How UC San Diego Health transformed patient access across its health system

When UC San Diego Health experienced rapid growth in demand for care following COVID, the health system needed a welcoming, seamless digital front door to improve patient access and agent satisfaction.

In a November Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Parlance and Tegria, three contact center experts discussed how UC San Diego Health put patient experience at the forefront of its access center, benefited from a targeted management consulting engagement, implemented an enterprise-wide phone number, and built a contact center with high employee satisfaction and low turnover.

Presenters were:

  • Kathrina Bidwell, operations director, Care Navigation Hub, UC San Diego Health
  • Scott D'Entremont, chief revenue officer, Parlance
  • Daniel Fleisher, managing director, Tegria

Four key takeaways were:

  1. Health systems must recognize the value of creating a truly seamless patient experience. According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, 7 of 10 consumers would change providers based on convenience alone, with 60 percent citing ease of scheduling as topping the list of important factors. "It's so critical to provide an easy access experience to patients because they have so many options in choosing care," Mr. Fleisher said.

  2. UC San Diego Health stepped up to the challenge by putting patient experience front and center in its new Care Navigation Hub. "We wanted to transform patient access across the system and create a seamless and beautiful digital front door for the institution," Ms. Bidwell said. "We took a leading role in helping our community during COVID, and as a result, we're seeing double-digit growth. That provides a lot of opportunities and challenges. One of those is just ensuring that we have an easy and simple way for patients to access us."

  3. UC San Diego Health partnered with Tegria to build a comprehensive patient access infrastructure. "Engaging a consulting partner can help you understand your current state, benchmark against the industry, measure where you are against best practices and create an overall strategy and roadmap," Mr. Fleisher said.

    During the first year, Tegria helped UC San Diego Health create its vision, test with a pilot program in gastroenterology and establish leadership and governance. Once the foundation was laid, the organization scaled to build a contact center designed to meet patient, provider, and employee needs.

  4. By establishing an enterprise-wide phone number with speech-powered self-service interface through Parlance, UC San Diego Health simplified patient access. A single phone number gives callers the ability to seamlessly reach the right departments in a large, complex, academic medicine institution, through self-service channels that allow people to ask questions naturally. "We leveraged that single number to give patients a wonderful experience," Ms. Bidwell said. "What amazed me the most was how quickly patients adopted the technology. They just asked for where they needed to go, whether that was Dr. Brown in cardiology or to schedule a primary care appointment."

  5. A frictionless contact center also delivers high employee satisfaction and low turnover. After implementing Parlance, UC San Diego Health reduced its call abandonment rate from double digits to under 2 percent and increased service levels to 85 percent. In addition, first call resolution hovers at the industry best practice of 80 percent. Instead of functioning as operators 20 percent of the time, agents are performing at the top of their skill set, working to assist patients in areas where they are trained to do so.

    "The best patient experience is getting those routine calls to exactly where they need to go," Mr. D'Entremont said. "And when people really need the help of a human being, those agents are easily accessible with the support they need for complex questions. It's not about having technology do the whole job; it's having technology do the right job at the right time."

By partnering with consultants and relying on proven technology, health systems can create a welcoming, seamless digital front door that leads to a frictionless contact center experience. This, in turn, results in satisfied patients and happier agents.

To register for upcoming webinars, click here.


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