‘Massive’ training before new process

Every patient access employee at Cambridge (MA) Health Alliance (CHA) participated in a “massive” training program provided by the organization’s training, customer service, and information technology departments before a new preregistration program was rolled out, says Bettye Sabree, MHA, director of pre-registration and centralized referrals.

Staff members were given step-by-step instructions on the new process and the updated electronic scheduling system functionality. Staff were asked to use specific scripts, so that everyone within the organization communicated the same message to patients. [The scripts are included with the online version of this month’s Hospital Access Management.] Ongoing education keeps staff apprised of changes in payer requirements.

“You really cannot over-communicate,” says Sabree.

Patient access leaders communicate these changes to employees via the department’s newsletter, but they give managers the information first at monthly meetings. Sylvia C. Motta, manager of pre-registration and the call center, says, “If they have any questions, we can address those at that time and make adjustments before it’s in the newsletter.”

One issue involved the way newborns were pre-registered. “Through a couple of meetings with department managers and the pre-registration department, a new process was created that eliminated the concerns department managers had concerning updating newborn information,” says Motta.

The existing process made it difficult for departments to match lab work to the patient, she explains. The lab work done when the child was born was completed under “babyboy Smith” or “babygirl Smith,” which was updated to an actual name by pre-registration staff. “The new process is that if the child is born at CHA, pre-registration leaves the name as “babyboy/girl Smith,” and the department updates it to an actual name when the baby arrives at the clinic,” says Motta. “On the other hand, if the child is born outside of CHA, then pre-registration updates it to the real name.”