Patient Access Throughput: The Strategy to Success

In today’s healthcare world, health systems experience constant change and at times, a state of the unknown. Patient care is the business of the hospital and when processes are inefficient, business is inefficient.  Medical groups and hospital systems are focused on reducing costs and consequences to patients, staff and the organization as a whole.  However, the overall goal is to improve the ability to optimize how efficiently the processes and operations are managed.

Opportunities for Improvement

  1. Lengthy admissions/outpatient wait times continue to be a major area for improvement
    1. Cross-training scheduling staff to create accounts, schedule, and begin the pre-certification process will reduce the number of calls to the patient prior to the date of service (DOS)
    2. Assign verifiers to “physician teams”
    3. Manage block schedules
    4. Provide the benefit of obtaining co-pay, deductibles, and (out-of-pocket) OOP during the pre-registration process to minimize intake process at the time of arrival
  2. Engagement
    1. Minimize patient complaints through service recovery methods
    2. Open communication with physicians/departmental leaders (i.e., office visits/monthly meetings)
    3. Educate and engage employees to increase customer service
  3. QA, QA, QA! – Accountability is KEY!
    1. “On Your Mark” accountability will minimize errors, denials, rebills, wait times, and patient complaints


As organizations strive to exceed the patient’s expectations, they must continue to explore new ways of streamlining the patient access processes to improve the patient experience. Today’s consumer is a savvy, educated consumer and they anticipate exceptional service.  The following patient access initiatives can benefit organizations in serving their patients:

  • Pre-registration – Online access, patient portals, etc.
  • Patient access advisors
  • Customer service training
  • Discovering strengths by utilizing the Lean Process, Six Sigma, Eagle Wings, etc.
  • Leadership development (placing the patient’s needs first)

Ongoing Initiatives

Health systems have an interesting road ahead of them, but one thing is certain – the patients come first. Staying abreast of updates on the national and local level is essential to implementation of any strategic initiatives moving forward.  Organizations must continue to make their experience the best, and exceed the goals of stakeholders while doing so.  Communication, education, exploring options and listening to the “customers” will help healthcare providers reach those successful practices.







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