Meet La Comunidad Hispana
La Comunidad Hispana is a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center serving over 6,300 unique patients annually. Located in Southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, La Comunidad Hispana’s roots began as a social service agency for vulnerable adults and families as Latino workers migrated to the area for jobs in the mushroom industry. Today, La Comunidad Hispana proudly offers primary care, women’s health, behavioral health, and dental services for those with and without insurance.
Currently, La Comunidad Hispana’s patient population is 89% Hispanic or Latino, with 48% of their patients falling below the poverty level. In addition, 54% of their patients are uninsured.
Inefficient Phone Workflows Yield Minimal Results
After earning a Level III designation as a Patient-Centered Medical Home from the National Committee on Quality Assurance in 2017, La Comunidad Hispana recognized that their manual population health outreach wasn’t yielding the results they had hoped for.
Staff and patients were dissatisfied with the inefficiency of office communication workflows, including their phone system. Medical assistants were frustrated, feeling like they were making phone calls and sending appointment reminder mailers to inform patients of necessary chronic and preventive care only to check off the boxes in the Patient-Centered Medical Home paperwork. After all that effort, they did not feel as though they were making a meaningful impact, and missed appointments were frequent.
Front office staff averaged 37 hours per month calling patients for appointment reminders with a capture rate of about 40%. When all that work failed to translate into better care for patients, they decided to try something new to reach their patients how and when they wanted to be reached, without exerting valuable staff time on manually calling each and every patient on the schedule.
Replacing Manual Efforts with Automation
In the spring of 2018, La Comunidad Hispana engaged Providertech to implement automated appointment reminders and population health campaigns leveraging text messaging. The goal was to reduce their volume of manual outbound calls so that their front office could be available to answer—and more appropriately route—incoming patient calls.
In addition, La Comunidad Hispana was hopeful that the automated appointment reminders would help them:
- Decrease unexpected no-shows
- Simplify communication for appointments
- Improve patient satisfaction related to the phone system
- Scale outreach at a lower cost
La Comunidad Hispana and Providertech collaboratively launched small pilots over a period of time in order to gradually operationalize the change. Using a prescriptive and planned approach to the rollout allowed the opportunity to proactively communicate with patients and staff about the automation. Throughout the pilots, they gathered regular feedback that helped to shape implementation.
First, they launched automated appointment reminders that offered the opportunity for patients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments via text message.
Previously, La Comunidad’s front office staff manually reached out to each and every patient to remind and confirm appointments prior to the patient’s arrival. This approach was as time-consuming as it sounds and wasn’t scalable across their patient population as they continued to grow.
Launching the technology proved to be the easiest part of the implementation, as Providertech seamlessly integrated into La Comunidad Hispana’s Centricity Practice Solution EHR. And, Providertech’s HIPAA-compliant and pre-built protocols enabled quick customization based on La Comunidad Hispana’s business needs. This allowed La Comunidad Hispana to customize how, when, and where automated appointment reminders were sent based on their patient’s preferences.
In addition, Providertech and La Comunidad Hispana launched various population health campaign pilots targeting a variety of groups, including those overdue for:
- Annual wellness visits
- Chronic care visits
- Women’s health checkups
- Dental care
Again, Providertech’s integration with Centricity Practice Solution allowed La Comunidad Hispana to easily set criteria to identify patients who were eligible for each campaign.
Messaging was customizable as well. Women’s wellness checkup outreach, for example, consisted of the following text message, targeting women ages 21-64 who live in Pennsylvania and had not been seen in the past 11 months:
“Our records indicate you are due for your annual Well Woman Check at LCH. You may even qualify for a free appointment. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx to schedule this appointment.”
As a result, La Comunidad Hispana’s care team scaled the number of patients they were able to reach while uncovering additional capacity for providers and staff to spend time doing more revenue-generating activities like meeting with patients or providing service recovery.
Improved Engagement, Productivity, and Outcomes
Nearly a year into implementation, La Comunidad Hispana has experienced significant results that signal a marked improvement in front office productivity, patient engagement, and population health outcomes.
By automating appointment reminders via text message, La Comunidad Hispana was able to reduce staff time previously spent manually confirming appointments by nearly 75%. Today, La Comunidad Hispana’s care team spends less than 10 minutes per month confirming appointments via phone.
Appointment no-shows also decreased, with some providers noting no-show rates dropping by up to 50%. Anecdotally, La Comunidad Hispana recognizes improved appointment adherence across the board with less “overbooking”, allowing their health centers to operate more efficiently and effectively. Day of appointment reminders to bring bottles of medication and blood sugar logs of diabetic patients have also been popular among providers.
Observing the benefit of less time on the phone, La Comunidad Hispana and Providertech continue expanding the scope of the pilots, adding population health outreach campaigns for patients due for colorectal cancer screenings, as well as reminders for patients with x-ray, ultrasound, or lab orders.
By replacing their manual appointment reminders with automation, La Comunidad’s care team is now empowered to monitor and manage workflows while freeing up time for high-value activities such as engaging with incoming calls, directing patients to the appropriate care that they need, and performing insurance eligibility verification vital to La Comunidad Hispana’s bottom line.
To learn more about how Providertech’s patient outreach software can help you scale your population health outreach without expanding your care team, schedule a demo with an expert today.