It’s stressful to learn your child needs specialty care, particularly when they need to see providers across multiple departments. That’s why a team at Children’s Hospital Colorado is working to ease the burden of scheduling two or more appointments.
Rather than asking parents to call multiple services to arrange appointments on various days, parents can now make a single phone call. Their child will be scheduled with the right providers within 10 days – often with all their appointments on the same day.
The Multiple Appointment Resource Team, or MART, was launched 18 months ago with the goal of eliminating a time-consuming, exasperating burden for already stressed parents. The team (pictured left to right: Al Medina, Leslie Diaz, Nina Quangson, Jennifer Martinez and Staci Brown, RN) has received extensive training: 1) to understand each department’s scheduling guidelines and 2) to navigate the scheduling algorithms each department has within Epic. MART has invested a great deal of time in understanding the nuances of scheduling within each department, spending time talking with team members and attending departmental meetings.
“This project is more than just a scheduling team—in addition to the skills our schedulers bring, we have clinical support to ensure patients are scheduled correctly the first time,” said Chris Martin, vice president of ambulatory services at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
This support comes from a nurse coordinator who helps schedulers with complicated cases by completing a clinical review of the patient/family’s request. This might involve contacting the referring pediatrician for clarification or access to medical records, and mediating between schedulers and specialty departments to ensure that the patient sees the right provider at the right time. On average, around 40% of cases are referred to the nurse coordinator for review and recommendation.
The team currently averages 60 patient cases per month, which results in an average of 170 patient appointments scheduled every month.
“When we started the project, we made it our goal to complete the requests within 10 days. And we struggled with it. Recently we were able to add another scheduler to our team, and with this addition, we’ve improved our results. In July, 81% of appointments were made in the 10 day window. In August so far, we’re at 90%. We’re excited with these current results,” said Martin.
Michael Narkewicz, MD, professor of pediatrics and medical lead for the MART service, is pleased with the project’s initial accomplishments. “The willingness of the faculty leaders, specifically clinic medical directors to understand the importance of a centralized resource for multiple appointment coordination has been key in the initial success of this team,” he said.
Martin says that although he’s excited with the current results, increasing awareness of the MART service is next on the agenda. He and his team plan to work with the Physician Relations team, the Referring Provider Steering Committee and community pediatrician partners to make sure they are aware of the service.
“The number of requests the team receives is growing over time,” Martin said. “As we expand visibility and the number of requests continues to increase, we will be keeping a close eye on our team’s results to ensure we’re appropriately staffed.”
So far, patients seem pleased with the service. “We recently had a family come in for a series of appointments. At their last visit, they asked to meet their MART scheduler,” Martin said.
“This really made an impact on our entire team, and reminded us of the value this service offers to our patients. It’s the right thing to do to help support them. They’re already worried about the health of their child; it’s great we can provide a service that supports them.”
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