Expanding Call Center improves patient experience at USF Health

The USF Physicians Group is taking multiple steps toward improving the patient experience. One of the primary focuses is on bolstering its Call Center with more staff, technology and support to help them better field the thousands of calls coming in to the USFPG every day.

Some of the Call Center team that fields USF Physicians Group's 3,000-plus calls each day are, clockwise from lower left, Marissa Soto, Carol Schuster, patient access superviser Ola Wilson (standing), Rhia Bish, Ronetta Lewis, Amber Townsend, Alicia Taylor, Ragan Jennings, DeSean Platt, and David Style, with ______ (walking)

Some of the Call Center team that fields USF Physicians Group’s 3,000-plus calls each day are, clockwise from lower left, Marissa Soto, Carol Schuster, patient access superviser Ola Wilson (standing), Rhia Bish, Ronetta Lewis, Amber Townsend, Alicia Taylor, Ragan Jennings, DeSean Platt, and David Style, with Joyce Peterson (walking).

While there is more work to be done, these recent improvements are already having a positive impact on patient experience with shorter wait times, fewer transfers and faster answers, said Valerie Williams, RN, MBA, associate executive director of USF Physicians Group.

“We are committed to making it easy and convenient for patients to interact with us, whether by phone, in person, or through our patient portal” Williams said. “We want patients to be confident that we are easy to reach and will respond to their needs quickly.”

A record number of calls came through the USFPG earlier this month – more than 3,700 in one day – the most ever received. Even with such a dramatic increase, these early improvements produced impressive results with calls being answered in under one minute.

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Patty Rhodes, director of the Call Center, has seen tremendous growth in call volume in her 21 years with the USF Physicians Group.

Among the changes for the Call Center are:

  • The team will be relocated to the UPC on Fletcher Ave. The entire western side of the fourth floor as been renovated to provide ample space to hold the combined central and departmental agents, as well as accommodating additional growth of agents and clinical staff to support new services.
  • Coverage hours have expanded by 50% to provide our patients’ access outside of traditional hours.
  • Call agents will receive continued training to fine tune how they accept and route calls for all specialties.
  • There are now on-site clinical nurses in the Call Center to help resolve patient concerns related to symptom management, refills, test results, etc.
  • New functions in current technology will be used to create better workflows for the agents, further reducing patient wait times and offering patients various contact options, such as text and email. Patients will also be able to leave a voice message for follow up contact without losing their places in the call queue.
  • A more effective training and monitoring system is being developed to include staff training during agent on-boarding, active listening to calls providing real-time feedback on performance, and daily reporting that will monitor overall performance on key metrics such as volume, time-to-answer and abandonment rates.

Improving our patients’ experience is a top priority that includes improving how well we communicate with them and how accessible we are to them, Williams said. But these improvements are only a start.

“While we are making great progress, we are not yet satisfied,” she said. “There is more work to do.”

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.