Based on the questions posed in Part I of our NPC e-blast and your responses, you are most likely realizing that improved methods of triaging, scheduling, registering, evaluating and maintaining contact with new patients and their referring providers need to be implemented in your practice.  As a podiatric consultant, I am continually searching for ways to improve patient care, increase administrative and clinical efficiency and protect the bottom line for my practices. Every year, as healthcare “evolves” this becomes more of a challenge.  The term New Patient Coordinator is not one that I invented or wish to take credit for, however, it is a concept that I feel most practices would benefit from with methodical implementation and adaptation.  Please use the ideas below to think about how you could implement your own version of New Patient Coordinator. 

Our New Patient Coordinator (NPC) serves as the primary liaison to the practice for new patients and referring physicians, working in conjunction with scheduling and clinical staff to improve efficiency and work-flow.

During initial appointment scheduling (with administrative staff or call center), basic information is obtained and entered into the EHR (to include):Patient given name (exactly as displayed on insurance card)Date of birth Insurance(s) and ID number(s)Primary Care Physician/Referring provider or source Reason for visit Prior to ending the initial call, the scheduling team member politely requests that all intake paperwork be completed and submitted prior to visit (or brought in completed at the time of visit).  “Mrs. Soprano we ask that you either complete and submit your intake paperwork ahead of time or bring it with you completed at the time of your appointment. This allows us to keep wait times down and to make your visit as efficient as possible.” The patient is then instructed to visit www.yourpracticenamehere.com and at the top of the home page click new patient registration forms. For patients who are unable to access forms online, two other options are provided: A 15-20 minute pre-visit phone interview (with the NPC) ORAn in-person interview scheduled at least 30 minutes prior to the actual appointment time (similar to interviews performed prior to surgical procedures in a hospital or surgery center)During this interview, all remaining demographic and clinical information will be recorded directly into the patient’s chart including:

Confirmation of reason for visit/chief complaint. Most MIPS measures (Height, Weight, Smoking Status, Immunizations, etc.) Vital Signs, Medications and allergies, Personal and family medical history. For all other patients, a welcome email is sent immediately following the initial phone call with appointment and location details as well as a direct link to download, complete and securely submit paperwork ahead of the visit.  Instructions on how to print and complete paperwork at home are also be provided.  If a direct link with patient portal login information is included in the welcome email, it is advised to also provide further instructions (such as a link to a short tutorial video)

**Financial policy, HIPAA and consent to treat may still need to be signed at the time of visit (if forms are not completed via the portal). For patients with commercial payers, the NPC will perform insurance eligibility and benefit checks (to determine active coverage, copay, deductible and other out of pocket expenses that may be incurred). Information obtained will be discussed during the phone interview or in addition to the reminder communication (in order to inform and prepare the patient for any monies that may be owed during the visit). Even if utilizing automated reminder systems, it is advisable to communicate with new patients directly in order to discuss practice financial policy details The NPC is responsible for following up/rescheduling missed new patient appointments and after 2 no-show incidences communicating with referring providers via professional communication (documenting the practice’s efforts in coordinating care).  The NPC ensures that patient updates and consult visit notes are e-faxed to PCP/Referring providers within one week of new patient visits or procedures.

Keep going… what else could the NPC do for your practice?

Click here to read the American Medical Association’s take on the subject and see projected time and cost savings for your practice.

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