VA North Texas Health Care System
Better results when calling Fort Worth VA
VA North Texas Health Care System has many tracking methods to determine efficiency and to see if goals are being met. Ultimately, this data collection and review helps us provide the best possible care to our Veterans. With all the data collected to ensure the best use of staff, customer-friendly service and yes, the almighty dollar – it’s important to keep focused on the bottom line. The bottom line at VA North Texas is doing our best to ensure every patient has a positive health care experience and outcome.
And when it was discovered that Veterans were having difficulty contacting Fort Worth VA Outpatient Clinic, the systems redesign team sprang into action to identify the challenges and find a solution.
With the growth in the number of Veterans using the Fort Worth Clinic and the associated call volume increase, peak times could mean that up to 24 percent of Veteran callers were hanging up before staff could answer, which in some cases was taking almost three minutes. When Veterans couldn’t get through to the clinic by phone, their next option was to come for an unscheduled visit which could result in a longer wait.
Here’s what we did to fix the problem:
- Staff levels in the call center were adjusted which decreased patient frustration and improved clinic flow.
- Other ways to improve the center were identified, including its work space. Barriers were reconfigured that prevented operators from seeing each other and additional computer screens were installed that allowed operators to see calls waiting to be answered in the queue.
- New wireless headsets also helped operators function more efficiently.
- The team also looked at the automated message and determined the services most requested by callers. Several options were clarified or removed which shortened the message and time spent on the phone.
These simple and inexpensive fixes yielded immediate results.
So, what does the data reflect after all the changes to the TeleCall Center? While we were hoping for an initial improvement to 10 percent of callers hanging up before speaking to a clinic staff, the results were even better. Currently, callers to Fort Worth VA hang up only 3 percent of the time.
These great results are facilitated by daily huddle boards in the TeleCall Center that keeps operators aware of challenges that may interrupt the process. The huddle boards identify barriers to complete work and empower staff to resolve the issue.
Our goal is to sustain effective management of calls coming into the clinic.
Thanks to data collection, creative minds and teamwork, these significant but simple changes have positively impacted our Veterans and improved their access to VA care.