3 Keys to Tampa General Hospital’s Patient Experience Makeover

3 Keys to Tampa General Hospital’s Patient Experience Makeover. John Couris, CEO, Tampa General Hospital. "The first job to be done is getting every patient what they need, when they need it in a single interaction with the system, whether that is a phone call, text, email or asynchronous chat."

Tampa General Hospital’s leadership team has been thinking long and hard about how to elevate the patient experience and increase access.

CEO John Couris says his organization, which also includes the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine, came to the realization that ultimately they are in the care coordination business.

“The first job to be done is getting every patient what they need, when they need it in a single interaction with the system, whether that is a phone call, text, email or asynchronous chat. When that happens, quality goes up, costs go down and value for the consumer improves,” Couris says in a new AHA Market Scan Trailblazers report “Elevating Patient Access and the Consumer Experience.”

Making Experience a Core Value

The outgrowth of that realization is Tampa General’s enterprise-wide Experience Center, launched a little more than a year ago.

Scott Arnold, the system’s executive vice president and chief digital and innovation officer, describes the center’s purpose as the “unsexy work of getting access and scheduling as right as it can be.”

Bringing health care up to the service standards of other industries falls into three workstreams: people, processes and technology.

Prioritizing the consumer experience. Percentage of 144 health care provider executive who cited or agreed with the survey question. 68%: Digital and IT investments are increasing because or patient and/or provider feedback on enhancing patient/provider satisfaction and access. 57%: Improve consumer experiences are one of the top three ways my organization will benefit from digital and IT investments. Source: Guidehouse and HFMA, 2024.

The first and most important workstream is process, which Arnold notes was bogged down by artificial barriers and built-in friction. Disparate and disconnected technologies, variations in scheduling templates and decision trees, inefficiencies in internal communication tools, holes in access channels all made everyone’s jobs more difficult in providing consumers what they wanted at the moment.

Now, 13 months into the journey, Tampa General has:

  • Built the Experience Center, which provides centralized scheduling and referral management across 20 specialties (and growing).
  • Deployed more than 230 decision trees.
  • Rolled out updated templates for more than 750 providers in more than 20 medical specialties.
  • Reduced redundant visit types by 35%.

Upskilling Staff and Equipping Them for Success

These moves provided immediate relief to the Experience Center’s staff, who then had a wider aperture to see what individual consumers needed and how the staff could help.

With this wider view of the challenges it faced to improve experience and access, Tampa General started upskilling the center’s staff with new customer relationship management competencies and equipping them with new tools and technologies to enhance and speed their patient access work.

Today, the center’s staff, which Couris likens to personal health care sherpas, handle 30,000 calls per week with each response designed to lift the burden of navigating the health system from patients and their families.

Arnold says the system has seen a 75% increase in available appointments online, a 47% increase in appointments scheduled online and a 20% decrease in appointment no-show rates.

3 critical success factors for improving experience and access

1 | Be patient and support your staff.

Improving access is a dramatic change that takes time.

2 | Stay focused on your processes and information technology.

Take a hard look at your legacy processes and systems and give your teams the tools they need to bring significant, lasting change that your consumers will value.

3 | Involve both patients and front-line team members in the design of your new access initiative.

It sounds simple, but many times the users are left out of these discussions.

Learn More

Download the full Market Scan Trailblazers report to learn more about what can be done to improve patient access and elevate the patient experience. Also see how Yale New Haven Health and Yale Medicine’s Access 365 initiative is delivering world-class consumer connection experiences.

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