According to Consumer Reports, the number one complaint of patients across the country is time spent in the waiting room. Nearly one in four patients said they waited 30 minutes or longer to see a doctor. Paulette McCullough, an RN and Senior Associate Executive Director at HHC is working to change that at Renaissance Health Care Network.
"In order to retain patients and attract new ones, patients must be treated with respect, they must be seen on time and on a day that is convenient to them," says McCullough. "It's my job to see that this happens."
An RN for 23 years, McCullough's started her career as a critical care nurse in the emergency room and intensive care units. For 19 years, she has worked at facilities throughout HHC, earning a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College along the way.
"I enjoy my job immensely because I have a great team. I love working in this community because, as a former Harlem resident, it's wonderful knowing that I have the opportunity to give back and make a difference," said McCullough.
Reducing patient waiting time is a top priority in all New York City public hospitals and health centers. Through the Ambulatory Care Restructuring Initiative, HHC facilities have cut the average length of a clinic visit in half, from over two hours to less than one.
The next phase is to make it easier for patients to get appointments when they want them, even the same day, making patients more likely to keep their appointment.
McCollough notes how reducing no-shows is key to having patients see their regular clinician and prevents staff time from being tied up with constantly juggling schedules. No-shows also impact productivity by taking away appointment slots that could have been used for a person who wants to be seen that day. And when a no-show is rebooked, the patient takes up another slot, making the wait for new appointments that much longer.
By implementing a range of basic and creative approaches to manage scheduling patient appointments more efficiently -- from reminder phone calls to certificates of merit for patients who show up on time -- HHC has been able to reduce no-show rates in primary clinics by 24 percent in a single year, from 34 percent in May 2006 to 26 percent in May 2007.
McCullough is particularly proud of the practices followed by the team at Renaissance, where they post no-show rates and patient testimonials to keep staff motivated and raffle prizes to patients who are on time and keep appointments.
McCullough says she also gets lots of her motivation from her family. "Both of my parents are alive and well. My mother, a cancer survivor, is a beaming light of encouragement for our family."
McCullough is the proud mother of two daughters, currently studying psychology and journalism. She enjoys vigorous exercise to keep her energized and gardening for the serenity and balance it brings to her life.