Scheduling Improvements with Patient Access Manager Anna Ours

Anna Ours, Patient Access Manager at Grant Memorial Hospital in Grant County, West Virginia, handles scheduling and pre-registration processes that might involve 4 to 5 moving parts for a single appointment. With support from MEDHOST, Anna was able to transform the way her team and the hospital’s five standalone clinics communicate with patients, increasing the number of people they can serve every day. She walks us through the importance of having team buy-in on the front end when implementing major changes to a department’s system, especially when high-quality patient care hangs in the balance.

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Further Reading:

6 Ways Online Appointment Scheduling Benefits Community Hospitals

Podcast: How Community Bridge Cuts Through the Maze of Lost Referrals with Gina Williams

Infographic: The Journey to Patient-Centric Care Coordination

 

Transcript

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Anna Ours: We’re all about the patient. So what can we do to make it easier and better for the patients?

Host: You’re listening to Anna Ours, patient access manager at Grant Memorial Hospital in Grant County, West Virginia. In her day-to-day, she handles scheduling and pre-registration processes that might involve four to five moving parts for a single appointment. MEDHOST’s Community Bridge technology took the small critical-access hospitals’ complicated series of phone calls and fax orders to a comprehensive platform for scheduling and confirming appointments.

Anna: Today’s young adults are all about technology. They want to do it themselves. They don’t want other people in charge of basically any aspect of their lives. So they want to be able to schedule that appointment themselves. They want to be able to see what’s available, to see what works with their schedule.

Host: This is Health IT on the Record, presented by MEDHOST, a show that dives into how health information technology innovations impact every aspect of a health system, from multi-hospital networks down to individual patients.

With support from MEDHOST, Anna was able to transform the way her team and the hospital’s five stand-alone clinics communicate with patients, increasing the number of people they can serve every day. She walks us through the importance of having team buy-in on the front end when implementing major changes to a department system, especially when high-quality patient care hangs in the balance. Enjoy the conversation.

Anna: Hey, everybody. My name is Anna Ours. I’m from Grant Memorial Hospital in Grant County, West Virginia. I am the patient access manager there. I’ve been there for five years as a clerk and four years as the manager.

Host: Thanks so much for taking some time to talk a little about what happens in your world and some of the pinpoints that you can see up close and personal when it comes to appointment and patient scheduling. But before we really jump into the tactics and the trends of what you see, sort of talk about the what. What are you doing on a daily level? Kind of walk me through the day-to-day. What kind of work are you and your team doing?

And then we’re going to take a look from the past, before you made some changes and began working with Community Bridge, and we’ll kind of fast-forward to where things are today. And also I would love, if we’ve got time, to talk through kind of the what if you could go back and tell yourself what you would do differently. Because anytime you’re rolling out new software, new solutions, you’ve got some adoption that you have to work on. So we’ll get to that. But first, kind of walk me through your day-to-day.

Anna: So my role at Grant Memorial is the patient access manager. And I am over staff that does surgery scheduling and registration. I have pre-registration and scheduling in the radiology department. I have staff that work in the ED registration. And then I have the admissions office that does registration, scheduling, admissions, just about anything that you could want there. So I have 19 staff.

Host: So you’re the traffic controller.

Anna: I am the traffic controller, yeah. I’ve got to try to make everybody happy. Oh, and I also have the switchboard. I forgot my switchboard.

Host: Okay. You’ve got that going too. So you’re juggling a lot.

Anna: I am, yes.

Host: Now, you’ve been here for about, in this particular role, four years. So before all of these changes came to be, to kind of streamline all the players, all the pieces together, kind of what was the before? What were you doing? How does it work with phone calls, coordinating? What was that like?

Anna: What happens is physician’s office, they would like to have a specific test. So they would call the scheduling line. And if it’s busy, they either hang up or they leave a message. If they’re lucky to get through because, like I say, I’ve only got two schedulers to service Tri-County Area, then they would schedule what the person on the other end of the phone stated. Now, we would hope and pray that it’s not the wrong test; it’s the test that the physician wanted.

Host: Right. Because the more variable touch points, the more you have to stay laser focused on that. So that’s a good way to look at the past. Now, when you knew that it was time for a change and you began working with MEDHOST, the Community Bridge as a tool for you, tell me a little about the implementation process on what you had to be doing, but also, as you needed, what kind of support you could get from MEDHOST to partner and walk alongside with you.

Anna: Right. Implementation was – I believe this is one of the easiest that we’ve actually had to do. There wasn’t a whole lot of setup. There was some behind-the-scenes setup, securities for us because we have five clinics of what clinics the clinic staff could schedule for. But all in all, it was very seamless, and I had great support at MEDHOST. I mean Gina and Jaycee, and they brought their team to Grant to help us on our go-live date. They set the schedulers down along with the radiology staff because they also schedule when my girls are not able to, or maybe on a weekend. So radiology staff, we had to get buy-in from them as well as their manager. And they were all for it.

The one thing about Grant is we’re all about the patient. So what can we do to make it easier and better for the patient? And then they were able to bring in my whole staff and explain to them why we were doing this and what benefits it would be for them because of this, and I don’t want to say new system, but just this new update for them and the way that their workflow would actually improve. Now, they would register a patient. This is my normal registration staff. They would register a patient, scan the orders in, get signatures, whatever they need.

But with Community Bridge, in 2019 they’re going to be able to see those orders. So that’s one less step that they’re going to have to do. They’re not going to have to scan an order in. It’s going to be in there for them. So I know we are all looking forward to that.

Host: Health IT on the Record is brought to you by MEDHOST. With over 30 years of experience partnering with providers nationwide, MEDHOST is helping evolve better solutions for healthcare management through innovative workflows and technologies. For more information visit www.medhost.com. Let’s jump back in.

Host: So when you look at the patient experience today versus what it was like in the past before you implemented this tool, what kind of differences do you see?

Anna: Well, I’ll tell you with our pre-registration we went from 96% a month to 98%, which if you’re a patient access manager – you know that seems 2%, but that’s a huge jump. That means that we can reach 98% of the patients that we’re going to service.

The patients are really thankful. They’re thankful to know on the date of their doctor’s appointment when they’re going to come on. And they’re thankful that they’re able to get a printout that says, “Hey, you’re having this done. Do you have any tattoos? Do you have any metal? Make sure you don’t eat or drink after midnight.” And they really love the email or text message, whichever one they would prefer, back saying, “Hey, this is to confirm you have an appointment.”

Host: It’s more touchpoints for them without creating the extra work on your side, and they like it.

Anna: Absolutely.

Host: Good deal. So kind of as we’re slowly kind of starting to wrap up, it’s still helpful to hear from someone who is there on the frontline working in this space that you’re doing. But one of the things I think you have a really keen insight on is helping and encouraging your team along to make changes. So for people who have been set in their ways, maybe that it was just paper only and the faxes and all that, do you have a tip or two? Maybe if you could go back and tell yourself, “I wish I could have done this more,” what seemed to work really well in that transition?

Anna: I think maybe instead of making the transition and then explaining why, I think I wish I would have explained why to the staff.

Host: Because you’ve got it. You understand.

Anna: Right. Right. I understand it. I can see it from a different viewpoint than they can. But if I could explain to them why before we made the change and had their buy-in from the beginning, then I believe it may have went just a little bit smoother for the staff.

Host: Can you think of any of the biggest questions that you might have had? Is it just the “why” that you’re getting?

Anna: It’s the “why” and it’s the difference in the system than what they were used to using before. Now it’s more of a web-based product. And if the internet is running slow that day, then it’s going to be a little bit slower so they could get frustrated with that.

But that’s the world we live in, right? I mean our patients, they want that ability to go in and they want to schedule their own appointments. So I’m really excited to where Community Bridge is going in the future. The next couple years are, I think, really going to be exciting for MEDHOST and this product that they have. It’s amazing.

Host: Well, that’s wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing that, and also just thanks for sharing your experience with this.

Anna: Oh, my pleasure.

Host: It’s always fun to talk with folks like yourself who know what they’re saying. They can kind of zoom us in on what it’s like. So thank you again for taking the time, and I hope we can find another way to connect again in the future.

Anna: I appreciate the fact that you invited me and I’d be glad to come back again.

Host: Thanks for listening to Health IT on the Record, presented by MEDHOST. For more stories and content like this, be sure to visit medhost.com/resources. Thanks.

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