Learn How To Partner With Providers on Your Online Scheduling Initiatives

By: Hannah Johnson on April 8th, 2021

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Building Consumer Relationships with Your Vaccine Rollout: A Conversation with Banner Health & Ochsner Lafayette General

Digital | Clients | Patient Experience | Patient Access | Patient Engagement | Online Scheduling | COVID-19

Last month, we invited Mike Dozier, VP Chief Information Officer at Ochsner Lafayette General, and Chris Castellano, VP of Customer Experience Channels at Banner Health, for a discussion on using the vaccine rollout to rebuild consumer relationships. During the discussion, they shared their rollout plans (e.g., processes, technology, and communication tactics) and what they’ve learned from vaccinating frontline staff. While both reflected on the progress their respective organizations have made in recent weeks, both agreed there is still work to be done to improve vaccine access.

To share their insights and help other organizations optimize their rollouts, we captured a portion of our conversation below. Continue reading to learn how the two leaders are evaluating new technologies, driving awareness for their vaccine visits, and using online scheduling to streamline the booking experience!


Q: It’s important to first understand your supply internally before creating demand. How are you getting your teams on the same page and disseminating information internally?

Chris: We have daily huddles with phone agents, leaders and the online scheduling team every morning to review changes, including the state’s distribution of vaccines, daily learnings, and discussion of the deployed online tools that support agents.

Mike: We do similar things here that Chris and her team do at Banner. We have morning and afternoon calls to discuss the ins and outs of what’s going on at the site. For both calls, we discuss the site, supply of vaccinations, what’s working well and what isn’t, and lastly, do we need to make any changes for tomorrow. 

 

Q: How have you leveraged your partnerships with the community to help distribute the vaccine?

Chris: We have partnered with states and counties to understand the vaccine supply and the distribution. We also have a vaccine oversight committee. It’s important for us to be there for our patients and our communities. We also consider and modify our content and channels as we learn to make sure we can help the underserved and diverse populations. It’s important to partner with others in our communities to make sure as many as possible can gain access to the vaccine when qualified. For example, we’ve worked with a community food bank, who provided transportation for seniors who frequently went to their organization for help. We helped them schedule appointments. So together we could ensure these seniors gained access to vaccines.

Mike: Our partnerships with the state and local government, allow us to provide different sites across our communities and populations. In order to get this information out to the public, we have partnered with local media agencies to promote these vaccination sites and make it known that they are open to all, not just patients of Ochsner Lafayette General. We also have a call center available, for those that are struggling to find an appointment.

 

Q: What have been some digital investments that you already had in place, that you built off of for scheduling COVID vaccines?

Chris: We had spent about two years prior to the pandemic investing in our Digital Front Door. So at the onset of the pandemic, we had quite a few digital capabilities already in place. We had a team in place who used creativity to repurpose and build upon these digital assets to create scale and agility quickly during the pandemic. In many instances, we didn’t have 6 months to create something, we had 6 days, so it was important to figure out what’s on our digital tool belt that we could use to do better. For example, we started taking advantage of and using the text messaging capabilities within our CRM.

We thought that offering self-service online scheduling would be the best way to make sure we had availability in our phone channel for those who did not have access to or experience with online tools. Our big strategic pivot, which I think will help us for life beyond COVID, is location-based scheduling in our online scheduling tool and how we repurposed what was set up already.

Mike: We’ve been working on our consumer strategies for the last few years and had most of the tools ready to go. We utilized the same digital tools we had, for the rollout of vaccines. The biggest investments we had to make was a landing page and figuring out how to hide certain things from the typical consumer. But overall, we had most of the digital tools in place and were pretty well prepared to meet the demand.

 

Q: What criteria have you used when investing in new technologies and solutions?

Chris: It has to be simple for our customers, patients, staff, and clinical teams to use and be able to integrate directly into our EHR. Mainly, we took what we already had and began using it on a deeper level. In other cases, we worked with the vendor for additional add-ons. For example, instead of putting registration forms online, we send patients a text right before their appointment, which helps cut down check-in times. This was functionally that existed in our technology but wasn’t being utilized prior to scheduling COVID vaccines. 

Mike: We want to keep it as simple and frictionless as possible. Ideally, it will integrate directly into the workflow that’s best for patients and staff to be most efficient. We use Cerner as our EMR, so that drives a lot of our integration strategy and decisions about the vendors we select, but not all of the time. If we do utilize something that stands alone, it has to be completely frictionless and simple for our patients to use.

 

Q: How do you feel that this has impacted what the online booking experience could be more broadly? Has this changed or reinforced your strategy as you thought about what opportunities for expansion could mean for your organizations?

Chris: Because we have all become better problem solvers and have new digital capabilities, we have the ability to move at quicker speeds, which opens doors for us. We’re already thinking about how we can use our learnings for life beyond the pandemic to make it better for our patients, customers, physicians, clinical teams, and employees. This has moved us farther faster and I think the team is energized and ready to use and repurpose it. Simply stated, as a Banner team we are diversified in our thoughts and skill sets but unified in our purpose of making health care easier so life can be better.

Mike: The whole thing reinforced the strategy we had in place for our consumers and patients. This escalated and let us ramp up very quickly what we thought would be a multi-year process of our consumers getting used to the technology, especially less tech-savvy ones, and we were all forced to participate overnight. And because of this, more people will be interested in the experience in the future.

To listen to the full conversation, access the recording here.