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CareConnect Preferred Name Program to improve patient experience

Patient experience is at the center of how Penn State Health delivers care. The health system took another step forward in personalizing care when it introduced the CareConnect Preferred Name Program on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.

Patients have provided feedback on how Penn State Health can improve the patient experience, including asking patients’ care teams to address them by their preferred names. Patients’ preferred names are what they wish to be called other than their legal names. For example, the patient’s legal name may be “Susan,” but she prefers to be called her nickname, “Sue.” A transgender patient’s legal name may be “Nicholas,” but she prefers to be called “Nicole.”

This change will address a common cause of patient dissatisfaction and insurance claim denials — discrepancies between preferred and legal names. Registration staff will ask patients how they prefer to be addressed. The staff will enter those names in the new preferred-first-name fields of the electronic health record (EHR).

“We see this program as the next step in our continuing efforts to improve the patient experience and make the health system more inclusive,” said Pam Reifinger, senior systems analyst for Penn State Health CareConnect and Clinical Information Systems.

All Penn State Health entities will participate in the Preferred Name Program, except the Penn State Health Medical Group Community Practice Division, which does not use the Cerner Millennium EHR platform.

Before addressing a patient, direct care providers have been instructed to look for the preferred name on the patient’s wristband, in the patient summary, on demographic banners in the EHR and registration applications and on the face sheets for Cerner PowerChart and registration.

Patients who do not give a preferred name at the time of registration but decide to do so later may ask providers to update their records. Providers are then supposed to communicate the preferred name to the scheduling pool verbally, by email or through a message, as registration staff must enter the information.

Penn State Health is one of Cerner’s first university health centers to collect patients’ preferred names.

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