Grove Medical Associates, P.C., (GMA), is an internal medicine practice serving Worcester County in Massachusetts and is affiliated with the Central Massachusetts Independent Physicians Association (CMIPA). GMA serves a diverse patient population of over 6,500 people and the practices consists of:
- Four Board Certified Internal Medicine physicians
- Physician’s Assistant
- Certified Nutritionist
- Registered Nurses
- Medical Assistants
- Administrative Support Staff
Local Problem Identified
Grove Medical Associates, P.C. (GMA) traditionally relied on patients to contact the office directly when in need of assistance or to speak to a Physician Provider during business hours, with two full time telephone triage operators available to answer all calls. In 2005, GMA had nine telephone lines, which were often always busy. This caused great frustration on both the part of the patients and the telephone triage operators. Coupled with the Physician Providers only responding to messages two times a day (noontime and late afternoon), this caused patients to call back several times, overburdening the already busy telephone lines.
GMA needed a better way to communicate with their patients, a way that allowed patients to communicate outside the working business hours. GMA needed to decrease the stress on the telephones and needed to improve their patient communication satisfaction.
In early 2007, GMA added a secure web-based patient portal, allowing patients to contact the office for non-emergent requests (refill requests, referral requests, appointment requests and non-emergent questions for the staff or Physician Providers), as well as to allow patients to review their personal health records and lab results.
GMA established www.grovedoc.com to help the patient access important information regarding their health. The website includes links to patient education sites (such as “How to Interpret Your Bloodwork”, etc.), patient forms, frequently asked questions, hours of operation and general information about Physician Providers and the practice. The site houses the icon for GMA’s Patient Portal link.
Since their first patient portal was employed, GMA has migrated to new, mobile-focused solution through which patients can access their patient portal account securely and manage their family’s healthcare anytime, anywhere on their smart phone, iPad or tablet. GMA also added voice and text messaging as a way to communicate with their patients. Upon check-in the patient is routinely asked their preferred method of contact with our office (voice, SMS (text), e-mail or opts out of all practice communication choice). Their selection allows the automated system to contact them utilizing their preferred method. The automated reminder system sends voice, e-mail or text messaging.
The technical and process improvements made to their patient communication strategies drove GMA receving a 97.4/100 in Communication on Massachusetts Health Quality Partners’ 2013 Patient Experience Survey Report
Additionally, GMA has received numerous portal-submitted messages commenting on the ease of use of Patient Portal and rapid response time. Patients attest to loving the ability to access to the office at any hour of the day or night. One patient left the following testimonial to the improved patient/provider communication experience,. “I love this patient portal! It is perfect for Night Shift folk like me. And, I don't have to clog up your phone lines with drivel. This is the best idea since the automated attendant system.”