Tell staff the cost of registration errors

Show the importance of their role

If the information collected by registrars is not correct the first time around, this problem means less revenue and dissatisfied patients, but patient access employees don’t always realize the implications of simple mistake.

Incorrect information sometimes occurs because patients are registered by clinical staff during off-hours or because an emergency department patient doesn’t have his or her insurance card, notes Jennifer White, director of patient access at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, NH.

Patient access managers need to “build staff awareness to the tools and resources they have available to get the necessary information to complete an accurate registration,” says White. She uses these approaches:

• Building collaborative relationships with office staff of local providers.

“We have strengthened the lines of communication with our provider offices,” reports White. If the patient states they have a local primary care physician, some provider’s offices are willing to share the patient’s information with registrars, so the account can be updated and the patient billed accurately.

“The registrar contacts the provider’s office after the patient is registered to obtain correct demographics and billing information, so the account is updated prior to the patient being discharged,” she explains. “Otherwise, the patient would receive a self-pay notice and would have to call back.”

Patient access managers also held practice managers’ meetings and provided lunches. “We have a point person sending out communication to the providers’ offices on changes, so they are `in the know,’” adds White.

• Reviewing denied claims with everyone involved.

“I explain to them what one field of inaccurate information can do to our A/R days,” says White. “I review the requirements by all involved staff to correct the issue.”

• Holding a training session on how all the information that is entered at registration affects the bill.

At a recent staff meeting, White reviewed accounts in which the primary payer on the account was not correct because there was another primary payer. She explained how this mistake delays payment because the claim is rejected, and then the registrar must do additional research on the account. “When this is all finished, billing must submit a corrected claim,” says White. “By giving examples of the whole revenue cycle, they begin to realize how their actions at registration affect the whole process.”

Staff members didn’t realize how important their role is in the revenue cycle process, says White. “After the meeting, staff began asking questions, like ‘Did I enter the correct payer?’” she says.

Sources

For more information on registration accuracy, contact:

Shante R. Hill, Manager, Patient Access Revenue Cycle, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson. Phone: (601) 984-4354. Fax: (601) 984-4705.

John Linser, MPA, Director of Operations, Registration Services, Cincinnati (OH) Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Phone: (513) 636-3378. Fax: (513) 636-1751. Email: John.Linser@cchmc.org.

Jennifer White, Director of Patient Access, Cottage Hospital, Woodsville, NH. Phone: (603) 747-9252. Fax: (603) 747-9342. Email: jawhite@cottagehospital.org.