The goal of Patient Scheduling is to develop an integrated scheduling system that efficiently produces and manages patient-focused schedules while enhancing departmental operations.
The Patient Scheduling department is staffed with Registered Nurses. St. Jude is one of only a few hospitals in the country to staff their scheduling department in this way. Eighteen nurses take care of 25,000 patient appointments a month. We schedule in nine primary clinics, 11 sub-specialty clinics and 28 additional departments. Our schedulers also post patient appointments with outside clinicians into our system – this helps prevent scheduling “over-bookings” for our patients.
Why are nurses critical to the success of Patient Scheduling?
- Nurse Schedulers are the point of triage for all outside calls.
- Patients have a single contact for all scheduling needs.
- Many of St. Jude's patients have debilitative diseases and have very specific needs for their appointment days.
- Our patients typically have three to five appointments in a single day, and these appointments must be scheduled in a clinically correct order. At the same time, all the necessary resources must be available for that day. Scheduling minimizes the time a patient and his parents have to be on campus.
- Many patients and their families travel a great distance to be seen at St. Jude; Schedulers must take this into account. Also, patient appointments may be scheduled many months in advance, and parents often have many questions along the way. Nurse Schedulers make sure parents get answers.
- Nurses know how much time procedures require, they understand recovery times, and thay can iminimize interactions between appointments.
The Scheduling and Nursing combination is a success. Resource utilization and the number of procedures is going up each month! Patient satisfaction is going up at the same time.
“As a scheduler, I am able to give the families a voice in their care. By interacting with the patient and family, I am able to schedule appointments that are individualized in order to disrupt their life as little as possible. Quality time with family is important. The patients deserve as much as I can give.” Annette Green (RN of 20+ years)
Parents are given a Scheduling Survey, so they can list the child’s preferences. Schedulers ask if the child has a nap time each day, and we schedule around this time.
“This role, by far, has been the most challenging and rewarding in my career. Being a part of the St. Jude ministry to children is very satisfying. I do love what I am doing now.” Cindy Beumont (RN of 23 years)
James Magness is crystal clear on his role at St. Jude. “I am first and foremost a patient advocate,” (RN of 9 years)
Patient Scheduling has an expanding patient population. New MRIs are being installed this year. New clinical specialties are added each year. A new combined patient and research building was completed by 2007. St. Jude is growing and Patient Scheduling will meet its needs.