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NAHAM Access Week 2020: What Does It Mean That Patient Access Starts With You? Part 1

By NAHAM Members


As part of its Access Week 2020 recognition, NAHAM asked Patient Access professionals to answer a question: What does it mean that Patient Access starts with you?


The NAHAM Membership Committee selected the following essays as the winning entries of the 2020 Access Week Essay Contest:

Jeffery Dallas, Epic-certified applications analyst (Patient Access team), Valley Health, Winchester, Virginia

Angela Lewis, Epic credentialed trainer, Reid Health, Richmond, Indiana


“Patient Access professionals undoubtedly drive the revenue cycle. We gather a wide range of demographic and financial data so that billing is a seamless process. We strive to consistently increase revenue through schedule optimization by ensuring third-party authorizations are on file and by asking for upfront collections. Given the importance of our work, leaders often refer to Patient Access professionals as the heartbeat of the organization. I wholeheartedly agree and do not want to discount these efforts. However, these tasks are focused on what I do for the organization. When I think about Patient Access starting with me, I am motivated by what I do for the patient.


Patient Access professionals are the calming voice to the anxious and scared patient. Patients do not come to the hospital for specialized tests and procedures by choice, but rather out of necessity to find answers when they know something doesn’t feel quite right. At times, these patients fear the worst and struggle to find words at the registration desk. In these instances, I convey compassion and help soothe their anxiety by speaking sincerely, politely and confidently.


I also embrace my role as an educator. Health insurance is esoteric and misunderstood by many. I take pride in being able to explain individual plans to patients after I verify their benefits and know where they’re at in terms of their out-of-pocket responsibility. I often find that some people think co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles are synonymous. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for patients to assume the hospital is always an in-network provider. I enjoy explaining and clarifying these concepts for patients so they can financially prepare for services. I also believe these discussions put them in a better position to make future insurance policy decisions during their next open enrollment period.


In addition to my roles as the calming voice and an educator, I am energized by my role as a concierge. In this capacity, I get to offer a plethora of services ranging from wayfinding to the timeline for test completion to managing up the patient’s healthcare provider. All of these concierge services help alleviate patient concerns and focus on adding value to their total patient experience.


I deliberately chose healthcare as a career because I wanted to help people. While I appreciate the work I do for my organization, I am intrinsically motivated by the value I provide to the individual patients I am privileged to serve. I get the honor of practicing servant leadership each day, and it’s personally rewarding when patients thank me for helping reduce their anxiety and fear. To me, thinking about what it means that Patient Access starts with me is easy because it always reminds me why I love the healthcare field!” – Jeffery Dallas, Epic-certified applications analyst (Patient Access team), Valley Health, Winchester, Virginia


Unique Career Opportunity:


Seeking to immediately fill a full-time position in a 24/7 department. Weekends, nights and holidays are required, and staff does not leave until the work is done, not when the shift ends.


The ideal candidate should have all of the following qualifications:

  1. The ability to extract detailed financial and personal information from individuals who would rather not provide it, all while not alienating said individual.
  2. The ability to make small talk with all walks of life, without judgement or bias.
  3. The ability to remain calm and level headed in life and death situations — literally.
  4. The ability to treat others with more care and compassion than they receive.
  5. The ability to maintain a compassionate, calm manner, while those you serve are potentially having the worst day in their entire lives.
  6. The ability to provide a supportive word while simultaneously calculating co-pays, co-insurances or deposits.
  7. The ability to retrieve some of the most obscure, unrelated pieces of information to ensure others may succeed.
  8. The ability to maintain professionalism while those around you are not.
  9. The ability to assume multiple job roles while simultaneously working through another equipment upgrade.
  10. The ability to calculate percentages as accurately as a stock broker with the bed side demeanor of Mother Theresa.
  11. The ability to be a morning person to folks who are definitely not morning people.
  12. The ability to work with almost no help.
  13. The ability to work with no power.
  14. The ability to go for hours on end without a lunch or bathroom break.
  15. The ability to make the most heartbroken smile and the downtrodden hope.

Candidates should be prepared to stand, sit and scurry, all at the same time, within their shift. The ideal candidate should have a joke on the ready and a comforting word on standby. They should be able to drill down into the most personal of topics with a complete stranger while remaining respectful and understanding. Above all, they should treat each situation as though it was the most important exchange they will have all day.


If you or someone you know meets all of the above qualifications, please report to the Patient Access department of our organization, because our patients’ success starts with you. Angela Lewis, Epic credentialed trainer, Reid Health, Richmond, Indiana


In addition to Jeffery’s and Angela’s winning submissions, we’re proud to share some of the responses, and we hope they inspire you. You play an essential role in each patient’s healthcare experience!


Read part two and part three of the Access Week essay contest entries.

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