Patient access employees can go outside their departments and roles to improve patient satisfaction, even in clinical areas.
- Registrars at Sharp Healthcare deliver a greeting card to admitted patients.
- Emergency department registrars at Mission Hospital cleaned rooms during high-volume periods.
- A registrar at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital alerted clinicians to a piece of possibly life-saving medical information.
Patient satisfaction has become a top priority for patient access, and not just in registration areas.
“Everyone knows healthcare is quickly becoming a service-based industry,” says Christopher R. Jones, MBA, patient access manager for emergency department (ED) and outpatient registration at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC.
Every point of contact is a chance for Mission’s registration team to demonstrate excellent service to a patient. This contact might be in an elevator, in the cafeteria, in the hallway to a meeting, or in the parking lot. “The success of our interactions can have everything to do with whether the customer chooses to repeat their business or go somewhere else,” says Jones.
Patient access needs to exceed patients’ expectations “from the time the patient presents to the site until the end of their services, and even long after that,” says Janet James, MBA, patient access manager of emergency and outpatient registration at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
Here are some examples of excellent service provided by patient access in clinical areas:
- After a patient is admitted at San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, a patient access team member visits the patient at the bedside.
The employee gives the patient a folded card with an inspirational thought for the day, such as “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” The card displays the hospital’s logo and the main admitting office phone number.
“We created a ‘Memorable Moment’ requirement for all access service areas,” explains Gerilynn Sevenikar, vice president of patient financial services.
Patient access employees use this scripting: “Good morning/afternoon. My name is ____ from registration. I just wanted to come up and say good morning/afternoon, and see if there is anything I can assist you with. I would like to leave you with a thought for the day (read message). This is part of our contribution to leave you with a memorable experience at Sharp Memorial Hospital. (pause). Is there anything else I can assist you with before I go?”
At Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, patient access staff members deliver a message to new mothers on “seed” paper, which can be used to grow flowers. “It is an out-of-the box moment to connect with our patients and make sure the experience is better than expected,” says Sevenikar.
- ED registration supervisors at Mission Hospital helped to turn over beds on a high-volume day, so patients didn’t have to wait any longer.
On that particular day, the Environmental Services team was working very hard to turn over the rooms as quickly as possible, but for every room cleaned, there was another room vacated that also needed cleaning. “There were a number of patients waiting for beds to be cleaned so they could be admitted,” Jones explains. “It was a daunting task, indeed.”
Two direct admit patients waiting for an inpatient room to become available were getting more frustrated with each passing minute. Both registration supervisors went to the clinical floor to help Environmental Services clean the two needed rooms.
“This is one of the truest examples I have seen of not only teamwork and leadership, but also putting the words ‘patient-centered’ into action,” says Jones. “They did what was necessary to solve a problem.”
- An ED registrar brought potentially life-saving information to the attention of clinicians at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
A non-English speaking child presented to the ED with a fall injury, accompanied by a grandmother who also didn’t speak English and was communicating through an interpreter. After being examined for injuries, the child was about to be discharged. One of the ED registrars reviewed the packet of material that the grandmother had presented during registration.
“She found a school note that actually described a syncopal episode as the reason for the child’s ER visit,” says James. Based on this new information, the ED physician completed additional follow-up, which revealed that the child had pneumonia and was dehydrated. The child was given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and the child was admitted to the hospital.
“This story shows that we’re all part of the patient team, regardless of our title,” says James.
- Janet James, MBA, Patient Access Manager, Emergency and Outpatient Registration, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Phone: (215) 955-9697. Fax: (215) 503-1475. Email: Janet.James@jefferson.edu.
- Christopher R. Jones, MBA, Patient Access Manager, Mission Hospital, Asheville, NC. Phone: (828) 213-1931. Email: Chris.Jones2@msj.org.
- Gerilynn Sevenikar, Vice President, Hospital Revenue Cycle, Sharp HealthCare, San Diego. Phone: (858) 499-4215. E-mail: email@example.com.