nThrive responded to key challenges confronting Patient Access leaders – staff education and denials prevention topping the list -- at NAHAM 2018, held May 3-6 in Denver, Colo. During a heavily attended learning lab, Tammy Stone, nThrive vice president, Front Revenue Cycle Service Delivery, teamed with Michael Maggard, executive director of Patient Access at Mission Health, to present “Solving the Labor Supply Challenge by Building the Front Line Workforce from your Organization and Community.”

nThrive also sought feedback from industry leaders on trends in Patient Access at an invitation-only focus group session.

“During the focus group we heard that the top business issue in Patient Access today is education and staffing,” explained Kevin Smith, nThrive vice president, Product Management, who moderated the session. “Having a learning lab to address this key issue directly plugged into a critical industry concern.”

Described as “one of the most interactive sessions at the conference,” the learning lab delved into patient experience, empowering staff, and managing employee performance and career laddering, as well as the importance of centralizing activities such as scheduling to reduce cost – all topics that also surfaced in focus group session.

In addition, focus group attendees expressed a need to circumvent denials on the front end, specifically improving the feedback loop between the front and back of the revenue cycle. Other key issues included price transparency and consumerism, health plan/payor integration, recurring process problems, poor point-of-service collections and bad debt.

The participants, primarily directors of Patient Access, also expressed frustration from staff overload, due in large part to authorization challenges related to medical necessity and increasing restrictions.

Estimating was another big area of concern, especially on how to best handle patients with recurring visits who are required to meet a deductible. Using a propensity-to-deny tool upfront was viewed as a way to develop new processes to minimize denials on the back end.

Ultimately, the group agreed that use of analytics, coupled with an increase in staff education, should be an essential components of any health care organization’s future roadmap.

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