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Carolina Family Care’s journey to Excellence

Melissa Altman, R.N.
Network director, CFC
Practitioners face many challenges in health care every day. One constant concern is how to make the most of the time practitioners  spend with their patients. This question can be over-simplified, but an effective answer requires thoughtful consideration. CFC has spent about a year and a half collecting and analyzing patient feedback to determine the patient's needs  and how the CFC staff can best meet those needs.
One of the first things learned was that there were too many functions in the front offices. As staff exchanged information, patients experienced frequent interruptions during phone calls. Calling patients were frustrated, because they frequently were placed on hold so staff could continue helping patients in the office. A solution was needed to provide uninterrupted, quality service to both patients in the office and those phoning in.
A small department , the patient access center, was established to serve as the first point of contact for all incoming calls. Appointments are directly scheduled and other call types are routed to the appropriate individuals.
CFC's Web  site has been designed to accept patient messages as well. Now, patients who prefer electronic communication can schedule an appointment, ask questions or provide feedback to their doctor by e-mail. The messages are answered within 24 hours. For those patients who are on-the-go and electronically equipped, this is a great new option. Patients are invited to visit to explore these options.
CFC staff also saw an opportunity to improve how test results are communicated to the patients. A consistent source of patient complaints was ongoing phone tag. To rectify this, the staff implemented an electronic notification product, Secure Reach, so that patients can access their test results at their convenience. Each patient is provided a personal identification number (PIN) to enter by phone to retrieve test results or followup instructions from his/her doctor.
Plans are under way to change the information management system to IDX. This will provide patients who are referred by CFC to MUSC specialists with a more convenient registration process. This information system change will prepare CFC staff for the integration of the Practice Partner system, which eventually will take the staff  to paperless medical records. CFC staff is excited about this change and how it will improve the availability of patient information to various departments and service lines.
On July 1, CFC will welcome three new internists to the organization: Miranda Horton, M.D., who is joining the 30 Bee St. location; Elizabeth Call, M.D., who is joining the I-526-West Ashley location; and Anne Marie Fields, M.D., who will be at the new Park West location. The group is excited to have these new physicians joining CFC and will begin scheduling patients in early May for the July schedule.
A reminder: This is the season for insurance deductibles.
For CFC patients' convenience,  payments may be made by  check, credit card or cash. Patients will be asked which method of payment they prefer at the beginning of each visit. To avoid delays, patients are encouraged to bring their insurance card and be prepared to pay any out-of-pocket visit expenses at the time of their visit.

Friday, Feb. 29, 2008
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