HIGHLIGHTS | Customer Service During COVID-19
- Front desk staff at our UW Medicine primary care clinics are at the forefront of the patient experience.
- They provide customer service, manage scheduling and update medical records.
- During COVID-19, they’ve played a key role in helping patients access telehealth visits.
- Support from coworkers has helped them stay positive during the pandemic.
At UW Neighborhood Clinics, patient service representatives (PSRs) master the art of providing top-notch customer service while managing schedules and patient records.
“A ‘day in the life’ pre-COVID was pretty active,” says Amy Bourgeois, a PSR lead at UW Neighborhood Factoria Clinic. “We were physically seeing more than 170 patients per day, on top of managing patient telephone encounters, medical records, providers’ schedules and so forth.”
In addition to juggling their daily to-dos, PSRs are often the first point of contact for a patient, welcoming each person and providing them with any guidance and information they may need.
“I like being able to make healthcare less stressful for our patients,” says Allison Ilsley, a PSR lead at UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic. “I like being that first point of contact.”
Robyn Parker, a PSR at UW Neighborhood Kent-Des Moines Clinic, also enjoys being that first point of contact for patients.
“I love the people that I get to meet, especially the kids,” says Parker. “We have some of the sweetest kids and families that come into our clinic. It’s nice being able to create bonds with them.”
And, while many things have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, PSRs remain at the forefront of the patient experience — whether it be in person, over the phone or online.
Ramping up telehealth
Over the last few months, UW Medicine’s telehealth offerings have quickly grown. PSRs at UW Neighborhood Clinics have been instrumental in supporting this service by helping patients access their appointments via Zoom.
“During the first month of the outbreak, most of our visits were done via telemedicine to help us minimize possible exposure to COVID-19,” says Parker. “When scheduling appointments, we had to decide which appointments could and should be scheduled as telemedicine and who should come into clinic.”
The rapid rollout of telehealth offerings showed how our PSRs adapt to change.
“We had some growing pains because so many appointments went virtual all of a sudden,” says Ilsley. “But we’ve worked together really well to shift things and make sure all our patients get set up for their appointments.”
And, as more patients are seen in person, Parker explains how PSRs keep patients safe and informed.
“Now that we are transitioning back to seeing patients in clinic, PSR’s are responsible for rooming and masking every patient and guest,” says Parker.
While adapting to the ongoing changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Ilsley, Parker and Bourgeois have found a new sense of normal at work and home. And while the pandemic has undeniably caused stress and uncertainty, they take a moment to share some positive outcomes and offer up creative ways to de-stress when not on the job.
Looking on the bright side
Work can be stressful and exhausting at times, but all three PSRs have discovered the benefits of self-care, making sure to take time for their mental, emotional and physical health.
“I’m doing more self-care lately,” says Ilsley. “I’ll put on a facial mask and have a spa moment. I also have two small dogs at home, and we take nice walks. Little things like that make a difference.”
Bourgeois and her coworkers are making sure to prioritize their health and well-being at work.
“Our clinic has been focusing on self-care and mental health to help staff adjust to the crisis,” says Bourgeois.
While not on the job, Bourgeois and Parker spend time outdoors to unwind.
“I enjoy taking time to workout and go on walks when it is sunny,” says Parker. “It allows me to disconnect from my phone and everything else causing distractions from myself.”
“I’m by no means spectacular at it, but I’ve been focusing on our garden at home,” says Bourgeois. “Being outside always helps me de-stress and gardening gives me something to focus on to take my mind off work.”
Sounds like a breath of fresh air — and some healthy inspiration for how to de-stress and recharge.