JOHNSON CITY - A hospital stay can be frustrating enough without having to deal with a lengthy admission process, so Johnson City Medical Center officials are changing the way they handle patient registration, starting with the admitting office itself.
Hospital officials unveiled the newly renovated admissions area Wednesday, which features a more comfortable atmosphere and six private cubicles for patients going through the registration process.
"It's been about 20 years since the admitting office has been renovated," said Pam Crusenberry, Mountain States Health Alliance director of patient access. "Patients will find more privacy in the cubicles and a more inviting and comfortable waiting area. We've done away with the bus station-style seating in an effort to provide a more efficient and patient-friendly environment."
In addition to a more patient-friendly admitting office, MSHA recently introduced online preregistration, which allows some patients to expedite the admissions process even further.
Preregistration makes everything go more smoothly when it's actually time to check in to the hospital because the patient has already filled out the necessary questionnaires and insurance forms before they even walk through the door.
Preregistration will become an even more valuable tool later this year when hospital officials add computer check-in kiosks at the admissions desk.
"The idea is that if you've gone through that preregistration process, when you show up here you would be able to interface with a kiosk just like you do at the Delta counter at the airport. With a confirmation number, you would be able to pull up your file, have your driver's license and your insurance card imaged, and you'll be directly off to your place of service," said Kerry Vermillion, chief financial officer for MSHA's Washington County operations.
Currently, about 12 percent of patients who come to the hospital for a planned stay choose to preregister, but health system officials hope to increase that figure to 75 percent by the year's end.
The upgrades in JCMC's admissions process represent a fundamental shift in the way MSHA intends to handle patient paperwork, Vermillion said.
"Our plan for the future is that patients would be spending less time in the admitting process and that we would speed up the process of them getting to their place of service," he said.
"We're currently doing bedside registration in most of the emergency departments across the alliance, and we're doing a pilot right now on bedside registration for inpatients. We would actually have those who are preregistered and are direct admits to the hospital come to the hospital and go directly to a patient room and an admitting clerk actually completes their registration in the room.
"We've been doing a lot more than redesigning space. We've been redesigning our processes, and this space will be a visible evidence of that."