Patient Registration Practices
The Importance of Proper and Accurate Patient Registration Practices
Patient registration sets that tone for not only the patient experience, but whether that practice is paid for the exceptional care rendered to that patient.
The first element of the Revenue Cycle workflow starts with the patient registration process. If anything is omitted, incorrect information given or entered incorrectly, the Revenue Cycle process will fail. The result of this failure is most often no reimbursement to the practice for services rendered to that patient.
Accurate and complete patient registration information is key to assuring that claims move smoothly and swiftly through the revenue cycle continuum. Verification of this information at the time of registration is critical. If any information is incorrect, this is the optimum time to obtain the correct information. You are interacting directly with the patient and can ask whatever questions are needed to fill in the blanks or get the correct information. Once the patient has completed their services, it is often quite difficult to get additional information after the fact.
The first step in the patient registration workflow would be to collect correct patient demographic information. Patient name, address, phone number and Insurance should be verified with each patient encounter. The use of modern technology plays a vital part in helping medical professionals communicate with patients. Therefore, adding a patient’s email address is also a vital piece of registration. There are multiple software programs available in which a patient email address and/or phone number is used to send a text message or email requesting to contact the practice, send appointment reminders, start the check in process, etc. This can also be used to communicate test results and even to send a link to the patient to make a payment on their account.
In addition to basic patient demographic information, collecting and entering the correct insurance information is important to make sure the patient has appropriate insurance coverage for the services being rendered on that date and that claims for services are submitted timely and accurately to the correct insurance carrier. Before insurance information is entered into the system, it should be verified by web portal or by contacting the insurance company by phone to verify the patient is still eligible to receive services and what, if any, financial responsibility the patient has for the service. This is also an opportunity for the patient registration area to educate patient who are unaware of their benefits or coverages through their insurance. Many patients appreciate knowing in advance what their portion of the bill will be.
Another important part of the patient registration process is making sure the patient signs all documents required to be compliant with HIPAA and other regulatory compliance rules set forth by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other government regulatory bodies. The patient should be made aware of what measures are in place to protect their identify as well as their personal health information. They are also made aware of what their rights and responsibilities are as a patient.
Scanning patient documents such as a drivers license and insurance card is also important. In a busy medical practice, keying errors are common. Having these documents scanned and available assures the practice has a resource to get the correct information and update as appropriate.
Whew! This was a lot to type, so you know it is a lot for a patient registrar to remember to gather, verify, enter, and scan into their system. A patient registrar must remember to obtain all of this information for multiple patients daily and do so while providing service with a smile. The registrar is the
face of the organization; they form the patients first impression of the practice and set the expectation for the rest of their visit.
Administrative functions, such as those performed in patient registration are considered as vital and as crucial as the physician seeing that patient. These processes can be time consuming and complicated but are vital to the overall success of that practice. Mismanagement of patient registration functions can not only affect a practice financially but can also affect patient satisfaction.
The goal of patient registration should be to focus efforts on patients, workflows, processes and use of technology to create a smooth and seamless visit for the patient as well as achieving optimal financial success.
My hat is off to these Revenue Cycle professionals. Kudos to you and all the work you do everyday to keep the practice going and provide exceptional service while doing it.