Each Job, Every Day: Patient Scheduling

To deliver a great patient experience, Gabby knows the smile on her face can make a difference for the patient on the line—even though they can’t see it.

Can you hear a smile? For Gabby Colston, the answer is yes.

Gabby has been helping patients schedule appointments with Fairview providers over the phone for nearly nine years. To deliver a great patient experience, she knows the smile on her face can make a difference for the patient on the line—even though they can’t see it.

“A smile can actually come through in your voice on the phone,” says Gabby. “A lot of times, when a patient calls, they’re in pain, but they can hear that we’re happy to help them.”

As the first contact many patients have with Fairview, Gabby and her colleagues strive to make a good impression. They happen to make a lot of them.

Surprising numbers

Our patient scheduling team helps patients make appointments at their primary care clinics and many of our specialty care providers. All told, the 30 employees on the team handle more than a half-million calls a year.

While many patients call in to make appointments themselves, other times the team calls patients to make a follow-up appointment at the request of a nurse or doctor. No matter the time of day, patients can always find someone to talk to.

“People are surprised that we pick up the phone 24 hours a day,” says Laura Lee, who answers calls from 3-11:30 p.m. “It’s rewarding to help patients solve their problems and make them feel like they’ve been taken care of.”

Beyond scheduling

Taking care of patients sometimes involves more than making an appointment.

“If we get a call from someone who isn’t sure they need an appointment, or has certain symptoms, we send them to the Fairview Nurse Advisors line,” Laura says. “If the nurse thinks they need an appointment, the nurse transfers them back to schedule it with us.”

Helping patients is what Laura and Gabby enjoy most about their jobs, even when it goes beyond scheduling appointments.

“Sometimes patients call and, after the appointment is scheduled, they just want to talk,” Gabby says. “I enjoy it. They usually realize how long we’ve been talking and apologize afterwards, but they appreciate the service we give them, and that makes me proud.”

Tips for easy appointment scheduling

  1. Have your information nearby. Being able to give schedulers your emergency contact information, insurance card numbers or doctor’s orders right away will decrease your time on the call.
  2. Have a pen and paper handy. You’ll be ready to write down details of your appointment as soon as it’s confirmed.
  3. Don’t call while you’re driving. Talking on the phone, finding your information and writing down your appointment are distractions. Focus on driving until you can give your full attention to making your appointment.
  4. Find a strong signal. Without the clearest cell phone signal, the personal details of your call can be hard to hear. To communicate accurately, call where you have a great signal, or use a landline if possible.

Need to make an appointment? You can make one any time of day by calling (855) 324-7843 or via MyChart.

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