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News from Urology Austin President Craig Ortego – August 2023

Big Changes for a Better Patient Experience

Big changes have been underway at Urology Austin, and one of them is the exciting news that we have welcomed a new Chief Operating Officer. Daniel Huggins, MSHA, ACHE, LSSGB, is an experienced healthcare administrator with extensive knowledge in clinic management, practice optimization, team leadership, and strategic planning, among many other critical skills necessary to run an effective medical practice. We are delighted to have him on board, and I hope you will take a few minutes to get to know him by reading his introduction in this newsletter.

As COO, Daniel has stepped into a significant role in supporting our ongoing work to improve the patient experience at Urology Austin. If you’ve been reading this newsletter for the past few months, you’re aware that our entire team has been diligently working on critical process and technology improvements. Through good, smart, purposeful decisions for the well-being of patients, we’ve placed an especially intense focus on structural changes to support better patient communications.

For several months, we have been working with technology vendors and training our teams on new processes, with the goal of taking several new systems live this fall. As with any technology implementation involving third-party vendors and factors outside of our control, we’ve run into a few unexpected complications, but we’re doing our level best to not let those slow down our progress.

Here’s what you can expect to be fully operational in the coming months:

    1. A new, state-of-the-art phone system designed to handle high call volume. Our existing phone system has been in place for 14 years, and with the dramatic growth of our practice over that time, it can no longer keep pace with our high call volume. To efficiently handle the increase in the volume of calls we receive every day, we are implementing a new, highly advanced system that will enable a rapid response to your needs and questions.

    2. New call center software. While our current call center software is just six years old, we want to improve the patient experience beyond this software’s capabilities. The new software we are now implementing will make it easier to reach the right person and get what you need, with no more than a 24-hour turnaround time.

    3. Online self-scheduling. While we will always continue to support patients who prefer to speak to a scheduler when making an appointment, we recognize that in today’s internet age, the convenience of online scheduling is attractive for many people. Our new online scheduling tools will make it simple and quick to find an available appointment time with your UA specialist and reserve that spot just for you. You’ll receive immediate confirmation that your appointment is booked, as well as reminders through text or email as your appointment date moves closer. And, if you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, you’ll be able to do so easily without ever having to place a phone call.

    4. New patient portal education and communication resources. While we’ve offered access to important information through our patient portal for several years, we will soon offer portal functionality that will give you another convenient way to communicate with our team. Instant messaging capabilities will allow you to exchange written messages with your physicians and their staff members in a secure environment that protects your privacy. You’ll also be able to go back and read past written exchanges, so you can refer to communications about your medical history whenever needed.

    5. Dedicated clinician to respond to your needs. At our four largest locations – Radam Lane, Medical Park Tower, Jollyville, and Round Rock 1 – we have added a clinical staff member dedicated to responding to patient messages, questions and requests. Whether you reach out to those offices via phone, email or through patient portal messaging, you will receive a response with helpful assistance from a knowledgeable team member the same day.

    6. Clinical surgical navigator. We are currently recruiting an experienced clinical surgical navigator to guide patients through the surgery process. If you are scheduled for surgery, this full-time clinician will automatically be notified and will reach out to you to walk you through pre-operative education; answer your questions; and ensure that you know how to prepare, where to go, and what to expect on the day of surgery and during your recovery. After your surgery, the clinical surgical navigator will check back in with you by phone and assist you with any issues or questions. If you ever have any concerns at any point in the process, you will be able to call your surgery navigator directly for quick assistance.

Some of these new systems are ready to go, but because several of the systems are interconnected, a hiccup in one implementation has the potential to affect other systems. At the same time, we have intensively analyzed the human processes involved in patient communications and are now working to create new efficiencies in our team member response using the new systems.

While I do apologize that we may not hit our self-imposed September 1 deadline for launching every new system and process, we want to be sure that all these solutions are fully functional at launch. The last thing we want to do is launch a system prematurely and create additional frustration for you. We appreciate your patience as we take the time needed for system testing and quality assurance, as well as training of our team, including the new clinicians who will be dedicated to streamlining your patient experience with us.

As these new systems and processes come online this fall, we will continue to tweak them to best serve you. Your feedback during the launch phase will be vital to our ongoing improvement efforts. We will address any issues within 30 to 60 days post-launch, with a goal of having all new services matured and fully operational before the holidays.

Thank you for entrusting us with your medical care, and as always, I welcome your feedback. Please submit your messages to me here.

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