2. Team-based care
It takes a village. No one person can provide the patient with everything that is needed. Through team-based care, the patient receives coordinated care. A standardized approach ensures a consistent, efficient, and predictable method to deliver care by all members of the healthcare team. More specifically, team-based care creates a strong partnership between the provider and medical assistant to exceed patient expectations (Figure 2). Examples of team-based care include:
- Supplies are provided consistently in each exam room through an organized and clean approach.
- The patient’s first point of contact is meant to have a first call resolution at least 80 percent of the time.
- Appointments are created to allow for new and established patients to get same day access.
- Check-in is hassle free and becomes a personalized experience.
- Visit preparation is done prior to scheduled appointment to ensure that all labs, imaging, results, and paperwork are in place to facilitate an easy visit.
- All visits start on time without delays.
- The patient is connected to the network of care for follow-up referrals.
- Morning and afternoon huddles for providers and medical assistants to review the schedule and anticipate patient needs. During these five-minute huddles, they review details of each appointment; discuss future, standing, or pending orders to be released during the visit; identify double booking opportunities and potential flow busters; and create potential countermeasures.
The team-based care approach and adherence to standard work will result in many improvements, including better access to providers, staff, and care with more value-added time (e.g., less waiting time, improved cycle time, rapid call resolution, and scheduling response).
3. Call center triage
Patients call the office with questions: She has a rash and wants to know if the provider can prescribe a cream. He has a cough and wants an antibiotic. She ate something that caused her to break out in hives and wants to know what she should do.
Handling telephone calls with these kinds of questions can be a challenge. The goal is to handle them at the first point of contact. But that is not always possible if there are not appropriate clinical protocols and licensed staff who can provide that clinical advice and guidance.
To avoid inefficient call forwarding, message taking, or delays, create a call center that can schedule appointments and answer clinical questions. Otherwise, physicians are bombarded with hundreds of messages that require a response, and it creates delays for anxiously waiting patients.
Having a licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse, registered nurse, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner available to answer clinical questions at the first point of contact creates a better patient experience by effectively and immediately addressing patients’ questions.