What is a Patient Access Representative?

A Patient Access Representative checks in new patients at healthcare facilities, and also provides facility and billing information to new and existing patients. The Patient Access Representative is the person who answers the phone when patients call with questions. They’re also responsible for patient information intake and ensuring this information is readily available for Doctors and Nurses.

Patient Access Representatives are typically employed by hospitals, nursing homes, mental health institutions or private healthcare offices. This is an entry-level position that serves as a great starting point for anyone looking to build a career in the healthcare field. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Customer Service Representatives, which includes Patient Access Representatives, is set to rise 10 percent through 2024.

 

Patient Access Representative Duties and Responsibilities

Patient Access Representatives duties span from clerical work to assisting clients. We analyzed several of Patient Access Representative job descriptions to identify the following list of core duties and responsibilities.

Provide Great Service

The Patient Access Representative is usually the first point of contact for patients at a healthcare facility. This means that they are responsible for maintaining a positive demeanor in all of their communicative efforts.

Conduct New Patient Intake Interviews

When a new patient first visits a healthcare facility, the Patient Access Representative is the person who interviews them to obtain their demographical and financial information. This can also involve interviewing patient’s caregivers, as well.

Input Patient Information into Database

This is where computer skills come in handy. Patient Access Representatives must be able to type fairly quickly in order to enter patient information at an efficient pace.

Manage Concerns of Current Patients

This involves fielding phone calls regarding billing issues, appointment cancellations and all related kinds of concerns. Patient Access Representatives must be able diffuse patients who are angry or stressed.

Escort Patients to their Appropriate Location

This is especially important in large facilities. It is the Patient Access Representative’s job to escort patients to the appropriate examination room, and to let the doctors and nurses know which patient is waiting in which room.

 

Patient Access Representative Skills

Patient Access Representatives are part Customer Service Representative and part Information Clerk. They are often the first point of contact for a patient, so they must rely heavily on their people skills in order to consistently create a positive impression for new and returning patients. A successful Patient Access Representative must also be a typing aficionado, as they are constantly entering and pulling up patient information. In addition to these skills and personality traits, employers like to see the following skills in Patient Access representative candidates.

Core Skills: Based on our analysis of job postings, these are the core skills that employers look for on the resumes of Patient Access Representative candidates.

  • Professional and positive demeanor
  • Basic Computer Skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office
  • Attention to Detail
  • Written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Ability to multitask

Advanced Skills: While the following skills were not listed as required, they were listed by many employers as preferred skills.

  • Ability to take initiative and work without constant supervision
  • A passion for helping people
  • Being multilingual

 

Patient Access Representative Q & A

In our quest to provide you with information on life as a Patient Access Representative, we had a chat with Certified Healthcare Access Associate Matthew Bahr. Matthew has over 10 years of experience working as a Patient Access Representative with major hospitals, and he also runs a blog called the Patient Financial Advisor. Here’s what he had to say.

What are some of the core duties performed by a Patient Access Representative?

Some of the key roles you’ll see include: Patient Registration and Admitting, ER Registration. Scheduling, Pre-Certification, and Financial Counseling. Many of their roles play a part in patient safety, since staff will confirm the patient demographics, confirm they place the correct armband on the right patient and enter their insurance information.

What challenges does a Patient Access Representative face?

Many patient access roles are in the front end of the Revenue Cycle, which means the data they enter affects the downstream workflows. So, many of the challenges staff face are based upon the information they receive. If a patient is incapacitated, staff may struggle getting updated registration information. With medical billing being incredibly complicated, being able to explain the complex to patients when they’re sick, can sometimes be a difficult battle.

Staff will often need to educate the patients on why things are happening the way they are. For example, staff may need to explain to a disgruntled patient why they needed an authorization for one service, but not another. I like to think of Patient Access as the business hub of the hospital.

What skills do Patient Access Representatives use most?

Unquestionably, customer service and compassion. I remind my staff of this often and try to practice this daily in my interactions with patients. The reality of the situation is that no one ever wants to be in the hospital. No one likes feeling sick and when you’re facing a health crisis, your attitude and behavior towards others may not be your norm. It’s important for Patient Access staff to remember this. 

Since Patient Access is often the first part of the patient’s experience, it’s important to relay to the patient they will be coming to a place where they’ll be provided excellent customer service and they’ll be viewed as an actual person. It’s important the patient feels that you care from that first time you meet them.

What should someone consider before becoming a Patient Access Representative?

That you’ll have a difficult job. You will constantly be balancing satisfying the patients and the clinical teams who are there to take care of them. A lot of your work will be influenced by situations out of your control and you’ll need to learn how to accept the things you cannot

change.

What type of person is successful in this job?

Someone who wants to help others. People who are detail oriented. I think people who handle stress well and don’t take their job home with them are successful in patient access roles.

What do you find to be most rewarding about being a Patient Access Representative?

Helping people when they need it most is one of the most rewarding parts of patient access. When I can eliminate that fear of the unknown for the patient, I know that peace of mind I provided is one less thing they have to worry about. Now they can focus on feeling better.

 

Patient Access Representative Salary

According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, Patient Access Representatives, categorized as Customer Service Representatives, earn a median salary in the U.S. of $31,700. Those in the bottom 10 percent make $20,300, while those in the top 10 percent make $53,000. The three states with the highest median salary are Massachusetts at $38,500, Connecticut at $37,600 and California at $37,000.

 

Patient Access Representative Resources

Interested in further exploring the field of Patient Access? Take a look at these resources we have compiled to aid your exploration.

On the Web

GoGrad.Org – This website is listed by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management as a trusted source for those looking to pursue a graduate level education in Health Information Management.

Industry Groups

National Association of Healthcare Access Management – Founded in 1982, NAHAM has plenty to offer its members. It offers a certification program, live webinars and information for in-person conferences. It also has an extensive database of web resources.

 

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