The patient access department at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis recently made some changes in how registrars interact with patients. All were designed to improve customer service.

“We are working to hardwire a level of service that our team will be known for,” says Christina Harney, vice president of access management.

Leaders did not need to guess what patients wanted. The changes were based directly on input from patient surveys and patient advisory meetings.

“These things may seem elementary, but we’ve seen just how important these behaviors are to our patients,” Harney says, outlining a few new changes:

  • Registrars use a patient’s name three times during every scheduling or registration interaction.

“There are many ways to incorporate the patient’s name,” Harney offers. Registrars routinely say things like:

- “Ms. Smith, can you verify your address for me?”

- “Ms. Smith, please review and sign this consent for treatment.”

- “Ms. Smith, you are in great hands with our radiology team.”

- “Ms. Smith, is there anything else I can help you with?”

- “Thank you, Ms. Smith.”

Certainly, using someone’s name repeatedly is not going to please anyone if a registrar says the name robotically. By speaking in a kind, soothing tone, “we make a personal connection,” Harney adds.

  • Schedulers pay attention to patients’ individual preferences. Patients place high value on scheduling appointments at locations close to them or at particular times of day that are most convenient.

“This has driven us to be more intentional about scheduling with our patients’ preferences in mind,” Harney reports.

  • The patient access team assures patients that they will receive care in a facility where they are covered by their insurance.

“We work to gather insurance information as early in the process as possible,” Harney notes. This ensures coverage for services and secures any necessary authorizations, putting the patient’s mind at ease.

  • Registrars use certain key words.

Staff say “My pleasure” instead of “You’re welcome,” and “absolutely” instead of “yes.”

“We have learned that this better supports a positive, memorable impression,” Harney says.