A patient access representative is essential to all hospital and outpatient care practices. These professionals support both front-office and back-office staff in a healthcare facility. This helps avoid gaps in care, management, and financial activities, allowing them to be one of the top occupations in healthcare management.
In this article, we cover everything you should know about starting a career in a growing role that blends medical knowledge with administrative skills.
What Does a Patient Access Representative Do?
A patient access representative is typically the first point of contact for patients at a healthcare facility. This means they must maintain positive behavior in all their initiatives and efforts. These professionals work in various healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, mental health institutions, and more. As a patient access representative, you will guide patients through the admissions process by screening patients for eligibility, preparing patient information for clinical staff, and answering patient questions.
As a patient access representative, some of your main responsibilities will be to:
- Greet caregivers and patients and help them with checking in and checking out
- Update electronic health records of patients
- Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records
- Record vital patient information, such as insurance information
- Ensure patients have appropriate post-treatment instructions when checking out if needed
- Work with insurance companies and help with billing and coding
- Attain pre-approval for healthcare treatment
- Refer patients to external agencies when unable to meet their requirements
- Communicate information between staff members and patients, providing them with required updates
- Obtain payment information and handle payments
- Answer patients’ queries and provide guidance through concerns or problems
Job Outlook for Patient Access Representatives
A growing share of the population is approaching old age, which usually requires more healthcare services. Consequently, an increasing number of patient access representatives will be required to collect and convert relevant healthcare information into standardized electronic health records that can be used for insurance settlement and other purposes. The skills to interact with patients and their health records are in high demand and will be needed for years to come.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13% through 2031. This increase is expected to result in about 2 million new jobs over the decade. In addition to new jobs from growth, opportunities arise from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations permanently, such as retirement. About 1.9 million openings each year, on average, are projected to come from growth and replacement needs.
Furthermore, according to BLS, the average salary for a patient access representative is $37,190 in the U.S. as of 2021.
Requirements to Become a Patient Access Representative
Even though many healthcare organizations may not require patient access representatives to have medical experience, many employers prefer applicants to have some experience in performing administrative tasks in a clinical setting. However, patient access representatives may often have to meet particular education and training requirements.
Educational and training requirements
Most organizations require patient access representatives to have at least a general education or high school diploma. Some employers may require candidates to complete an associate degree or at least some college coursework in a medical field like healthcare management. You can widen your opportunities and progress in your profession with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or a related field. However, a four-year degree is not required for this position.
A patient access representative or manager may need to complete training to learn medical terminology, explore the procedures and etiquette of the facility they operate in, and develop data entry and word processing skills. They may also opt to take training courses in patient privacy laws and ethical practices.
Important abilities and skills
Due to the administrative nature of tasks a patient access representative has to perform, they must have strong computer skills and effective communication. They must be familiar with using computer databases and word processing software, which require writing skills and experience with digital tools. They should be able to type fairly quickly to enter patient information efficiently.
Most employers also prefer multilingual candidates who are passionate about helping people and can work without constant supervision. As patient access representatives interact with patients and families daily, they must also possess strong interpersonal and customer service skills.
Prior work experience
A patient access representative usually has some experience working in an administrative role, such as data entry, office support, and customer service. Healthcare organizations often seek applicants with previous clerical experience as many of the vital job responsibilities for these professionals involve tasks like office and clerical administration.
Become a Patient Access Representative with ed2go
ed2go’s Patient Access Representative course provides the skills and information you need to navigate healthcare systems, even if you have limited or no prior experience. In just 12 months, you will develop all the technical skills needed for this allied healthcare position and obtain active learning through an electronic health record simulator. This course teaches you the approaches used in the most common situations in many healthcare settings, such as in-person and telephone communication skills.
As part of this patient access representative training bundle, you will also study a medical terminology course to better understand the human body and how medical terminology is used in a healthcare setting—ensuring you have the basics to start your new career. Once you successfully complete your patient access training, you will be eligible to take two leading patient access certifications: Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification exams through National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Register today to achieve your certifications!
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