COVID Call Center
Yale New Haven Health’s COVID Call Center serves as a one-stop shop for all questions related to COVID. The call center operates seven days a week by staff who provide COVID education, arrange for COVID testing, schedule vaccine appointments, and complete a COVID assessment with triage to providers for a telehealth visit. How does this build trustworthiness? The call center, and its ability to triage sick individuals and facilitate connections for them with clinicians, communicates a strong message of caring and compassion to patients and enhances the reliability and consistency of services.
How It Works
This involves an easy to remember phone number (833-ASK-YNHH) that serves as a one-stop shop for all questions related to COVID. The call center is staffed seven days a week with non-clinical staff who answer calls and triage to clinical staff who can arrange COVID testing or a telehealth visit. This combination of an information center, coupled with on-demand medical care from a not-for-profit academic health center when needed, helped individuals feel they were getting excellent care.
Skills and Competencies
This started because our communities have questions, and even with the copious amounts of information available online, being able to speak with a human who could provide guidance and or reassurance is exactly what was needed during this pandemic. Daily briefings for all call center staff ensured consistency in messaging and accurate information, and the ability to triage sick individuals and facilitate connections with clinicians provided access to individuals.
In March 2020, responding to COVID-19 Yale-New Haven Health created a centralized Call Center to circulate information, provide telehealth visits and follow-up care, and coordinate laboratory testing for our communities and clinicians across Southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. Given the rapidly changing information about this novel virus, individuals were looking for a source for health information they could trust.
The key principles of the Call Center are:
- Serving the community, patients, clinicians, and workers.
- Adapting nimbly to a rapidly changing landscape.
- Connecting people to information and expertise.
- Comforting and reassuring our callers.
- Collaborating with community leaders, government agencies, and other healthcare organizations.
Between March 9, 2020 and October 2020, it has addressed infection prevention and management at the population-health level, handling over 275,000 calls from the community, clinicians, and our staff and providing over 16,400 COVID-19-related telehealth assessments in the first eight months. This free service has become the go-to resource for accurate, personalized information for our communities.
The call center infrastructure is built upon the principle of being an easily accessible, equitable resource to answer medical questions during a pandemic. This can be replicated in a hospital of any size, from a simple hotline at a community hospital to a more complex multi-provider network in larger hospitals or health systems. It can continue to be a valuable community resource after the pandemic, once it has established itself as a trusted information source. It can be scaled up or down based upon the need and also available resources (i.e. does not need to include telehealth capabilities internally, though could partner with others or direct to in-person visits where indicated).