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Patient Experience Case Study - CentraState
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CentraState Medical CenterCentraState Medical Center




Getting it Right from the Start: Front-End Strategies for Improving Patient Experience

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?

Often referred to as the hospital's "gatekeepers", Patient Access associates touch every patient who walks through the hospital doors. At CentraState Medical Center, they help patients find coverage for care; they advise patients about their insurance benefits and manage authorizations for reimbursement of services provided; and they help ensure the financial viability of the organization by collecting patient financial obligations upfront. In each of these activities, staff must communicate often complex information to patients in a manner that is clear, thorough and compassionate. But ensuring the quality and accuracy of this communication was a challenge for CentraState before implementing a tool to perform quality assurance checks of employee interactions with patients.

What did you do to address it?

CentraState leveraged Trace, an existing technology platform the hospital was using to record interactions with payers for denial management purposes. The hospital expanded voice recording to include employee conversations with patients. CentraState now records all ingoing and outgoing calls in the call center, credit center and in patient financial services. Along with the recordings, CentraState also uses Trace to capture faxes, web visits and other communication about the patient. All recordings are indexed to the patient record and made available for retrieval through a searchable web interface, giving the hospital a complete picture of the patients path through the revenue cycle. Managers perform weekly quality checks of recordings and reference the results in employee reviews, training and service recovery efforts. Each scheduler also listens to a percentage of recordings each month for ongoing performance improvement. During quality checks, staff members are scored on specific criteria, including:

  • Following opening and closing scripts (AIDET)
  • Obtaining correct information
  • Scheduling and registering patient appropriately
  • Ensuring services are covered and reimbursed
  • Engaging tone of voice; active listening skills

What were the outcomes?

CentraState has used voice recording as a training tool to improve customer service throughout the facility. It has been especially beneficial in identifying customer service issues that may have otherwise gone undetected. "It's not enough to simply follow a script and go through a checklist of information we need from the patient, "said Gaye Werblin, Director of Patient Access. "We need to actively listen to and engage with the patient at every touch point, using each interaction as an opportunity to improve the overall experience." As a result of its improvement efforts, the Access Department's Press Ganey scores have remained well above the 90s for the past eight years.

Recordings also provide a backup for staff by verifying information they have communicated. For example, if someone questions whether a patient received a certain piece of information such as scheduling details, procedure instructions or financial obligations employees can easily search by patient and pull the associated recordings to verify the details that were communicated. If information is found to be missing or inaccurate, the facility uses that as an opportunity for service recovery with the patient. If the recordings show that details were communicated appropriately, they validate a job well done by the staff.

About CentraState Medical Center
CentraState Medical Center is an acute-care medical center licensed for 284 beds. The medical center became a teaching hospital in 2005 with the launch of its Family Medicine Residency Program in conjunction with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. In 2010, the hospital was re-designated with Magnet status for nursing excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) of the American Nurses Association. .

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