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The Importance of Patient Access

“The importance of Patient Access cannot be overstated.”

So says Tiffany Ransom, Patient Access manager at CCMH.

Patient Access is a term freely used to describe the ability of individuals to schedule and complete a medical appointment or interact with other departments in the hospital or clinic.  It’s where people actually enter the health care system.”

Ransom is a 17-year veteran in the Patient Access department, starting as a representative on the overnight shift. Subsequently, she also worked in the financial counseling and billing departments before circling back to Patient Access.

“I have always enjoyed Patient Access. We serve as the entry point to the healthcare system for our patients as well as provide them with information and resources. It’s really a crucial part of health care as it affects the quality and availability for patients to get the care that they need when they need it.”

Kendra Hartwig, Patient Access Lead for the hospital, has been a representative at CCMH since March 2023.

“Patient access is like the front door of the hospital or clinic. I think there’s a basic misunderstanding  people have about the role that Patient Access occupies. Some people think we’re here to bar people from doing things, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Patient Access staff is actually here to help try to make this process easier, better, quicker, faster.”

Kristine Meyers, Patient Access Lead, has been with the CCMH Medical Clinic since November 2022.

“We work to make sure patients see the correct provider, at the correct place in the facility, in the correct department, whether they need medical records, help with their billing, or questions about further accessing care. We also help coordinate with our Spanish-language interpreters. We’re able to interface with every department in the facility. We coordinate with and route patients to the appropriate care when they come through the front door.”

Meyers says Patient Access staff members get all kinds of requests that have nothing to do with actually getting an appointment to see a medical provider.

“We get some very interesting calls, but we do the best we can and get them to the services that they need, even if they aren’t specifically related to the hospital. I know we’ve had some calls where we’ve transferred their requests to other facilities for the proper resources.”

Hartwig notes that Patient Access services on the hospital side differ from being on the clinic side.

“Specifically, when we’re discussing the hospital and patient access, our responsibilities include checking patients in and out of the emergency room and then any outpatient services. That includes the lab for blood work, radiology for any imaging, and the specialty clinic in those instances where it’s appropriate. Should we need to admit someone to the hospital or send them over to same day services, then it might also include observation, outpatient or the surgery department.”

Ransom says she would like patients and families to understand the Patient Access reps are here to help.

“Patients are almost always under some sort of stress. They’re not feeling well, they think they have a serious issue. I think sometimes they misinterpret the questions that we need to ask in order to be able to get them what it is that they need. I would like to think that that if everybody just took a step back really quickly they’d understand that we’re here to help. We’re not here to do anything else except help you get what it is you need.”

Hartwig echoed those comments.

“As Patient Access reps we realize people that are calling in or coming through the doors may not be the best version of themselves. A lot of times these are people that we see out in the community that know us. We try to keep in mind that interactions we have with them in the hospital or clinic may not be the same interactions that we have with them outside the facility.”

Ransom also noted there is a great deal of work goes on behind the scenes to make patient visits smooth and quick.

“We really touch every patient that comes through the door. I know a lot of people aren’t aware that Patient Access even exists. We help manage an awful lot of administrative work that goes on out of sight that makes all of this work really well for people.”

Meyers says Patient Access does its best to accommodate patients from any background or culture.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that we have many different cultures in Denison, and a variety of languages spoken, and that affects how we interact with patients. CCMH has a lot of great ways to communicate with patients where English is not their first language. We have in-person interpreters that are here either staffing or on call 24-7. We’ve also have the language line and recently we implemented the  Proprio iPad that allows us to video chat or voice chat. We’ve never run across a language where we weren’t able to find assistance.”

Why would anyone want to become a patient access rep? Hartwig says it is a satisfying occupation.

“Patient Access reps have the unique ability to be able to interact with patients that receive care in every single department of our facility. And we also get to work together with the employees and providers in those departments as well. CCMH offers competitive salaries and a  positive job outlook. A career as a Patient Access rep is an attractive option for those looking to join the health care industry. It gives you a good idea of what all goes on inside the facility, inside the clinic, the hospital, every department.”



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