Mills Peninsula audited and streamlined their workflow when they realized patients were getting confused by multiple follow up phone calls.
When we first started doing follow up calls, patients were confused and frustrated. “Who are you? Didn’t I just speak to someone from the hospital?” We realized that patients were receiving multiple follow up calls from different departments and all the calls began with “Hi, I’m calling from the hospital.” What made it even more frustrating for patients was that the people calling them often didn’t have the ability to help them or address the problem. So they’d ask the patients how they were feeling and if the patient had any concerns the caller would direct the patient to “Call your doctor about that.”
Mills Peninsula is a non-profit hospital in Burlingame, CA that has partnered with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Peninsula Family Services to develop the Peninsula Circle of Care program. The hospital has 241 beds and serves a primarily elderly population (average age of 81) living alone with 90% on Medicare. Peninsula Circle of Care, their transitions program, began in 2012 and is influenced by the Care Transitions Program and a community based model.
What We Tried
There was no central list of who all was making follow up calls, so we asked around on the floors (and asked patients) to see who was calling patients post-discharge. In total, 5 different groups were making calls. We then met with the leaders of the different groups and the patient relations team to figure out how to remove redundancies in these calls and make them more effective for both the hospital and the patients.
We reviewed the purpose of each call. Was it to improve patient satisfaction? Reduce readmissions? We also asked who was making the calls—a nurse? student? someone reading from a script? That determined which groups have the ability to actually assist the patient in case there were any medical or social concerns. In the end, we created a streamlined workflow that identified which group would be calling which patients for what purpose.
This new workflow has saved the hospital resources, made follow up calls more effective, and improved patient satisfaction. When we call patients now, they’re more willing to converse with us and we know that the people on the call can actually help them with any concerns they have.
This workflow has also increased staff satisfaction because they feel like their calls are making a bigger impact. Before, many patients would just dismiss their call right away, which became very frustrating for the callers.
We included our patient relations team in our meetings and they provided valuable input on general patient satisfaction and complaints.