Virtually all patient access departments measure patient satisfaction in some way. But what about clinical area satisfaction with patient access?

At Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ, internal departments are surveyed about their satisfaction with various teams and departments, which includes admitting. “These results are taken seriously,” says Pamela Konowall, CHAM, assistant director of patient access.

Admitting receives a list of the names of the leaders rating their department. “This feedback, both positive and negative, is very valuable and important,” Konowall reports. The ratings are a strong indication of whether patient access is meeting customer service standards. Feedback also opens the door for some much-needed communication. “It gives the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or recognize a team member for giving exceptional service,” Konowall notes.

Departments are rated on accuracy, responsiveness, communication, and ownership, with a section for written comments. Results are sent to departments quarterly. “Admitting strives for a rating of 10,” Konowall says. “If a score below 8 is submitted, a meeting is immediately set up to determine what went wrong.”

There were only two instances in which someone rated the admitting department below 8. Both were found to be errors on the part of the person completing the survey. “This is why a follow-up meeting is extremely important,” Konowall offers.

In both cases, the people completing the surveys did not realize their answers were reflecting their experiences with patient access. “Both thought they were answering questions regarding their experiences for different departments,” Konowall says.

At Cooper University Hospital, patient access leadership rounds on both patients and families throughout the day. They look for:

  • how courteous patient access staff are during the registration process;
  • whether patients are given privacy during registration;
  • how easy it was for patients to provide personal and insurance information;
  • whether patients and family member are asked if they have any suggestions or concerns.

However, patient access leaders sometimes discover issues that are related to clinical areas, not patient access. “This most commonly happens when a provider is delayed, causing a patient to have a long wait,” Konowall says.

Often, patients are visibly upset about the delay, and vent their frustration to registrars. In these cases, leaders step in immediately. “The leadership team has the opportunity to do service recovery, if and when it’s needed,” Konowall notes.

Sometimes, patients complain to clinicians, and registration staff step in to help. One ED patient complained she was freezing while sitting in a hallway. Staff decided to offer warmed blankets to that patient and anyone else waiting for an inpatient bed.

There are times when clinicians hear positive comments about registration. These are shared with patient access leaders. A patient recently commented that one of the ED registrars was very efficient and moved patients “right in and out.” When comments such as this are received, a “shout out” goes out to the entire department via email.

The complimented registrars receive recognition at staff meetings. Managers give specifics on exactly what the patient loved about their registration experience. “The intent is for this behavior to be continued or duplicated,” Konowall explains.