Take load off of busy providers

Make things easy for their patients

A “green light” process saves patients from waiting for long periods to obtain diagnostic tests, reports Tanya Powell, patient access director at Ochsner Medical Center — North Shore in Slidell, LA. “We strive to prep our cases three days in advance. Once prepped, we call to pre-register our patients over the phone,” she says.

When patients arrive at registration, they are immediately pulled to a booth, with no more than a five-minute wait. “When they pre-reg, they only have to sign their consent and receive their armband,” says Powell. “Their registration can be done in under 1.5 minutes!”

Provider’s offices are appreciative that their patients’ busy schedules are respected, reports Powell. Patient access employees use these other practices to increase providers’ satisfaction:

• Registrars print appointment confirmation sheets, which indicate the date and time of the test, the necessary preparation such as fasting or being deodorant-free, and when to anticipate a result.

“This is a training point for the physician staff that are not clinical,” Powell says. “By faxing the sheet to the provider, it eliminates them having to field a call.”

A Medicaid field representative attempts to pursue coverage for uninsured patients.

If the governmental coverage is obtained, members of the patient access staff submit follow-up emails or faxes to the attending physician, even retroactively, as a courtesy for their billing department. “This saves the physician office the cost of unnecessary billings, assists the staff to bill timely for timelier cash flow, and decreases bad debt costs. It also promotes a perception of coordination of services,” says Powell.

• Registrars ask for a face-to-face meeting with the charge nurses and office staff of community physicians.

At that time, patient access employees provide them with a quick a tour of the hospital’s registration and centralized scheduling areas. “When they see the layout and meet our staff, it helps them to visualize our operations,” she says. “If there is ever a problem contacting a particular area, they are aware of who is in the vicinity that they may get backup assistance from.”

Should a physician office have a problem calling a particular clinical department, for example, they know they can reach out to patient access as a backup to finalize a test or procedure. “In the lunch hour and at the end of the day, we receive a higher volume of calls,” says Powell. “If the physician is on hold, or the call is forwarded to a message box, they know they may utilize our other team members for assistance with stat procedures.”

• A team of case management transitional navigators prepares inpatients for their transition to discharge.

If the patient is having gastrointestinal issues, for example, the team calls the primary care physician or provides a referral and secures an appointment for a specialist before the patient is discharged.

“This allows for the continuity of care and a healthier patient,” says Powell. “We are also testing this in our emergency room, especially in the circumstance of orthopedics and gastro.”

• Registration created standardized, preprinted order sheets for laboratory and imaging, and shared these with physician offices.

“This is to help orchestrate an accurate and complete order,” says Powell. “It saves the physician office costs, by not having to free write the information on a script pad on their nickel!”

Registrars delivered a stack of forms to surgeons, primary care physicians, and other community providers, she says. Now, members of the clinic staff regularly come to registration to pick up additional forms as their stock depletes.

The order sheets prompt the provider to include the necessary patient information for medical and industry compliance, such as two patient identifiers, diagnosis, a provider signature, and the start and end date of the order. “Additionally, our charge sheet provides the accurate CPT codes to eliminate misinterpretation of which procedure/testing is ordered,” says Powell. “The CPT code allows us to have a more accurate verification of benefits and authorization for the patient’s care.” [The order sheet for outpatient diagnostic imaging is included with the online version of this month’s Hospital Access Management. For assistance, contact customer service at customerservice@ahcmedia.com or (800) 688-2421.]

• ED registrars were trained on the proper processing of an outpatient order.

If a patient presents outside of normal office hours with a physician order in hand, registrars now accept them as an outpatient.

“We coordinate with the ancillary department directly. Thus, they are bypassing additional emergency department waits, by having the order,” says Powell. “This is a big win for our working families and students.”


For more information on improving satisfaction of patients and providers, contact:

Tanya Powell, Patient Access Director, Ochsner Medical Center — North Shore, Slidell, LA. Phone: (985) 646-5132. Fax: (985) 646-5426. Email: tpowell@ochsner.org.