April 15, 2019

Texas Children’s MyChart has an electronic waitlist that automatically texts and emails families when appointments become available sooner. Over 2,100 patients have accepted an appointment an average 45 days earlier than their previously scheduled appointment.

Since implementing the electronic waitlist on MyChart in 2018, we’ve received positive feedback from our patients and families about the convenience of this new tool.

“My son’s original appointment was scheduled for September 4, but when I got an electronic notice via MyChart asking me if I wanted to accept an appointment in June, I accepted it,” said Monica Blancas. “While we usually go to the medical center for appointments, I didn’t mind driving a little further for my son’s appointment in Katy if it meant that I could get him in to see a doctor a lot sooner than scheduled.”

Click here for more information on how to opt in to receive New Wait List Offer text messages.

About Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative

Launched in August 2017, Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative is an on-going, collaborative effort to improve patient access across the organization. Since then, Texas Children’s has made significant progress to ensure patients easily and conveniently get in the door so we can provide the care they need, when they need it.

Click here for a list of other tools and features we’ve implemented across the system to improve access, care coordination and patient experience at Texas Children’s.

April 9, 2019

As part of Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative, Texas Children’s MyChart now offers direct scheduling that allows current patients to quickly and easily schedule their appointments online.

Once patients log in to their MyChart accounts, they can schedule an appointment with their provider by clicking on the “schedule an appointment” button and following the prompts and instructions.

Since implementing the MyChart direct scheduling option, more than 5,500 appointments have been made and patient families describe the process as “simple and convenient.”

“I was surprised that Texas Children’s had this option,” wrote a Texas Children’s family. “It was very convenient and the scheduling process was very simple and streamlined.”

Click here for more information on how to schedule and cancel appointments online via MyChart.

About Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative

Launched in August 2017, Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative is an on-going, collaborative effort to improve patient access across the organization. Since then, Texas Children’s has made significant progress to ensure patients easily and conveniently get in the door so we can provide the care they need, when they need it.

Click here for a list of other tools and features we’ve implemented across the system to improve access, care coordination and patient experience at Texas Children’s.

April 2, 2019

Texas Children’s Corporate Communications team will launch a special “Did you Know” series on Connect this month called, “Opening the Door: Patient Access at Texas Children’s.

While several stories have been featured on Connect spotlighting our patient access efforts, this new series will deliver small doses of information that employees can easily remember and keep top of mind.

The series will begin on Tuesday, April 9. Each week, a patient access tool the organization has implemented over the past year will be featured and will link to additional information. The series will also be incorporated on our screensaver rotations.

The “Did You Know” series will include a link to a page on texaschildrensnews.org highlighting other resource tools to improve access, care coordination and patient experience at Texas Children’s.

About Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative

Launched in August 2017, Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative is part of an ongoing, collaborative effort to improve patient access across the organization. Since this initiative began, Texas Children’s has made significant progress to ensure patients get into our system according to their urgency and timeline.

In the last year, the Patient Access team has made several MyChart enhancements – online scheduling and an automatic electronic waitlist – as well as direct scheduling via DocASAP that have benefited patient families. In addition, a new pilot program was launched to test the concept of space sharing in our specialty clinics in Wallace Tower that has optimized clinic and exam space, making it easier for patients to access our services.

Connect articles:
Texas Children’s implements first wave of solutions to enhance patient access
MyChart Madness: Scoring points for patient access system wide
MyChart Madness results in, enhancements continue to improve patient access
Patient access initiative continues to generate positive results for patient families
MyChart Shoot for the Stars Challenge: Scoring points for patient access
Texas Children’s rolls out Patient Access 2.0, online scheduling launches
Patient Access 2.0 initiative generates positive results among patient families
Texas Children’s MyChart now available in Spanish for patients, staff
Spotlight Video: Texas Children’s Patient Access Journey and Recent Accomplishments

March 18, 2019

 

As part of Texas Children’s Care Coordination Initiative – and in an effort to ensure better care and communication between providers and their patients – MyChart is now available in Spanish.

“By having our patient portal available in Spanish, we want to ensure that we are providing information to families in a language they understand,” said Dr. Heidi Schwarzwald, executive sponsor of MyChart Spanish and Chief Medical Officer Pediatrics of Texas Children’s Health Plan. “Patients and providers can now use the same great functionality in MyChart to transmit messages and health information faster and more efficiently in whichever language our patient families are most comfortable with.”

Before or after patients log on to MyChart at mychart.texaschildrens.org, they can click on the “En Español” button and the MyChart patient portal switches to Spanish. From there, patient families can obtain their after visit summaries and immunization records electronically, reducing phone calls and delays. They can also request medication refills and other services. All of the main features from MyChart English are now in Spanish except for certain titles or sections, such as medication names.

Within MyChart, patient and families can also send and receive open messages. Care team members have three tools to translate Spanish messages from MyChart. Messages can be translated by Spanish-speaking staff who have been validated by Language Services or through a translation software, Systran. Staff can also send MyChart messages for translation to the Language Services team via Epic Inbasket. Each clinic has established their workflow on who and how incoming messages will be translated and can then respond to the concern or request using the current workflow for English messages.

“While over 60 percent of Texas Children’s patients use MyChart, only 27 percent of Spanish-speaking patients had accessed the MyChart patient portal which meant providers had to use different modalities to contact these families,” Schwarzwald said. “Now with the launch of MyChart Spanish, we hope this new communication tool will encourage more Spanish-speaking families to engage with us via MyChart.”

From Texas Children’s operations teams that provided the guidance for needed features to the technical teams that helped implement the new functionality to the Language Services department that provided translations for content, the MyChart Spanish rollout has been a huge team effort across the board.

Language Services provided all of the content and document translations that populated the server files for the Spanish MyChart implementation. This included everything from minor phrases and alert messages to full multi-page, terms of service and important FAQ translations. All of the patient-facing files and content needed to be translated and included in the Spanish MyChart build on the web servers.

“We provided knowledge and expertise to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the translation software and we’ve been working to create and build the software’s dictionary, which establishes the benchmark for accurate translation,” said Alma Sanchez, manager of Language Services. “Our team will continue to enhance the dictionary and translation memory to enable quick and complete responses to our patients.”

The soft launch of MyChart Spanish will give staff the opportunity to test the system and workflow processes before actively marketing this new service to our Spanish-speaking patients and families.

“We’re excited to roll out MyChart Spanish for our multilingual patients, families and staff that interact with Texas Children’s for their patient experiences,” said Colleen Julien, Epic Patient Engagement manager for Texas Children’s Information Services. “We are appreciative of the Care Coordination initiative and Dr. Schwarzwald’s leadership. This project has been on our road map for many years and the project took off when Care Coordination made it an operational priority to offer MyChart in Spanish.”

Click here to read the MyChart Spanish FAQs. For more information about MyChart, visit texaschildrens.org/mychart.

January 22, 2019

Since the launch of Patient Access 2.0 Initiative in October 2018, Texas Children’s already has received positive feedback from patient families who describe online scheduling as “simple and convenient.”

“I was surprised that Texas Children’s had this option,” wrote a Texas Children’s family. “It was very convenient and the scheduling process was very easy and streamlined.” Another patient family wrote, “I found the online scheduling button on my child’s physician’s profile page, which I love and appreciated.”

During the first wave of implementation in November, eight specialties went live with online scheduling. The online scheduling option, offered in both English and Spanish, allows current patients, new patients and referred patients to schedule appointments via DocASAP, Texas Children’s online scheduling partner. Patients and their families can also use this new online tool to schedule clinical appointments in Austin.

Patients can access the online scheduling button on Texas Children’s homepage. Once this button is clicked from the homepage, patients land on the new texaschildrens.org/appointment page and can view all scheduling options available. Patients can also access online scheduling directly from provider profiles and department pages, where the scheduling tool appears to schedule a visit with a provider.

On January 23, 11 more specialties – Adolescent Sports Medicine, Centers for Women and Children Women’s Services, Genetics, Infectious diseases, Nephrology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Retrovirology, Rheumatology and Orthopedics – went live with this new online feature.

The third wave of online scheduling will go live in March 2019. Once implemented, a total of 30 specialties will be offering this online scheduling option to their patients across the hospital system.

To date, 220 patients have already used DocASAP to schedule their appointments.

Space utilization initiative improves patient access, volume

A major contributor to patient access is the ability to use space within the Texas Children’s system effectively by identifying when and where space is available to optimize patient throughput.

In September 2018, Texas Children’s Space Utilization Initiative and Transition Experience (SUITE) Team tested the concept of space sharing on floors 8 and 9 in Mark Wallace Tower over a 3-month period. The purpose of this initiative was to identify any underutilized or vacant space and determine if another clinic can temporarily “touchdown” in the vacant space to see patients coming in for a clinical appointment.

The team found that provider absences whether it be PTO, conferences and inpatient service rounds equated to 10 to 20 percent of exam rooms being open at any given time. Transparency around when and where these openings occur allowed other providers to request and use the rooms for clinic sessions with their patients. Of the 103 four-hour clinic sessions requested in our first pilot, 43 sessions were accommodated.

“Partnering with the Financial Services team, we estimate an overwhelming opportunity to accommodate an additional 17,000 to 35,000 clinic visits in Wallace Tower alone, with potential to generate over $4.9M in additional margin for Texas Children’s,” said Brian Cordasco, lead for the SUITE team.

On January 14, the SUITE team launched a second pilot on floors 11, 16, and 17 in Wallace Tower that will span a period of three months to identify any opportunities for space sharing across these clinics.

The long-term goal is to apply the lessons learned from these pilots and implement a larger solution, which will include an IS portal to quickly identify space availability across the entire hospital system.

In the short time since the space testing initiative began, clinic staff have already noticed a difference.

“We appreciate this project as it has helped our clinic easily identify where and when space is available,” said Orthopedics Practice Administrator Laurie Roy. “We now have a process to quickly approve or decline requests which saves time.”

Other patient access improvements

Texas Children’s patients and their families continue to benefit from the hospital’s patient access improvements that were implemented last fiscal year. Below is an update on where we are today:

Standard clinic sessions: After evaluating 944 provider templates, additional slots were found where physicians could see patients for a duration of four hours. By standardizing clinic sessions for all specialties, 53,000 new appointments were added to the system that had not existed before.

MyChart (online patient portal) activation: Since launching the MyChart Challenge to engage teams around the patient access initiative, Texas Children’s has seen an increase in the number of patients signing up for MyChart. In Oct. 2017, the organization had less than 8,000 monthly activations compared to over 18,000 in March. To date, Texas Children’s has a total of 72,006 same-day MyChart activations.

MyChart and DocASAP direct scheduling: More than 2,000 patients have already used this MyChart feature to schedule their return appointments. In FY18, more than 20 specialties have gone live with online scheduling for MyChart users making the scheduling process easier for over 3,330 patients. To date, more than 200 appointments have been made via DocASAP.

Electronic Waitlist: Since implementing this feature on MyChart that automatically offers up available appointments via text or email to patients desiring a sooner appointment, approximately 1,000 patients have accepted an appointment on average 55 days earlier than their prior appointment.

Referrals: Referral processes were also streamlined which eliminated the 60 different referral processes that previously existed across the system, thus making scheduling visits easier. The hospital has seen a 74 percent increase in captured referrals since June 2018 with central transcription team in place.

November 13, 2018

From our three hospital campuses to our health centers, urgent care and pediatric practices, Texas Children’s continues to make great strides in improving access to our patients and their families.

As part of Patient Access 2.0, Texas Children’s launched online scheduling in both English and Spanish on November 12 that allows current patients, new patients and referred patients to schedule appointments via DocASAP, Texas Children’s online scheduling partner. Texas Children’s is the only hospital of the top five on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll to offer online scheduling to patients.

“Since most families prefer online scheduling, it is important for us to pay attention to their needs and do more to help them out,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier and co-chair of the Access Executive Steering Committee. “Because we really care about our families, we have to keep the doors open to our patients to ensure they get the right care, at the right time and at the right place.”

Led by Project Manager Sarah Ringold, Co-chairs Ryan Breaux, Diesa Samp, Jodi Harris and Executive Sponsor Michele Birsinger, online scheduling will be implemented in waves:

  • Wave 1 (November 2018): Allergy/Immunology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Endocrine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery, Pulmonology and Urology
  • Wave 2 (January 2019): Adolescent Sports Medicine, Centers for Women and Children Women’s Services, Genetics, Infectious diseases, Nephrology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Retrovirology, Rheumatology and Orthopedics
  • Wave 3 (March 2019): Centers for Women and Children Pediatrics, Gynecologic Oncology, Physical Medicine and Rehab, Psychiatry, Psychology, Reproductive Endo/Infertility, Urologic Gynecology and Women’s Psychiatry

Texas Children’s patients can access the online scheduling button on Texas Children’s homepage. Once the button is clicked from the homepage, patients land on the new texaschildrens.org/appointment page and can view all scheduling options available: online scheduling, MyChart or calling the Customer Contact Care Center. Patients can also access online scheduling directly from provider profiles and department pages. From there, a scheduling widget will appear where patients and their families can schedule appointments online with a provider.

“Our patient families expect to be able to do so much online today, and it only makes sense that we offer them this capability as well,” said Ringold, who is also a practice administrator in Urology. “This new scheduling tool will also be beneficial to our providers as online scheduling typically results in better template utilization and reduced no show and cancellation rates.”

This project would not have been possible without the collaboration from multiple departments including Information Services, Marketing, Patient Experience, Central Scheduling, Revenue Cycle and HIM. Practice administrators, ambulatory directors and community leaders also devoted time, energy and expertise in this project.

“We have accomplished so much in a relatively short period of time through these collaborative efforts,” said Senior Vice President and Patient Access Leader Richelle Fleischer. “It has been exciting to see this project go from an initial request for proposal to actual implementation. It truly was a team effort.”

In addition to the online scheduling option via DocASAP, patients who sign up for MyChart can schedule their appointments through the MyChart online patient portal. Since implementing direct scheduling via MyChart in March of this year, over 2,000 appointments have been made across the hospital system.

Click here to access the FAQ for online scheduling via DocASAP.

Patient Access Initiative

Since the March 2018 launch of the Patient Access initiative, Texas Children’s has implemented several solutions to improve patient access across the organization. Click here to watch this video.

Below is an archive of recent Connect stories highlighting our patient access initiatives:

Texas Children’s implements first wave of solutions to enhance patient access
MyChart Madness: Scoring points for patient access system wide
MyChart Madness results in, enhancements continue to improve patient access
Patient access initiative continues to generate positive results for patient families
MyChart Shoot for the Stars Challenge: Scoring points for patient access