The Evolution of Patient Access: A Look at the Modern Landscape
From charitable guesthouses to modern patient access departments
Hospitals and the occupations within them have evolved significantly in the United States since their inception in the mid-1700s. Initially established as charitable guesthouses, early health systems addressed medical needs within the community and provided custodial care for the impoverished.
As society became more mobile and medical practices and science advanced, health systems and the professions associated with them underwent transformative changes. In today’s landscape, many of these professions, particularly those within hospital patient access departments, are continuing to evolve.
Patient access teams’ vital contribution
Serving as the initial point of contact in most health systems, patient access teams take on a wide range of responsibilities, including the management of registration, incoming orders, insurance verification, collections, scheduling, and other crucial tasks. These dedicated team members play an essential role in a health system’s revenue cycle management by consistently creating a warm and welcoming environment, which contributes to higher patient satisfaction. Nevertheless, the demanding nature of their roles often leads to overwork and burnout, underscoring the importance for health systems to provide additional support and to acknowledge the evolving needs of both patient access teams and the patients they serve.
Enhancing patient access through consumer-centric care
The evolution of the patient access department entails more than just modifying operational procedures; it also necessitates a recognition of the shifting demographics among the patients served by health systems.
“I think it’s important to migrate to a customer mindset because when we talk about customers, we usually talk about customer engagement, customer experience, customer loyalty,” shared Bill Fera, principal at Deloitte Consulting during HIMSS22’s Patient Experience Symposium. “When we talk about patients, we tend to hear words like compliance, adherence. There is more of a paternalistic association with the word patient than there is with the word customer. Customer is at will. We have the toughest customers in the world in healthcare because we don’t get to choose our customers. We can’t cherry-pick our customers. We have to serve all of our customers, and we have to do it at an unbelievably high level.”
Harvard Business Review reports that now is the time for health systems to better understand patients as consumers, highlighting that “only with consumer-focused information can health systems be prepared to compete for patient share of care in a health economy where supply exceeds current demand for services.” Aiding patient access teams, advanced technology offers the means to engage patients as discerning consumers, fostering positive experiences through enhanced transparency and personalized interactions.
Burnout and Solutions for Mitigation
Whether the departments are designated as Patient Access or Consumer Access, both teams are currently facing burnout. One major factor contributing to this burnout is the extensive time they devote to repetitive and mundane tasks. Fortunately, as technology has progressed in tandem with the profession, it has offered solutions to streamline workflows, minimize errors, and boost revenue generation.
By automating time-consuming, manual tasks, not only is productivity and accuracy elevated but also throughput improves, and employee satisfaction is bolstered. In addition, it has the potential to enhance personalization in patient care, allowing teams to allocate their efforts to value-added responsibilities that elevate the quality of care and foster patient loyalty.
Vyne Medical’s Trace® automation solutions are designed to alleviate the challenges faced by health system patient access teams, including low productivity, poor outcomes, and staff burnout by automating mundane, time-consuming, manual tasks.
This technology helps create seamless operations by providing:
- Less reliance on human intervention
- Automated & streamlined workflow processes
- Improved productivity, accuracy, ROI, and employee satisfaction
Connect with us to experience the transformative power of Trace automation in your health system.
“Health Care Systems Need to Better Understand Patients as Consumers.” Harvard Business Review, 10 Apr. 2023, hbr.org/2023/04/health-care-systems-need-to-better-understand-patients-as-consumers.
“History of Hospitals.” • Nursing, History, and Health Care • Penn Nursing, www.nursing.upenn.edu/nhhc/nurses-institutions-caring/history-of-hospitals/.
“Tech’s Role in the Patient-to-Consumer Evolution.” MobiHealthNews, 15 Mar. 2022, www.mobihealthnews.com/news/techs-role-patient-consumer-evolution.