The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry is a worldwide leader in oral health education, clinical care and research that is patient-centered and evidence-based, with a foundation in preventive and public health sciences. As part of UIC and the UI Health system, UIC College of Dentistry is the largest dental school and dental care provider in the state of IL, as well as a top 20 oral science research institution. The college serves over 35 thousand patients annually and graduates over 230 DMD and post-graduate students each year.
The college’s patient on-boarding process was broken. Patients had trouble scheduling because of clinic capacity and limited personnel to answer phones. Brand reputation and employee morale was suffering. Clinical staff were overloaded with misdirected calls, faxes and voicemails.
Clinical teams needed a better way to manage an increasing volume of new patient demand, as the college’s awareness grew. And, there wasn’t an integrated system to automate the workflow and provide analytics across the patient journey in order to optimize the experience.
Everyone involved wanted to solve these problems but they didn’t know where to start. There wasn’t a clear path to finding the right solutions. Each departmental team was very aware of the problem from their own point of view, and each had a lot of their own ideas for how to fix the issues.
We introduced a ‘rapid design thinking’ approach to bring all of these perspectives together into a coherent picture of the overall problem, and harness the collective wisdom of the team to decide on the best solutions – as quickly as possible.
Insights and audit. We mapped the patient journey and collected employee feedback from interviews, surveys and reviews. We also conducted a time and task analysis with clinical personnel to quantify the problem drivers. Customer and employee pain-point discovery uncovered several negative impacts to the brand and business operations.
Design thinking ideation. We facilitated an ‘agile design thinking ‘ ideation workshop with clinical teams, which clarified the problem, related issues and constraints, and produced and prioritized solutions, using a people-focused approach.
Solution roadmap. We organized proposals into solution sets with considerations needed to make decisions on where to start. We then verified the problem areas and potential solution impacts combining qualitative data (patient and employee feedback) with quantitative data (EHR, website, phones, tasks cost-benefits analysis) to build a business case.
Solution implementation. We collaborated with clinical teams to implement a new online patient appointment scheduling form and workflow. Subsequently, we implemented a digital referral system that significantly reduced fax-based referral workload. This included new data inputs, KPI definition and dashboard to track usage and optimize performance over time.
Optimized conversion path through improved value proposition and persona-matched content.
Grew target patient acquisition 12X over 4 years (MQL)
CRM / email performance. Focused digital-first investment, test and learn approach.
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