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How MD Anderson Empowers Patients from the First Virtual Contact

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Alicia Jansen

Alicia Jansen, MD Anderson Cancer Center

[SHSMD13 Podcast Series] Awhile back, the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center recognized that it had a patient experience problem at their front door. Associate Vice President of Marketing Alicia Jansen explains it this way:

“One of the things that we noticed early on was that the biggest sticking point that our patients had in interacting with us for the very first appointment…was getting that very first appointment.”

In today’s podcast interview, Alicia talks with Healthcare Success Co-Founder Lonnie Hirsch about how an MD Anderson Cancer Center team set about to streamline the organization’s complex—potentially overwhelming—registration process.

In a joint effort by leaders from marketing, operations, clinical care and IT, the solution, called PreCare, is not in place. It is an Internet based portal that empowers patients during their early contact.

Alicia talks with Lonnie about how patients—who wanted to arrange an initial appointment—experienced feelings of uncertainty and lack of control. Further, that patients were frustrated in that much of the process was done over the phone.

In this installment of our hospital leadership podcast series, Alicia provides a preview of her upcoming SHSMD Connections 2013 presentation with Megan Chavez of Tower Strategies, titled: Engaging and Empowering Patients from the First Virtual Contact.

The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development conference of the American Hospital Association will be held September 29 – October 2, in Chicago

Alicia revealed that an initial phone call with patients could take 30 to 45 minutes. And if additional information was needed, “phone tag ensued.” That’s frustrating to the patient and it slows down the process of making the first appointment.

“In developing an online alternative to answer these issues, we wanted PreCare to be user friendly, with clear information and instructions, for patients to know what to expect, and for them to have a step-by-step process that it would not be complicated.”

An objective of PreCare was to introduce a way to get to the patient quickly, and that made the patient less anxious, research revealed. Typically, the patient’s issues are:

  • I want to know where I am in the process;
  • I want to understand what you need from me (and how to get it to you); and,
  • If I have any questions, I want to know that I can get answers quickly.

In addition to creating a system that more efficiently served the customer, the development and launch of the innovative PreCare portal had an additional benefit in organizational collaboration. Members of the group—marketing, operations, clinical staff and IT—worked together to solve a common problem.

In this podcast interview, Alicia also describes how the team earned a better understanding of the patient and caregiver perspectives. She elaborates on development process steps, how they interpreted these needs through programming, anticipating and responding to patient expectations, and ultimately, turning it into a portal format.

Listen to our podcast!

RELATED: Previous installments in this educational series are available on this page of interview/podcast posts from Healthcare Success.

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If you are attending the SHSMD conference in Chicago, be sure to sit in on Alicia and Megan’s presentation.  Also, if you are attending SHSMD, please stop by our Healthcare Success booth #202 on the exhibit floor.

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