Access area benefits from standardization
Staffing is more accurate
At Louisville, KY-based Baptist Health’s seven hospitals, the focus on standardizing patient access and scheduling functions started two years ago, at the same time a new registration system was being implemented.
"Used properly, standardization has potential to be the most powerful tool within a healthcare system, but is often the least-used tool," says Myndall V. Coffman, MBA, system director of patient access and scheduling for Baptist Health.
After processes were standardized, says Coffman, "as expected, increased productivity, improved quality, and cost reduction has occurred." Here are some benefits the department is seeing:
• Patient access staff from other facilities are able to help with special projects or support short-staffed areas.
"When it was time to go live, one facility had some unexpected turnover," says Coffman. "A couple of staff members from another hospital were able to step in and help."
• Patient access areas no longer need to develop their own processes, policies, and procedures.
"This contributes to significant savings," says Coffman. "Managers are able to spend their time on perfecting those processes instead of developing them."
• Ensuring operations are consistent has improved the "clean claim" rate, and reduced denials.
"Selecting the proper insurance had become a frustration for staff members simply because the way the master was built appeared to be different," Coffman explains.
More accurate staffing
Standardized registration processes allows Kevin McAuley, senior manager of patient access at UK HealthCare in Lexington, to staff more accurately based on patient volume.
"When registration processes are not standardized, patient interaction and/or task times can vary greatly between team members," says McAuley. "This will prevent you from having a clear picture as to what your true staffing needs are."
When established properly, standardization provides the framework for what is to be achieved in each patient interaction, says McAuley. "This leads to better customer service, patient confidence, and more efficient clinic flow or throughput," he says.