Best Practice Winner: Boston Children's Hospital

Best Practice Awards,
We recently announced the 2023 PAC Best Practice Award Winners. This award recognizes members who have developed and implemented advances in patient access based on innovative approaches to the timely delivery of convenient, patient-centric care in the ambulatory enterprise of our organizations.

Now, we're taking a closer look at the best practices that won. This week we're spotlighting Boston Children's Hospital's best practice: "Centralized Specialty Referral Management."
Centralized Specialty Referral Management

Alisa and KevinLed by Alisa Marino, MHA, Program Administrative Manager of Patient Access; and Kevin J. Pawl, MS, FACMPE, Senior Director of Patient Access

We initiated this process to address the challenges that referring providers and families face in navigating multiple departments and contacts when scheduling appointments. Recognizing this difficulty, we streamlined the process and made it easier for them by centralizing communication. To achieve this, we established one fax number and one main phone number for referring providers and families to use when contacting us.

In order to effectively engage and communicate the service level agreement (SLA) with pediatricians, we conduct an orientation with each practice to familiarize them with the workflow.

We employ a proactive approach by making three phone calls and sending two text messages to the families, ensuring efficient and timely communication. If we cannot reach the family directly, we maintain communication with the pediatrician and provide them with updates. A daily report is sent back to the primary care physician (PCP) detailing the status of the appointment request, including information such as being unable to contact the family, successful scheduling, parental refusal, or department intake.

During this process, we also obtain the necessary medical records. The PCP sends the clinic notes and the appointment request, ensuring we have the relevant information to provide comprehensive care.

While implementing this best practice, we encountered a roadblock in the form of delayed turnaround times caused by staff shortages. However, we continuously strive to address this challenge and mitigate its impact on the overall process.

To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts, we generate monthly reports demonstrating an increase in volume and a decrease in the number of cases where contact with families could not be established. This data highlights our best practice's positive impact on the scheduling process's overall efficiency.

One significant improvement we have observed is the integration of text messaging, which has significantly enhanced the response time from families when scheduling appointments. With the introduction of text messages, we often receive prompt replies from families on the same day. Previously, relying solely on voicemails resulted in longer waiting times to hear back from families.

By implementing this new process, we have successfully addressed the challenges of navigating various departments and contacts when scheduling appointments. By centralizing communication and employing proactive strategies, such as multiple phone calls and text messages, we have enhanced our appointment scheduling process's overall efficiency and responsiveness, resulting in improved patient experiences.