification. Currently, 30% of the management staff is certified. "They must all be certified by the end of 2014. I find the information to be valuable in their professional growth," she says.
Sauer is hoping to see a higher level of professionalism and also an understanding of what is important from a global standpoint in patient access, not just what is going on in their area. "With so many changes occurring in patient access at this time, it is important for them to be knowledgeable in all areas," emphasizes Sauer. "Maintaining their certification will force them to keep up to date."
It also helps leaders from the "C-suite" to recognize the added responsibilities and increase in professionalism of staff in patient access, she adds.
There is another more intangible benefit to getting certified. "There is a certain amount of pride in wearing the CHAM pin and adding those letters after your name, and I want them all to experience it," says Sauer.
In the coming year, Sauer will encourage other staff members to sit for the certified healthcare access associate (CHAA) exam as part of the development of their career paths, especially if they have indicated they would like to move forward in their career in patient access. "Many leaders in the field are requesting this of their employees, and incorporating it into their career ladders for patient access," she says. "We no longer see this role as 'just a job.'"
Pay is 5% higher
Patient access leaders at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL, offered staff the opportunity to obtain certified patient account technician (CPAT) certification for many years, but very few did so.
"It wasn't until recently that we have made a concerted effort to encourage certification," reports Colleen Edwards, CHAM, system director of registration and patient business services.
When Edwards and several colleagues became CHAM-certified in 2012, they made it a priority to encourage staff to become CHAA or CPAT-certified. "We began by highlighting the organizational positives," says Edwards. These include gaining a much better understanding of the employee's role in the organization and the revenue cycle, and well as gain a better understanding of the rules and regulations involved in daily functions.
"We also emphasized the personal gain," says Edwards. "Successful achievement of the certification earns staff a 5% pay increase; and they get reimbursed for the cost of the test upon successful completion."
It is important for the leaders to become certified themselves first, Edwards says. "This demonstrates their commitment and excitement for their own certification and encourages staff to do the same," she says. (See related stories on how the department dramatically improved retention with career ladders, this page right, and how to help staff to study for the examination, below.)
- For more information on certification in patient access, contact:
- Colleen Edwards, CHAM, System Director, Registration and Patient Business Services, Lee Memorial Health System, Fort Myers, FL. Phone: (239) 424-3297. Fax: (239) 424-4049. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Brenda Sauer, RN, CHAM, Director, Patient Access, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY. Phone: (212) 746-4630. Fax: (212) 746-2891. Email: email@example.com.