A Partnership in Action

The CPUP Patient Service Excellence Academy, a new six-week apprenticeship training program, is dedicated to developing the most understanding and compassionate individuals to work as Patient Service Representatives at Penn Medicine’s clinical practices.

The Patient Service Representative (PSR) is a challenging and highly important component in the patient experience.  PSRs are often the first point of face-to-face contact for our patients.  They not only greet patients upon arrival, but also collect/verify insurance and referral information, and manage the “patient flow” of the waiting area.  PSRs are also responsible for maintaining medical  records in EPIC and communicating waits and delays. 

In addition, when a patient arrives for an appointment, he or she may be feeling disheartened, confused or overwhelmed.  The PSR needs to offer an experience tailored to each person’s needs when guiding patients through the registration and care process.

Recruitment Process

The Patient Service Excellence Academy took a new approach to PSR recruitment and onboarding.  Candidates were evaluated based on key attributes, such as orientation to service, problem-solving aptitude, communication skills and multi-tasking ability.  Additionally, new tools helped recruiters identify the “best fit” individuals for the job.  Montage, a virtual interview tool, allowed candidates to record answers to pre-determined questions so recruiters and practice managers could review virtually, prior to in-person interviews.  Additionally, CPUP recruiters  used the Healthcare Selection Assessment tool to gauge a candidate’s focus on service excellence and teamwork. 

Over a short period of time, these approaches and others narrowed a pool of 1,000 applicants to the inaugural Patient Service Excellence Academy class of 19 candidates. 

Learning by Doing

The Patient Service Excellence Academy  program bridges the technical components of the position (EPIC, insurance, check in, and check out) with the service-centered elements (courtesy, friendliness, problem solving, clear communication) in a highly-interactive, hands-on program.

As part of the training process,  participants worked with Standardized Patients -- ie, actors trained to play the role of a patient -- for the instruction, practice, and assessment of interpersonal skills. In this environment, each individual had the opportunity to work with a distracted patient, an angry patient and one who had just received bad news. “In each of these scenarios, the Academy participant was given one-on-one, personalized feedback by the actor, the facilitator and the some of the other academy participants,” said Frances Graham, Associate Director Workforce Development.

Participants also took part in a “service scavenger hunt. ”  Divided into groups, they went out into the community to find specific examples of good, bad or great customer service. When visiting donut shops, drug stores, or convenience stores, each group was instructed to ask specific product questions or non-store related questions, such as for directions to a nearby building. Academy participants were encouraged to carefully notice the answers provided, as well as the body language, eye contact, tone of voice and overall helpfulness of store clerks.  During a post-exercise debrief, the group concluded that although varying levels of service exist in the marketplace, good service can exist anywhere and is not always complicated to deliver. The class agreed that we could learn from non-health care organizations and apply those findings to Penn Medicine.

The final component of the Patient Service Excellence Academy was a three-week rotation through multiple CPUP practices.  This experience provided a great “on the job” opportunity for Academy participants to observe EPIC in use and understand how practice operations work.  Academy participants also found it valuable to see practices that vary in size, volume, location, specialization and patient demographics.  These three weeks also allowed Academy participants to practice their skills in a real-life environment and learn tips/techniques from our “star” PSR Preceptors.

Most exciting was the leadership and participation of so many internal Penn Medicine experts, said Beth Johnston, CPUP executive director. “This is a key component of the program,” she said.  “Working side by side with our top performing managers and staff is a great way to recognize our 'stars' while ensuring our newest PSRs see first hand the values we espouse made real in every day operations." 

During the six-week training program, Academy students met and learned from CPUP operations and finance leaders, as well as practice managers and many of our “star” PSRs, including:  

  • 20+ PSR “Preceptors”
  • Beth Johnston
  • Judy Schueler
  • Scott Schlegel
  • Jan Rossi
  • Adam Maselli
  • Bernadette Cucinotti
  • Bernard Griffin
  • Bridget McCormick
  • Carolyn Newmiller
  • Danielle Grant
  • Darien Fripps
  • Janet Lewis
  • Joe Goodyear
  • Kerry Nihill
  • Kim Elam
  • Stephanie Mackey
  • Lisa Mills
  • Michelle Docimo
  • Michelle Owens
  • Monique LeBlanc
  • Patrick Healy
  • Senthil Balasubramanian
  • Steven Honeywell
  • Tara Norwood
  • Terri Lind
  • Wilton Torres
  • Valerie Layden
  • Julie Perilstein
  • Frances Graham


Quotes from PSR Academy Participants

“The PSR Academy has been an amazing experience and certainly a journey.  I never would have imagined being part of a team who is rooting for your success. This academy has taught me it’s ok to be who you are. That it’s is ok to be remembered.” Valerie Fordham, PSR Academy participant

“I have greatly changed as a person over the six weeks I was a part of this Academy.  My confidence level has been raised and I feel like I am a part of something great.”  Cory Leone, PSR Academy participant

“The most unique part of this experience and what I believe to have been the most beneficial part of the program for me, was working with the Standardized Patients. It truly was an eye opening experience and prepared me to deal with and overcome the challenges I may face at the Clinical Practices. The confidence in myself and the ability to perform the duties I'm assigned has increased since the beginning of training.” Kia Stroman, PSR Academy Participant


Top photo: Allen Torrance, PSR Academy participant, answers a question during classroom training
Second photo: Latoya Prioleau, PSR Academy participant practices using EPIC in the Orthopaedics practice at PPMC as Fabian Marechal, Practice Manager, observes


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