Access gets voice in novel clinical program

Registration process is quick and easy

Members of the patient access staff were trained along with clinical personnel before a novel new program was offered to patients at Downtown Health Plaza of Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, NC.

Training covered the premise behind the program’s model, the structure of the program’s group sessions, and the enrollment process of Centering-Pregnancy, a group prenatal care program that includes a health assessment, education, and support structure. Women of approximately the same gestational age choose to be a part of group care instead of traditional care, meeting monthly initially and once per week closer to delivery. Groups meet at the same facility as those receiving traditional care, but instead of being in the normal flow of the clinic, they are in a separate area in close proximity to the clinic.

“With this training, the patient access staff are able to provide details about CenteringPregnancy with the patient during check-in, check-out, and during phone encounters,” reports Mary Fitzmaurice, CNM, CenteringPregnancy program coordinator. “One of the obvious changes was the registration process.”

The clinic’s CenteringPregnancy patients register separately from the other patients and do not wait in line to register. Instead, they are directed to the back of the clinic, where there is a patient access staff member registering only CenteringPregnancy patients. “Therefore, registration is easier and faster,” says Monica Brown, MPH, health center manager. “We utilize the staff members with the most experience and the least amount of registration errors.”

Opportunity for access

Patient access staff is part of each steering committee meeting and actively participate in unplanned troubleshooting sessions that happen real-time in the clinic setting, adds Brown. For example, a patient access employee might need to coordinate transportation for a patient to or from the program, contact a patient that missed the group, or assist providers who are less familiar with the program.

The program gave patient access staff a great opportunity to be an integral part of the planning and implementation of a new, innovative program, and to have a voice in its ongoing operations, says Brown. Patients are more satisfied because they don’t sit in the waiting room, and sessions always begin and end on time.

“As we, in the healthcare industry, become more patient-centered, registration will be an area that we will attempt to streamline,” says Brown. “We will become more innovative in how we provide this service.” Future patients might be registered over the phone or electronically, in the examination room, on in their cars, drive-through style, she says.

Hospital leaders are looking into a Centering-Parenting program to provide group pediatric care, mobile well visits for pediatric patients that are delinquent, and home visits in internal medicine, for example. “Each project would require us to rethink our registration processes,” says Brown.


For more information on the CenteringPregnancy program, contact:

Monica T. Brown, MPH, Health Center Manager, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, NC. Phone: (336) 713-9621. Fax: (336) 713-9619. Email:

Mary Fitzmaurice, MSN, CNM, CenteringPregnancy Program Coordinator, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, NC. Phone: (336) 713-9665. Fax: (336) 713-9655. Email: