SGMC’s first nationally certified healthcare access associates from left to right are Karen Rainey, Tina Rogers, Liz Ricks, Beth Spires and Ann Hart. South Georgia Medical Center congratulates five employees for achieving certification as certified healthcare access associates (CHAA). Ann Hart, Karen Rainey, Tina Rogers, Liz Ricks and Beth Spires recently received the national certification awarded through the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). The five completed the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College certified healthcare access associates program on April 30, 2012 which included the exam. Patient access services includes admissions, scheduling, registration, patient finance, guest relations, and other related services that are critical to healthcare providers.In addition to holding the CHAA certification, the five women are also enrolled in the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College HealthCare Access Associates’ Technical Certificate Program. The first program of its kind in Georgia, this 27 hour program is a collaborative effort between SGMC and Wiregrass designed to positively impact customer service by providing job-specific training to these front-line employees. These front line employees take care of a patient’s needs from the time the patient initially contacts or presents to the hospital for services, and continues until the time the patient receives medical/mental health services.According to Sally Walter, patient access services manager, the partnership with Wiregrass has provided a wonderful training opportunity for these front-line professionals. She explains, “The fact that one holds a certification tells employers quite a bit about an employee’s personality and work ethic. It demonstrates that one honors commitment and follow-through, two traits that employers recognize and appreciate.” Studies have shown that certified professionals are more productive in their work. Because of their knowledge and skills, access to special resources, and problem-solving abilities, certified employees are able to implement solutions more quickly and with fewer problems than their non-certified counterparts. The CHAA program curriculum focuses on knowledge, skills and competencies related to: identifying and collecting quality data, understanding electronic health records, interpreting medical terminology, meeting healthcare reimbursement insurance system guidelines and collecting upfront payments to help increase the organization’s revenue cycle performance. The program also presents the student with a body of knowledge instilling customer service excellence through effective communication in the healthcare environment.The National Association of Healthcare Access Management is the only national professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the management of patient access services in all areas of the healthcare delivery system. For more information, contact SGMC’s Community Relations office at 259-4420.