By Laura Krawec, CHIM
Canadians are noticing positive changes in the delivery of services within the health care sector. Some of us have noticed our family doctor is no longer shuffling through papers for lab results or for that last imaging scan. Some no longer receive an illegible prescription or wait when they bring it to their pharmacy because the information has already been sent and is waiting for them. Others receive communication through text, emails, and phone calls that eliminate the need to travel to different appointments. Health care is becoming more seamless and client-focused, and this cultural shift is only possible with the contribution of staff responsible for registration.
The person at the initial point of registration and during different points of care has a growing and evolving influence on outcomes. Often, the services we receive are not in one silo but involve many disciplines and personnel from across town. The systems for seamless and growing interconnectivity being shaped for the future of health care are nothing without the registration clerks at the user level.
A growing influence on health outcomes
If you have successfully made an appointment, had your visit, and received follow-up services, you have registration personnel to thank. But we may not be considering this as we search for our health card to show—again! The next time a registrant asks for your current address while holding your health card, you no longer need to feel frustrated. Now, you can feel assured that someone has the security of your identity in mind. Identity thefts are identified at this level; what if someone was trying to use your information? Being able to pick up your prescriptions seamlessly is only helpful if you are picking up the item titrated for you, not for someone else. Registration clerks ensure that you don’t fall through the cracks from outdated or incorrect information.
While registration elements occur in many disciplines, health information management professionals elevate the concept of data collection. Through the promotion of registration best practices, care and service providers within their silos can be more interconnected with your care team. Health information management professionals have been working on the building blocks to bridge information gaps in the health care system for decades. For example, as outpatients, we lug that trusty health card along with us, but as inpatients, we likely don’t consider that we didn’t need to communicate with the pharmacy, laboratory, imaging departments, or other auxiliary services. This communication is initiated and flows seamlessly from registration work. This registration work forms the components for the electronic records systems being used in many offices today.
Registrants know how important demographic information is to health care, but we’re all living through how it applies, as new systems are constantly being built around this sharing of health information. These new systems provide exciting opportunities for registration-based staff to deliver valuable consultations on ways they can thrive. While registrants face unique issues that may hinder data quality, it’s those experiences we can draw upon when enhancing systems for improved compliance for our clients.
Challenges of health care registration clerks
Registrants with health information backgrounds have a wealth of knowledge about the importance of and how best to complete this work. But that doesn’t mean it always comes easy. People have unique needs and situations, and crises occur that challenge registrants who often need to work within rigid systems. While standards and best practices are our friends, it is our combined experience and peer network groups that provide the discussions that lead us to solutions and enhanced capabilities going forward.
One of the biggest challenges a registration clerk could face these days, surprisingly enough in these times of information overload, is a lack of information. Communicating correct and current demographic elements with a client is vital. We rely on our clients to trust their information with us will be used with care and for their benefit, and we rely on them to be able to communicate changes to their demographics, which can be sensitive. Registration clerks rely on the information from their organizations. But how is this information being used? What changes or areas are being identified as necessary for reporting and data collection to drive more change?
Registrants can offer unique insights into how well the system is designed for its clients, users, and stakeholders and if enhanced elements can lead to better interoperability, communication, and compliance. Departments without designated registrants can consult health information management professionals to resolve data flow issues. HIM professionals have knowledge of demographic registries and systems that support good documentation and registration practices.
A registration clerk has a dynamic role requiring political and business acumen, technical capabilities, and a desire for continuing education as systems evolve. They thrive in environments where organizational structure supports the accessibility to information and tools required to capture necessary data elements for patient care and reporting. A registration clerk with access to a network of peers often has the means to support their organization best as we become more interconnected. For example, through CHIMA, health information professionals take advantage of networking opportunities that touch on a growing variety of topics. Registration clerks deserve recognition for their contribution to the flow of health information in today’s health care industry.
New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse. 2017. Identification of Unidentified Patients Model Policy. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 80 South Swan Street, Albany, New York 12210. https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/missing/docs/DHDTC-DAL-17-03-Identification-of-Unidentified-Pts-with-Policy.pdf
Taylor, Malaika. 2017. “Catch-22: No ID and without a home.” The Homeless Hub. https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/catch-22-no-id-and-without-home