ANTHC working to improve travel and housing coordination for our peopleApril 22, 2019
One of ANTHC’s top priorities is increasing access to care for our people. As more than 60% of our patients travel from outside the Anchorage area for care, increased patient access also means increased demand for travel and housing services.
ANTHC is working on key initiatives around travel management and housing. These are important to ANTHC’s strategic goals to increase coordination and access to care within the Tribal health system.
ANTHC’s Travel Management Office (TMO) was established in July 2016 and continues to evolve and improve patient travel coordination. In the past when patient travel authorization was received, the patient and/or escort called to make their own airline arrangements and make additional calls to arrange hotels in Anchorage. Many times, patients didn’t have a say in the air carrier they flew – it was determined by contract.
Now, once authorization is received, the ANMC Patient Travel Coordinator makes every effort to contact the patient to coordinate their travel arrangements according to their preferences. Patients now receive a comprehensive itinerary with all their lodging, travel and appointment information in one document. Patients who cannot be reached also receive this itinerary, which contains information on how to confirm lodging, travel and appointment information.
Because ANTHC has increased the number of specialty care appointments available, the demand for patient housing has increased for those patients traveling to Anchorage. In 2017, ANTHC opened a 200-bed housing facility on campus but availability of specialty care appointments continues to outpace the number of on-campus lodging options, so Anchorage area hotel rooms continue to be booked for some patients. ANTHC is also improving processes to let patients know where they are staying in advance and ensuring all parts of the travel and care experience meet patients’ expectations.
Another new feature is the Medicaid Travel Desk located near Admitting at ANMC where our customers can pick up their Medicaid vouchers and itineraries. A TMO employee is now available during the desk’s operating hours of Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
In October 2018, the Patient Housing staff started confirming guests into their preferred housing location prior to arrival, which allows our people to better plan their trip to ANMC for care. A patient recently commented on the convenience of knowing the location of her accommodations in advance of arrival, “My first time here at the new building. The whole trip was such a breeze. I knew my room number and status before I got there. It was great!”
In the past, patients couldn’t call to check on the status of their authorization, they had to wait for their medical provider and/or clinic to contact them. Today, patients can directly call our team for status of their authorization. This process helps us obtain patient travel preferences and alert clinics if travel requests have not been received.
We will continue to provide updates about our ongoing efforts to improve access to care, travel management and housing services for our people.