Access staff are not "expendable"

Some medical staff members might view access services staff as "expendable" and unimportant to the flow of patient care outside of entering information into the computer, according to Kimberly Ablog-Shapiro, access representative supervisor for the night shift in the emergency department (ED) at University of California — Davis Medical Center.

"If medical staff completely understood that we are more than just 'paper pushers,' they would come to value each employee," says Ablog-Shapiro. "They would understand that what we do ultimately affects revenue for the hospital."

Educate medical staff on how correctly and thoroughly registering a patient impacts almost every other major department in the hospital, she advises. "Access staff completely understand their role, in that they are not to interfere with patient care," says Ablog-Shapiro. "They all have tremendous respect for medical staff and the part they play in saving lives."

However, she adds, the skills of access staff are "not something to be taken lightly" and require expertise in piecing together and discerning scattered bits of incomplete information while adhering to federal regulations and hospital policies. Policies are constantly being updated and revised because of changes in healthcare, she adds. "The frustration of access services staff is that they simply feel undervalued and unappreciated by the hospital hierarchy and medical staff as a whole," she says.

Explain to others that it is a mistake to view access staff as "expendable," recommends Ablog-Shapiro. "These people understand their jobs, and it is not an easy process to replace, rehire, and train new staff," she says.

While the "basics" of registration tasks are simple enough to do, says Ablog-Shapiro, "more than that, it is the ability to understand how important every bit of information they process affects the entire hospital or health system."