Patient Access at Mercy Medical transformed a struggling unit to a robust call center that schedules both hospital services and physician office appointments. The department had been drowning in paper, losing orders and receiving frequent complaints. Transformations – including a digital workflow for orders and QA process for calls – improved outcomes so significantly that Patient Access was selected to add therapy and physician office scheduling to its services. How did they do it?
An Electronic Workflow for Orders
The first step was getting rid of the paper. Mercy Medical selected the Trace® platform from Vyne Medical and mapped an electronic workflow for faxed orders. Central Scheduling now receives all orders electronically through Trace.
Viewing orders by date of service, Central Scheduling works ahead to ensure that every order is complete and accurate prior to service. This eliminates the need to delay or cancel procedures as a result of missing or incomplete orders and ensures an efficient check-in for patients upon arrival.
Orders are linked to the patient account and accessible to all departments – Radiology, Admitting, Lab, and other ancillary areas. With this window into Central Scheduling, clinical departments view their own orders in Trace and proactively contact patients to book appointments. As a result of this added efficiency, one department reduced its chart assembly time from 2 hours to 30 minutes per day.
Quality Improvement in Patient Access
The next step in Mercy Medical’s Patient Access transformation was improving the quality of patient encounters. In 2016, the Patient Access Call Center began using Trace voice tools to record calls with physicians and patients. The department also began performing quality assessments of recordings in an effort to assess representatives in key performance measures.
Recording has been especially valuable in communicating patient self-pay estimates. Scripting is used to ensure that figures are presented as estimates rather than quotes. If an issue arises when the patient receives the bill, recordings are available to assist in resolution. Recordings also demonstrate to hospital leaders and referring physicians that patient responsibility is communicated in a clear and professional manner.
Using these tools, Patient Access at Mercy Medical has grown significantly while improving workflow, quality assurance and satisfaction among both patients and providers. Now a robust, high-performing organization with 80+ employees and a dedicated call center, the Patient Access Call Center schedules for 22 departments and 7 off-site facilities, including the recent addition of the health system’s hospital-owned physician practices and therapy services. Patient Access also manages patient check-in in Admitting and the Emergency Department and performs insurance verification for inpatient, outpatient, surgery, and therapy services.