Hospital Performance Improvement: Three Healthcare Management Council Partners Improve Hospital Efficiency Through Centralized Patient Registration and Scheduling

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While there is not a clear consensus on whether patient registration and scheduling centralization cuts costs at all hospitals, Healthcare Management Council ( Benchmark Partners Norwalk Hospital, William Beaumont Hospitals, and Baystate Medical Center have found their centralized scheduling systems improve efficiency and coordination in ways unique to their organizations.

At Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut, centralized scheduling streamlines access to the hospital's services and satisfies physicians and patients alike, in the following ways:

  • Centralized scheduling staff are stationed in close proximity to the Admitting office, increasing their efficiency due to the high volume of walk-in patients.
  • The average 95 faxes and 30 calls received each day from physicians' offices now require approximately 15 minutes to schedule.
  • The training process for central scheduling staff is broader so that they can schedule all procedure/visit types
  • Specific IT systems can now facilitate central scheduling by being "smart" about scheduling. They can build interactions, prep instructions, timing of the procedure, arrival times, and specific scheduling rules into the software. For example, the software should tell the scheduler that the patient cannot schedule a barium swallow within 24 hours of an ICP.

William Beaumont Hospital, Troy, Michigan

William Beaumont Hospital in Troy, Michigan uses a legacy centralized scheduling system that was established in the mid-1980s. Relying on a highly customized scheduling system, the central scheduling department manages 500,000 calls per year for over 300,000 services. Over the years, they have phased-in the scheduling of all radiology services, cardiology, neurology, employee health, nursing education, and other short-stay services. With 80 staff members in the department, there are 30-45 people scheduling patients for 2 hospitals and various off-campus facilities, including physician practices. As at Norwalk Hospital, Beaumont phased-in central scheduling a few departments at a time. With the support of the Hospital Director, centralized scheduling at Beaumont has been a success.

Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts

Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts modeled their centralized scheduling system on what they learned about physician scheduling at Cleveland Clinic, customer satisfaction at LL Bean, information systems at DEC, and hospital settings at Kaiser Permanente and the William Beaumont Hospitals. Centralized scheduling for this hospital with nearly 600 beds requires a 100-seat call center staffed by ~120 FTEs, including financial counselors, registrars and schedulers. They field 1,000,000 incoming and 550,000 outgoing calls per year for the scheduling of Baystate Medical Center, Surgery Center, 10 physician practices, and 30 ancillary offices. With IDX for scheduling and SMS for registration and patient accounting, the department manages procedures/visits for all hospital departments except the Cardiac Catheter Lab and Vascular Lab. With this system:

  • Baystate confirms that their centralized scheduling is more efficient and standardized than department-based scheduling
  • This greater efficiency and standardization decreased their bad debt and insurance denials
  • Patients and physicians are happier with the centralized scheduling process

Baystate Health System plans to apply their Springfield-area model to their Franklin Medical Center environment in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

These hospital performance ideas were the result of a Centralized Scheduling Roundtable conference call coordinated and moderated by the Healthcare Management Council's Knowledge Management Consultants. For more information on these articles and other HMC hospital networking events visit

Contact: Shelley Burns (

The Healthcare Management Council, Inc.

Area: Hospital Performance Improvement

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