This large west coast academic medical center is among the most comprehensive and advanced health systems in the world. It is ranked number one in California and number four in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The medical center includes a radiology department staffed with dedicated subspecialty radiologists, specialized nursing, technical staff, physician trainees, and talented managers who provide exemplary care to their patients at the demanding service levels expected by the community. At its outpatient centers, the health system offers CT, US, MRI, X-Ray, Interventional Radiology procedures, and consultation services.
For more than a decade, this renowned radiology department has partnered with Stericycle Communication Solutions to handle inbound and outbound scheduling for the group’s diagnostic radiology practice across 25 locations. “We rely on Stericycle to handle approximately 2,000 scheduling calls per day,” says the center’s Director of Clinical Operations.
During the pandemic, the radiology department needed to quickly free up front desk staff to focus on more complex patient interactions as well as cancel and later reschedule thousands of appointments. The department turned to Stericycle Communication Solutions and its Health & Wellness Campaigns, which utilize medical call center services to answer patient questions and target patient outreach.
Part of the inbound scheduling calls that Stericycle handles for the radiology department are in support of the group’s imaging and interventional centers. These centers operate as independent, diagnostic testing facilities and maintain their own front desks and clinic space.
Increasingly, the front desk staff faced greater challenges in handling the volume of incoming calls, while managing front desk activities and in-person patient check-in. “Our staff manning the front desk found it increasingly difficult to maintain the quality of service that we aim for, whether that is answering the phone within 30 seconds or promptly helping patients in-person at the facility,” says the Clinical Operations Director.
To provide relief for its front desk staff at its independent diagnostic testing facilities, the radiology department turned to Stericycle to handle all incoming calls at a pilot location, not just those for scheduling.
Stericycle not only received all incoming calls for the pilot location but handled most of them as well. This included patient needs and questions that the front desk staff previously handled, such as giving directions, transferring calls to the appropriate staff, providing hours of operation, and more.
When the pandemic hit, the medical center faced the same situation most other healthcare organizations were confronting across the country. Putting patient safety first meant making difficult decisions about when and how it would be appropriate to perform non-critical or routine care such as diagnostic screening.
The radiology team decided to put already scheduled screening studies on hold for several months. “With COVID, we had to make some quick decisions,” says the Clinical Operations Director. “Once we decided to postpone screenings, we needed to swiftly identify and contact our affected patient population.”
Naturally, leadership turned to Stericycle for help in executing their pandemic plan, using Stericycle Health & Wellness Campaigns solution to quickly communicate with patients about postponing their appointments. To retain revenue and maintain patient care, the campaign also included plans to reschedule all appointments as soon as it was safe to do so.
Working together with the radiology leadership team, Stericycle began an outbound call campaign to 3,284 patients who were scheduled for a screening such as a mammogram. This initial outreach was to convey concern for patient safety and cancel scheduled screening appointments for the following 10 weeks.
Within two and a half months, the radiology clinics started to safely reopen for screenings. Stericycle then began making outbound calls to reschedule those patients from the initial outreach whose appointments had been cancelled due to the pandemic.
After piloting the incoming call program at one of its independent centers for 10 months, front desk staff now have more time to manage in-person and more complex caller issues. Patient feedback and satisfaction with the front desk experience have improved as well. With the pilot a success, the medical center is now planning to roll out the program to its other independent imaging centers.
The outbound Health & Wellness Campaign was also a success, with Stericycle rescheduling 3,284 patients for screening, with 2,082 keeping their appointments within six months. “Not only was Stericycle able to flex their scheduling resources to help us meet our goals for keeping patients in our system and continuing their care, but with Stericycle’s help we were able to get patients rescheduled without impacting our quality goals for handling inbound calls,” says the center’s Clinical Operations Director.
Based on the success of the outbound effort, the radiology department’s leadership is preparing to launch a new program with Stericycle that proactively reaches out to patients who have referrals for an MRI or CT scan. “To reduce leakage and maintain continuity of care, Stericycle will be proactively calling patients with orders in our system that are seven days old or older but who have not yet scheduled an appointment,” says the Clinical Operations Director, who credits the partnership with Stericycle for helping him and his team achieve the level of quality in patient interactions that the radiology department strives to meet.
For more than 60 years, this west coast academic medical center has provided the best in healthcare and the latest in medical technology to care for the needs of patients locally and throughout the world.
Their physicians are world leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of complex illnesses, and their hospitals are consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. At the cutting edge of biomedical research, their doctors and scientists are pioneering work across an astounding range of disciplines, from organ transplantation and cardiac surgery to neurosurgery and cancer treatment, and bringing the latest discoveries to virtually every field of medicine.
Stericycle offers the most comprehensive patient engagement platform in the industry. We are the only provider that seamlessly combines both voice and digital channels to provide the modern experience healthcare consumers want while solving complex challenges to patient access, action, and adherence.