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A Federally Qualified Health Center Scales Patient Outreach While Decreasing Time on Phone by 75%

The Client

Name: La Comunidad Hispana
Specialties: Primary Care, Women’s Health, Behavioral Health, Dental Services

The Goal

Reduce the volume of manual outbound calls so that front office could be available to answer, and more appropriately, route incoming calls.

The Result

Reduced staff time previously spent manually confirming appointments by nearly 75%

The Challenge

Born out of a need to care for migrant workers in the 1970’s, La Comunidad Hispana is a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center serving over 6,300 unique patients annually. 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.

Over the past 40 years, La Comunidad Hispana’s service offerings have evolved to include primary care, women’s health, behavioral health, and dental services, but their commitment to providing quality care and social resources for all remains the same.

Today, La Comunidad Hispana proudly offers integrated, diverse, and bilingual care for those with and without insurance in Southern Chester County. Having doubled in size in the past five years, La Comunidad Hispana continues expanding their reach as they strive to help the community achieve good health and well-being.

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 mailers to remind 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.

Front office staff averaged 37 hours per month making appointment reminder phone calls 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 spending valuable staff time.

A fellow healthcare professional at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium recommended Providertech as a potential solution for automating population health outreach and appointment reminders. La Comunidad Hispana viewed Providertech’s bidirectional Electronic Health Record (EHR) integrations as a great advantage against other third-party solutions, and their deep experience with population health initiatives set them above the competition.

Front office staff averaged 37 hours per month making appointment reminder phone calls 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.

Solutions Implemented

The Solution

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.

While La Comunidad Hispana had a few reservations about whether or not their patients would like the change, they knew that their patients were already frustrated with their phone system. In fact, on patient surveys, patients consistently ranked La Comunidad Hispana lowest in answering and returning phone calls.

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. In addition, Providertech’s HIPAA-compliant and pre-built protocols enabled quick customization based on La Comunidad Hispana’s business needs.

Far more difficult than the technical implementation was evolving the organization’s cultural perspective on population health and operationalizing the change. La Comunidad Hispana appreciated Providertech’s clinical expertise, best practices, and hands-on approach as they worked side-by- side to address these challenges.

 

To do so, La Comunidad Hispana and Providertech collaboratively launched small pilots incrementally over a period of time. First, they launched automated appointment reminders that offered the opportunity for patients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments via text message.

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

La Comunidad Hispana used a prescriptive and planned approach to the rollout which allowed the opportunity to proactively communicate with patients and staff about the change. Throughout the pilots, they gathered regular feedback that helped to shape the outreach campaigns noted above.

Far more difficult than the technical implementation was evolving the organization’s cultural perspective on population health and operationalizing the change. La Comunidad Hispana appreciated Providertech’s clinical expertise, best practices, and hands-on approach as they worked side-by-side to address these challenges.

75% decrease in staff time
confirming appointments

50% reduction
in no-show rates

82% appointment adherence
for women’s wellness

The Result

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%. This has freed up time for the front office to focus their attention on 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.

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 reminders to bring bottles of medication and blood sugar logs of diabetic patients have also been popular among providers.

La Comunidad Hispana and Providertech are encouraged by the positive feedback they’ve already received from patients who are notably more engaged with their care. For example, of the patients contacted less than two weeks ago to schedule women’s wellness checkups, 53 patients have already booked appointments. And of those whose scheduled date already occurred, 82% adhered to their appointment.

As La Comunidad Hispana and Providertech continue expanding the scope of the pilots in the coming months, they will also be adding more pilots, including population health outreach campaigns for patients due for colorectal cancer screenings, as well as reminders for patients with x-ray, ultrasound, or lab orders.

“Traditional, population health workflows are inadequate for value-based care,” says La Comunidad Hispana’s Director of Population Health, Amy Bastianelli, LCSW, MPH. “While getting patients to come into the office is important, there are so many other decisions they make on a daily basis outside of the office that influence their health. This is where population health management is going, and Providertech gets that.”

While getting patients to come into the office is important, there are so many other decisions they make on a daily basis outside of the office that influence their health. This is where population health management is going, and Providertech gets that.

75%

decrease in time spent confirming appointments

With Providertech’s help, we achieved a 75% decrease in time spent manually confirming appointments, helping us to more efficiently engage our patients using the resources we already had.

Amy Bastianelli |

Director of Population Health, La Communidad Hiispana

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