The futurologist John Naisbitt introduced the concept of “high tech and high touch” in his 1982 bestseller Megatrends. He maintained that in a world of technology, people long for personal, human contact. More than 30 years later, he has been proven to be prescient, especially in the technology-driven industry of healthcare. Jaclyn McDaniel, the director of the Texas Spine & Orthopedic Center, is well aware of this need for patients to receive high touch treatment.
“We’re trying to help patients feel connected,” McDaniel said. “This starts with our patient navigator. This is a person on our staff who is dedicated to each patient who comes through our system. Our navigator helps patients throughout their entire care process. From determining which doctor is most appropriate for their specific condition to understanding what their next steps are in their treatment process. We help with it all.
“Patients have told us that not knowing what’s going to happen next can be scary when it comes to healthcare. Often, the patient doesn’t feel like they know whom to ask. It can be a tremendous relief when a patient has someone who can hold their hand and say:
‘You know what, I’ve got you, I’m going to take care of you and get you to the right spot. I’m going to get you to the right doctor and help you schedule appointments. Plus, I’m going to call you afterwards and ensure you had a good experience.’
“It’s the little things like these that make healthcare more human. They help remove the fear that most people associate with medical procedures out of the equation.”
The DNA of a Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center Navigator: Customer Service
“Our navigators are customer service oriented,” McDaniel said. “They understand that EVERYTHING is their job. If a patient needs help, on anything, our navigators find a way to get them the help they need. We sometimes forget about customer service in healthcare, but our navigators are absolutely focused on the customer.
“Our navigators are not necessarily nurses or medical personnel. We do extensive training, teaching them about our doctors; what they specialize in, what services they offer and what qualifies each patient to see each physician. This means that when our navigator makes a suggestion for a doctor, they know what that doctor specializes in and, in doing this, they help take the guesswork out of this very important decision.”
Eliminating the Insurance Confusion
Modern health insurance is anything but straightforward. As such, it presents another way the Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic patient navigator can cut through the chaos and get the patient what he or she needs.
“Managing a patient’s insurance can be very frustrating,” McDaniel said. “But it doesn’t have to be. By asking the right questions we can help effectively guide the patient to a doctor in their network. We work closely with each of the referral line doctors so we know what insurance each of our referral line doctors accept.
“We always try to place a patient with a doctor who is in their network. However, if the doctor is outside their network, we would alert the patient and offer to schedule them with another doctor. At the very least, we would do our best to make the patient aware of any increase in their out-of-pocket costs.”
Less Anxiety is a Real Medical Benefit
In a recent interview, one of the Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center referral line surgeons was asked if the situation where patients are less stressed by the process helps with the patient’s recovery. He noted that when some of the anxiety is removed from the process and procedure, healing is enhanced.
“Most of the feedback we receive from patients is that we have made the process easier,” McDaniel said. “They are less anxious because they know what to expect.
“We communicate with each patient extensively and we try our best of pair them with the doctor who meets their medical needs and also their psychological needs. Our patient/physician matching process is not just based on the doctor’s specialty but many factors including location, availability and the specific needs of the patient.
“Our program is very intimate and this is sometimes lost in the fast-paced world in which we must operate. When it comes to healthcare, the fear of the unknown can take over. We do our best to ensure that our patients have as much information as they can absorb. Plus, we are here throughout the entire process. If something comes up where they are uncomfortable or they have questions, they call us and we get them answers.”
Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of THSOC.