Q&A: Behind-the-Scenes With The Healthcare Staffer Making Your Life Easier
Anyone who has had to navigate back roads during a snowstorm — or worse, the morning after — understands the necessity of driving a reliable ride. Its importance is twofold: not only does one want to arrive at work on time, but it’s also essential that it’s done safely. Enter: Subaru. After careful research, Patricia Richter decided to invest in a Subaru Crosstrek. Both a mother and Lead Patient Service Representative at Cooper Outpatient Office in Willingboro, New Jersey, Richter needed a dependable vehicle that allowed her to traverse tricky trails and always be on hand to put her patients’ minds at ease.
Today, Richter divulges her tips for effective teamwork, professional challenges (plus, how to combat them!), and why her Subaru has become a cold-weather lifesaver.
What exactly does being a lead patient service representative entail?
I’m a liaison between then patient and the doctor, that’s how I look at it. I do everything from scheduling interviews to verifying insurance; it gives people direction on where they’re going. And sometimes, I explain a few things to them in terms of their insurance. They often ask me a lot of questions about the doctors. I’m a wealth of information!
I work in two different offices, an internal medicine practice and a specialty practice. We have cardiology gastroenterology, endocrinology and pulmonary. We do some testing as well.
With your experience working in a lead capacity, do you have any tips for managing teams?
We have a team approach. I think the key to management and working in a team is making people want to work for you: active listening, actions, and I think listening are the most important aspects. In this office, we have six patient service reps and there’s another lead as well and across the street — which is the internal medicine practice — there are six over there as well.
Is the Cooper Outpatient Office involved in any community outreach? Which programs are you most excited about?
Oh, yes! Right now, we’re doing the Backpack Program. We go out and buy school supplies, fill up the backpacks and then we distributed them to students. We also do Adopt-A-Family during the holidays and we have a coat drive. In addition, we do a lot of health screenings and that’s usually done after hours. I’m most excited about Adopt-A-Family.
What made you decide to purchase a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek?
I’ve always wanted a Subaru and I don’t make rash decisions. My last car was 12 years old. Getting a new car was a back priority, but I finally decided it was time.
Subaru gave me everything I needed for the amount I wanted to invest in it. I have all-wheel drive and heated seats. I just like the way that it handles. It’s great on gas and it’s really comfortable. I just feel really good driving it; I feel like a teenager.
How has your Subaru made your life easier?
I haven’t taken it on any long trips, but I have a 21-year-old son, Joe, and he drives my old car now. He’s a typical 21-year-old, but I feel very safe when he drives [my Subaru Crosstrek]. I don’t get nervous. I feel much better with him driving my car.
Has there been a moment where your career in healthcare and being an owner of a Subaru has intersected?
Oh, absolutely! Have you seen all the snow we had? The old car I had was a foot off the ground. And this is crossover-SUV-style car and I’ve had no problems getting to work at all. I live about 15 minutes away from work, which isn’t far at all, but it’s all back roads and they’re always plowed last. I don’t have trouble getting out of the driveway. One time, I made it to work and there were only four other people here.
What challenges do you face in your position and how do you combat them?
I think the biggest obstacle is time. There never seems to be enough time in the day. As a result, time management is key. I’m really trying to be good at that. I come in, usually, at 8am and we greet people at the front desk where we do insurance verification and help them with pharmacy refills.
We take in hundreds of phone calls every day. That’s what I’m assigned do right now. We do everything from A to Z: scheduling appointments making sure patients have the right medication. Sometimes, it’s a lot of detective work, but we want to give them reassurance. They might have a thyroid tumor, heart problems. It’s just about being compassionate and loving.
Do you have a favorite part of your workday? If so, why is it your favorite?
I think as a whole, just aiding the patient experience and helping them. It makes me a better person. So, I suppose I don’t have a favorite part of the day. Every day is different and there’s not one that’s better than the other or one that is worse.
What’s one thing readers might be surprised to learn about your position as Lead Patient Service Representation?
Previously, I worked as a registered medical assistant. I’ve worked on both sides. I prefer this because — it’s not hands-on per say — but I really feel like I help the patient. It’s being a kind person who is taking the extra step to make the whole experience better. If you come in and have a life-threatening medical issue occurring, you don’t want someone that is negative or unreceptive.
I draw something positive from every day — whether it’s from a complete stranger or one of my coworkers.
For more information about finding the right ride for you, visit Subaru, here.This is a paid partnership between Subaru and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio