UCI Health relaunches improved Patient Access Center

December 21, 2018
Kim Payne, director of the UCI Health Patient Access Center, and Dr. Nasim Afsar, director of Ambulatory Services, introduce the Zen-Zone standing work stations on Dec. 19, 2018.
UCI Health Patient Access Center Director Kim Payne (left) and Dr. Nasim Afsar, UCI Health chief ambulatory officer, introduce the Zen-Zone, standing work stations that allow call center employees to improve their health by varying their work positions throughout the day. 

UCI Health has relaunched its call center to deliver higher quality services to patients while ensuring a safe work environment. 

The call center is now called the Patient Access Center, said Dr. Nasim Afsar, head of outpatient services for UCI Health, because “we don’t just help patients with scheduling appointments. Patients call with questions from, ‘Where do I drop off my stool sample?’ to ‘Where do I go for X-rays?’ and ‘Where do I park?’ Patients even call about lost jackets and any number of other things.”

Afsar called the center’s more than 95 employees, who answer 75,000 calls each month, “unsung heroes” because they go unrecognized for the service they provide. “This amazing staff makes sure our patients can navigate our system. It is an incredibly intense job, answering call after call, hour after hour, day after day.”

Just as UCI Heath is committed to providing its patients with the best care available, the organization wants to ensure its staff also stays well.

Kim D. Payne, director of support services for ambulatory care, said there are challenges for employees who work at a “very sedentary job that can wreak havoc on their health.” 

The center’s staff often complain of joint stiffness as well as back, wrist and leg pain due to repetitive motion duties and sitting for long hours. 

To address those issues, Payne is launching a new work area — the Zen Zone. It features stand-up desks where the center’s employees can work at an ergonomically designed desk while standing on a shock absorbent mat.

“Research shows that sitting is the new smoking,” Payne said. “Our staff reported feeling chained to their desk. So we came up with a preventive health response to support our employees. We genuinely care for our dedicated employees, so we hope to create a healthy work environment as well as decrease the potential for work injury time off due to illness. Safety and preventive health at work is a true best practice.”

Payne says additional improvements for patients are in the works, including: 

  • Text reminders for patients 
  • Chat and social media communication with patients
  • Interactive voice recognition technology
  • Workforce management that allows minute-by-minute forecasting of call arrivals and staffing needs 

“The future is ours and we plan to deliver the absolute best to our patients,” Payne says.