Staff members' roles are made more specific

Two years ago, patient access leaders at Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center "had everyone doing everything," says Anne Goodwill Pritchett, MPA, FHFMA, vice president of patient financial services. "We found that for us, that was not the best way to do it."

Supervisors previously were responsible for all access roles, but two years ago the department was restructured so that a group of team members is assigned to specific functions, says Goodwill Pritchett. "The people who were performing specific duties the majority of the time were the ones we picked to handle those duties 100% of the time," she says. "Some wanted to do something else, and we were flexible to the extent we could be."

The change allowed staff to develop expertise in specific areas of patient access. "We are not all comfortable performing the same roles. Now everybody can become an expert in the duties they are performing," says Goodwill Pritchett.

While some staff members are responsible solely for informing patients of expenses and collecting; others only verify the patient's benefits and determine out-of-pocket expenses, she explains. This change resulted in increased point-of-service collections, in part because some employees were just not comfortable asking patients for money, she says. "Collections was not something we had done consistently over the years," Goodwill Pritchett says."We selected the people with the right skill sets who were comfortable doing that."

The top five patient-staff interactions were identified, and scripting was created for each scenario, with customized training. For example, collections training is only provided to those individuals responsible for collecting.

"It became much easier to train," Goodwill Pritchett says. "If you have 50 staff, and you only need five of them to handle collections, there's no reason to train everyone in how to collect."


For more information on patient access roles, contact:

• Anne Goodwill Pritchett, MPA, FHFMA, Vice President, Patient Financial Services, Hackensack (NJ) University Medical Center. Phone: (201) 996-3364. Email: