Will AMs rule when departments combine?

Health care organizations looking to combine other departments with access management may be seeking a single professional manager to oversee the new creation, says Jack Duffy, FHFMA, corporate director of patient financial services at ScrippsHealth in San Diego.

For health systems like ScrippsHealth, which is combining access with health information management and case management, he says, the first question might be, "Can we recruit a manager with enough range to supervise the three departments that have become one?"

A subsequent question might be whether an access manager will be the professional chosen for that multifaceted position, Duffy points out. "Are traditional access managers strong enough to be candidates for these jobs, or will the nurse or the RRA [registered records administrator] be the one? I don’t know. Maybe each organization will make up its own mind."

Certification a likely issue

One of the issues in making that determination is likely to be certification, he says. "Historically, access employees have not been certified. Hospital information management employees have traditionally been required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to have the RRA or another certification. And case management is dominated by registered nurses. I predict access representatives or associates [eventually] will be certified, but I’m not sure what year it will happen. It’s just a question of when the Office of the Inspector General and the Health Care Financing Administration get to it."

Because few access managers have taken advantage of certification opportunities, they often have been classified as generalists in the hospital hierarchy, he adds. If more area management possibilities open up, Duffy says, access managers should look at continuing education in terms of what will help support them as candidates for these multidepartment positions. "If an RRA or a master’s in nursing takes the lead, an access manager may not compete successfully. But a dually qualified access manager could be an attractive candidate for a key position."