What is Centralization?
Centralizing your patient access operations involves a comprehensive program of work whereby the various strands of access, including appointment scheduling, referral management, nurse triage, and patient access communication channels are co-ordinated under one operational function.
Centralizing patient access operations can be challenging in the short-term, but the benefits over the long-term are substantial and clear. By bringing patient access ‘under one roof,’ either literally or virtually, with multiple sites operating as one, it is possible to improve efficiency, reduce duplication of effort, improve the patient and provider experience, and ultimately improve the overall patient access model.
Natural Growth leading to Fragmentation
For many healthcare systems, natural growth and development over time creates a situation where their operations can be widespread across geographic locations. With each different location potentially having its own approach to patient access or appointment scheduling operations. Different offices may schedule appointments in different ways, for example. This can lead to an inconsistent patient experience and challenges at a system-level managing access.
A similar situation can occur when there is a merger of two or more healthcare systems, or even the acquisition of smaller groups of providers.
In each instance, if there is a desire to streamline processes and to improve patient access, centralization of patient contact is a strategic option.
Centralization requires commitment
It is not uncommon for patients and providers to face challenges around access. Centralization can help, but it does need commitment. This biggest obstacle we have found is getting systems to stay the course. Just like medication, you must complete all the stages of the process to see the full benefits of centralization. To create a centralized patient centric access center is not a six-month project. Physically, yes, it is possible to create a single hub in a short time frame.
But, to have a centralized, system wide, approach to access is an ongoing process that takes commitment and long-term vision. For example, organizations often request the latest consumer technology for their contact center but may not have considered the operational foundations needed for the long-term success of the investment.
RelateCare help develop an understanding the end-to-end workflows and the impact on the teams in scope to support the deployment. Deciding on the ‘must haves’ versus ‘nice to haves’ is critical to ensure implementations of innovative technology get buy-in from leaders at all levels within organizations.
Long term benefits
The benefits in the long run are significant, from an efficiency, costs and most importantly provider and patient experience perspectives. Centralization also creates opportunities to upskill and engage staff, offers a more consistent patient experience and leverages economies of scale in the use of technology and telephony systems.
Centralization has proven for many organizations to be a transformative strategy that can successfully optimize and streamline patient access channels
Taking the First Step
Every journey starts with a first step. We recommend the process of centralization starts with a Current State Assessment in order to get a full understanding where our clients are starting from.
This allows for us to develop out the road map with the client based on the specific and unique needs of the organization. This will allow the healthcare system to see the full scope for the work ahead. It really helps deliver on the strategy and the vision for the client when we complete the pre-work and discovery phase in advance.