Pilot Program Streamlines Patient Registration at Holyoke Medical Center

HOLYOKE — Whether you’re at a bank, grocery store, or motor vehicle registry, everyone likes a line that moves along at a fast pace.

Holyoke Medical Center is testing a new program that should keep its lines moving as well, and possibly bypass the lines altogether.

For the past few months, patients who are having magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or pre-admission testing (PAT) procedures have been part of a pilot program that allows them to skip the line at the admissions desk, saving them both time and effort.

“We’ve started pre-registering MRI and PAT patients over the phone,” said Chris Dippolt, a registered nurse who serves as the Pre-admission coordinator at Holyoke Medical Center.

Contacting the patients in advance by telephone allows the hospital to get all the demographic and insurance information required, which then allows patients go right up to where their appointments are.

Debbie Thomas, Patient Registration manager at the hospital, added that patients are encouraged to call the hospital in advance of either of these procedures, as well.

“Sometimes people move, and we may not have their correct phone number,” Thomas said. “Other times we may call when they’re not home, so if they call us, hopefully it will eliminate a lot of telephone tag.”

MRI and PAT patients can call (413) 535-2575 to pre-register, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thomas added.

The reason people having MRI and PAT procedures were chosen was that those two groups would provide a sufficient number of patients with which to measure the success of the pilot program, but not so many as to put undue burden on the staff while it was being tested.

A second part of this streamlining of the patient registration process involves people who are having scheduled outpatient diagnostic procedures between 7 and 11 a.m. Previously these patients would have to wait in the registration line with everyone else. Now the registration desk has been divided in half so that people with appointments are separated from those without them.

“Before, if you had an appointment and there were five people in line ahead of you who did not have appointments, you would have to wait your turn,” Dippolt said.

Now patients with appointments can have a quicker check-in.

“We quickly verify their information, obtain signatures, apply the wristband, and direct them to the correct department,” she said. “Patients still need to bring their IDs, insurance cards, and physician orders. Without this information, we are unable to complete the check-in process.”

Nancy King, the manager of the MRI department, said that the streamlining has been a hit with both staff and patients.

“We’ve noticed a very positive impact,” King said. “Our patients think it’s a lot easier because they can just report to us, and we like it because we can verify information beforehand.”

Thomas said that the next step will be to add more procedures to the calling process and to expand the calling times into the early evenings.

“Our goal is to make the check-in process simple while still maintaining the ability to verify accuracy,” said Thomas.

For further information, call (413) 534-2540.

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