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I went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital recently for a CT scan. I’d just had one three months earlier. And yet, I had to fill out all of the paperwork again. Why can’t they print out what I gave them three months ago and let me review it? Or something that makes more sense?

According to Stacy Cope, director of patient accounts at LMH, there are multiple reasons behind the questions that are asked in a hospital registration interview, and most are driven by legal issues and insurance payers. For example, Cope said, Medicare requires LMH to ask the same questions at each registration, even if the registrations are only hours apart. In Medicare’s and other payers’ eyes, the prior information is irrelevant and doesn’t apply to current circumstances. A new federal anti-identity theft law now makes it necessary to identify each patient being registered, which usually requires showing an official ID and verifying address and phone numbers. In addition, patients’ insurance and demographic information do frequently change, and the accuracy of the information is more important than ever, not only to ensure proper billing and payment, but also as LMH moves toward sharing electronic medical records and instant access to data. “The fact is there is just no way for us to know at the time of registration whose circumstances have changed and whose haven’t,” Cope said. “Therefore, we must ask each time.”

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