The Office of Patient Access Central Call Center is pleased to report on recent enhancements of their automated notification systems for patients seeking specialty care. The enhancement is an automated text message that has improved communication between the Specialty Care Linkage (SCL) team and our patients. The use of specially tailored text messages has resulted in a reduction in the amount of time between the Specialty Reviewer’s (SR) recommendation for specialty visit via the eConsult platform and appointment scheduling.
eConsult is the LA Health Services specialty care electronic consultation platform, where healthcare providers initiate consultation and dialogue with specialists regarding a patient’s care. When the SR closes an eConsult as “Recommend Visit,” the SCL team begins patient outreach to schedule their appointments within the SR’s recommended timeframe. Thanks to recent improvements, patients now receive an SMS text notification within one (1) hour of SR closure of an eConsult and recommendation for specialty clinic visit. Depending on the patient demographic information recorded during registration, patients can choose to receive SMS text message notifications in English or Spanish.
Early evidence suggests that this improvement has significantly reduced the amount of time between SR’s closure of an eConsult as “Recommend Visit” and actual appointment scheduling, as patients are notified almost immediately of required action. Since recent changes were implemented, on average, specialty appointments are scheduled within 2-4 days of eConsult closure. One patient was pleased with the change: “I went to my doctor yesterday and got the text to schedule today!” A caller scheduling on her mother’s behalf remarked, “I’m so grateful we got a fast response from the doctor; my mother needs this appointment.”
The SCL team is optimistic about this data and anticipates more encouraging findings as we continue to track and implement improvements to our automated notification system. The Office of Patient Access encourages providers and clinic staff to offer automated text message notification to patients during Pre-Registration and clinic visits and to ensure that patient demographic fields reflect up-to-date contact information and the patient’s spoken language. As our patient satisfaction and findings suggest, small and precise gestures can immensely improve patient access to vital care.
For more information about our efforts to improve timely patient access to specialty care, email team leadership at SCLInquiry@DHS.LACounty.gov or call the Specialty Care Linkage program line at (855) 521-1718. The SCL team is managed by Myra Garcia, RN, BSN.