At Avadyne Health’s 2017 Market Roundtable, Lisa Zovkic, Senior Change Management Specialist at University Hospitals (UH), Cleveland, Ohio, offered attendees a glimpse into UH’s forward-thinking Telepresence Concierge Program and a new look at building value around patient referrals.
Launched in 2015, The Telepresence Concierge Program was implemented to enhance revenue, improve the integration of primary care and specialty services and boost continuity of care. Zovkic highlighted the fact that the new program leverages technology, centers patient needs and helps build a connection with physicians new to the growing hospital system.
A New Approach to Patient Referrals
UH’s innovative program enhances the referral process via video technology. This approach allows patients, immediately after a visit, to connect with a highly-trained remote scheduler via video conference and then set up a referral appointment.
To design the program, UH sought out broad input ranging from physicians to the hospital system CEO. Schedulers were recruited for their technological knowledge, comfort on camera, ability to identify patient needs, familiarity with patient access and communication skills to facilitate in-person connections with the practices.
The program has proven to be successful, resulting in benefits ranging from increased referrals to positive employee feedback and patient satisfaction. According to Zovkic, the program continues to address ongoing challenges in patient access and yields positive results including:
- Reduced complexity for the patient
- Enhanced continuity of care since patients leave an office visit with a referral appointment in hand
- Increased patient empowerment thanks to an overall high-touch experience
Zovkic’s presentation provided deep insight into a modern and scalable approach to patient referrals. Here are some of the most notable points:
- Physician input is critical in developing a successful program that addresses patient access.
- Schedulers working in a face-to-face video environment require specialized levels of training.
- Remote scheduling is a key element in the future of patient access.
Perhaps most important, though, was the emphasis on people throughout the process — from patients to schedulers, to physicians, it was clear that human connection is a primary driver of the program.
Reactions and Key Points of Interest
Attendees showed intense interest in the program and offered up multiple questions to learn more, including:
- What options are patients given when creating their referrals with schedulers?
- How were physicians encouraged to take on this kind of change?
- How are traditional referral relationships impacted by this model?
- How are the schedulers housed in relation to the physician practices?
What options are patients given when creating their referrals with schedulers?
Attendees learned that the Telepresence Concierge Program is a refreshing change in the referral process and provides schedulers as a resource to patients, allowing them to select appointments based not only on caregiver of choice but also convenience.
How were physicians encouraged to take on this kind of change?
Interest from the discussion group piqued around how physician buy-in was earned. This led to an exchange around the value of a physician champion in the development of the program.
“Telepresence Concierge changed the game for physicians. We ensure that a scheduler is dedicated to their patients and we make sure that all their patients are scheduled properly,” said Zovkic.
How are traditional referral relationships impacted by this model?
The shift toward giving patients more choice in the referral process generated questions around how traditional referral patterns would be impacted. Discussion revealed that in other similar situations where patients were given more control as consumers, patient choice was heavily influenced by appointment availability.
How are the schedulers housed in relation to the physician practices?
Attendees were interested in schedulers’ physical locations and were pleased to find out they were housed in a centralized service center that allows for synergistic idea exchange.
It was generally and enthusiastically agreed that this model of remote and centralized scheduling could become the norm within the next five to ten years.
Avadyne Health’s Market Roundtable brings together healthcare industry leaders to share in open discussions around the Patient Financial Experience through discussion with other revenue cycle C-suite peers from around the country.
The 2-day event focuses on emerging trends, sharing new thoughts and facilitating conversations around the Patient Financial Experience. Attendee collaboration builds insight into opportunities and barriers within the revenue cycle and uncovers new and impactful ways of improving the present and designing the future of the Patient Financial Experience.