Patient services – more than just admin

Apr 15, 2024 | Reflective practice

People often query, ‘What do you do in hospital administration?’, and are surprised to hear how people-interactive and varied the role is. Administrative services are not only head down, waist deep in files, finance and administration, they are a central, people rich, active part of the hospital hub. A day in the life of patient services is packed with never-a-dull-moment scenarios… and if a space happens, great, catch-up time it is! 

We work closely with the patients, nurses, midwives, doctors, cleaners, hospital managers to assure a smooth pathway for patients during their hospital visit. Generally administrative services are the first point of contact for a person after learning that they require a medical procedure. With initial enquiries, the processing of forms and finance complete, patients arrive at the admissions reception and we prepare them for their next stage, walking them to the admissions nurses for theatre or straight to the ward. This first encounter can make the world of difference to how relaxed and reassured the patient is for the rest of their stay. You never know what a patient will present with – planned or unplanned procedure granted. People from all walks of life bring different cultures, beliefs, moods, expectations and needs and it’s so important to have the understanding and flexibility to respond to what is required. People also have different triggers and sometimes nervousness and tension can easily boil over into tears, anger or frustration.

One day a full-blown argument erupted at admissions, seemingly over a credit card transaction mishap. After calming the couple down and the wife leaving to go home, the husband, who was the patient and had taken the brunt of the fury, looked at me and said in a tender way, ‘You know, she doesn’t mean it, she is just very stressed’. ‘I understand,’ I said, ‘we have different ways of reacting when we are stressed.’  

Ultimately, it is essential that the patient feels supported, secure and cared for, knowing their medical records are accurate, private and complete as they hand themselves over to a yet to be known outcome. Updating and maintaining patient information is a major priority in our duty of care. If the files aren’t correct the legal and safety implications can be serious. 

With a cacophony of phones ringing and attending to patients, nurses, doctors and health care professionals’ needs, stress levels for administrative staff can run high, so staying light and on the ball, coupled with a great sense of humour is essential. All of this is what makes working in a hospital interesting, lively, challenging, fun, constant work, and most of all hugely rewarding.

What is so important is that all the different departments of the hospital communicate and work together, like one body, and every step of the way taking note to appreciate the spectacular service medicine offers through the various unique qualities that each and every one brings. 

We can blow the passé nurse/doctor/wardy/admin/cleaning and catering staff segregation away in a moment. How can we possibly do without each other?  It is so easy to emphasise the faults and idiosyncrasies of another, and may I say, we all bar none absolutely have these! Yes, sometimes the richer parts are more concealed than others 😉 but hey, honouring and appreciating the richness of the unique angle that everyone brings is there to be found. We may wear different uniforms and have vastly different responsibilities and tasks, but without the same dedication to the purpose of why we are here, a smooth-running train can be easily de-railed. See a work colleague getting snappy or stretched, don’t take it personally, and don’t judge – jump in and break the tension by checking to see how you can help.  

Coming up to my sixth year of working in hospital administration I can say that it has been the biggest learning curve and many times it feels like you are thrown in the deep end without knowing how to swim as new scenarios constantly surface. But what an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling job we have. 

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