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How to Reduce Patient Registration Errors

In a busy medical office, patient registration execution may suffer, which opens the door for costly errors. Patient registration errors are a significant driver of claims payment delays and denials. Correcting and preventing patient registration errors has a positive effect on your practice’s bottom line, increasing claims payments. This article will give you several helpful tips you can use to reduce errors related to patient registration.

Verify Patient Information Upfront

Front office staff must verify patient information at every visit in a systematic manner. Insurance companies may deny claims whenever there is an information mismatch. A couple of common reasons for denials include: 

  • Misspelled name – If the patient’s name is spelled differently in the payer’s system, the claim may be denied. Double-check the spelling of the patient’s name at the time of registration.
  • Incorrect date of birth (DOB) – Since the DOB is a primary patient identifier, insurance companies will quickly deny a claim for an incorrect DOB. Even if the DOB is one day off, the claim may be denied.
  • Match Patient’s Address – Payers may deny a claim if the address on the claim doesn’t match the address in their system. For this reason, it’s essential to verify whether the patient’s address has changed before every appointment. It’s not uncommon for patients to move to a new address and forget to update their information.

A concrete data collection protocol will reduce patient registration errors and denials based on mismatched data. 

Information to Collect Upfront

To ensure complete and accurate data collection, medical office management should come up with a system that requires upfront verification of the following: 

  • Patient’s Name
    • Is the name spelled correctly in the system? 
    • Is there a suffix?
  • Patient address 
    • Is the address on file accurate?
  • Best contact phone number
  • Insurance details 
    • Verify patient’s member ID, group #, policy #
    • Policy holder’s information
    • Does the patient have new insurance? 

If registration staff has trouble remembering to ask the above questions, additional training or written workflows may be necessary.

Determine the Reason for the Visit

Another often-neglected part of the patient registration process is finding out the reason for the visit. For instance, if a patient came into the office after a motor vehicle accident or a work-related accident, registration staff should ask more questions, including: 

  • If the patient was in a motor vehicle accident: 
    • Is there a claim on file for the accident? 
    • Do you have the insurance details for the responsible party? 
  • If the patient was in a work accident: 
    • What is your employer’s address and phone number? 
    • Is there an active worker’s compensation claim for this injury? 
    • Where should claims be sent? 
    • What is the claim adjuster’s information?

Patient registration is incomplete unless all relevant information is obtained, so a thorough review of the patient’s situation is always necessary.

Check Insurance Coverage Eligibility

Yet another aspect of patient registration is insurance eligibility. A patient’s insurance eligibility can change from one day to the next, so it’s imperative to stay on top of checking every patient’s eligibility before each appointment. A good rule of thumb is to verify the patient’s insurance coverage a day or two before the appointment. If the insurance is no longer active, there’s an opportunity to work out alternative payment options. 

Reduce the Collection of Incorrect Patient Information

Sometimes patients give incorrect information, and this often leads to denials due to mismatched information. Though there is no way to ensure that every patient provides true and accurate information, you can take steps to reduce the collection of incorrect patient data.

To combat incorrect patient information, patient registration staff should look to physical evidence. Use the patient’s state ID, driver’s license, insurance card, or other official cards and documents to determine whether the provided information is accurate.

It’s also important to impress upon patients the benefits of giving accurate identification and insurance information. Let them know that disclosing their information:

  • May result in money savings, as the insurance company may foot part of the bill. 
  • Enables the medical office staff to reach out to the patient if there’s an issue with payment or a medical update.
  • Is necessary for staff to track all aspects of care management.
  • Helps to ensure the protection of sensitive health information. When a wrong address is given, this increases the probability of a breach of sensitive personal data.

Double-Check Data Entry

Patient registration staff members manually enter data into EMR systems day in and day out, and humans make mistakes. So, staff must double-check every piece of data entered. Mistyping one letter or digit can be the difference between insurance payment and denial. 

In addition, when entering the payer’s address into the system for billing purposes, the correct payer should be selected. Insurance carriers, especially larger ones, may have multiple payment addresses. Choosing the wrong one can delay payment. 

Though a medical practice can get very busy, management should instruct front office staff to take the time to ensure that the information entered is accurate. 

Get a Good EMR System

Some EMR systems have specialized functionality that decreases data entry errors by having fields with pre-determined character limits and restricted character types. If your practice has an outdated EMR system, or no EMR system at all, consider upgrading to a system with features that reduce data entry errors. 

Not only do electronic medical record systems have measures in place to reduce patient registration errors, but they also reduce the workload associated with patient registration. A decent patient registration system reduces redundancy by enabling users to complete several functions without repeatedly entering patient information. The less manual data entry required, the lower the chance of data entry errors. 

Every day that your medical office operates without an efficient EMR system is another day that your business isn’t taking advantage of these error-reducing benefits. 

Now you know several ways to reduce patient registration errors and increase your medical practice’s cash flow. We hope that this article is helpful to you as you seek out revenue cycle solutions for your medical practice.