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How MaineHealth offers patient-centered care with Twilio

MaineHealth wanted to move away from their traditional call center model to connect with patients more successfully and provide them seamless experiences to remove barriers in getting care.

The Results
savings in operating costs
texts & calls to 600K NH & Maine residents
minute reduction in contact center wait times

MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system that provides healthcare to residents of Maine and parts of New Hampshire, serving approximately one million patients per year. To create a smoother patient journey, MaineHealth needed a platform that could provide voice, messaging, and automations to seamlessly deploy their communications at scale.

Lawrence (Larry) Burningham, the Assistant Vice President of Digital Experience for MaineHealth, looked to Twilio to take MaineHealth away from their traditional call center model and into a dynamic, two-way communication that makes patient experience a top priority. "We don’t want people to fall through the cracks in the system," said Larry Burningham, AVP of Digital Experience at MaineHealth. "We want to use an omnichannel approach to capture them in the channel they are comfortable with and direct them to the right place."

Burningham’s ultimate goal was to provide intuitive, self-service patient communications at scale. With the challenges of accessing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing this plan was even more critical.

Improved patient outreach in the before times

Twilio Voice and Messaging has greatly improved MaineHealth’s patient communications, especially in their outreach efforts for patients who expressed interest in quitting smoking.

Before implementing Twilio, only one agent from MaineHealth would get a list of patient referrals for the tobacco cessation program, and they would call each person on the list one by one. The communications were all outbound; the agent would call hoping for a response, but if the person did not answer their phone, there wasn’t a good way to touch base with them again in the future.

As Burningham says, these lapses in outreach are especially worrying because, “every day that goes by after getting referred to this program … the likelihood that you’re going to want to quit smoking decreases dramatically. So, we want to reach people immediately.”

Now that the MaineHealth team is using Twilio, an automatic workflow is triggered to contact people on the referral list as soon as a referral is made. The system starts with a phone call, then a text message, and then a phone call, and repeats the process as necessary. If someone wants to participate in the program, they can respond to a text message and sign up online, or talk to an agent on the phone and be walked through the process. Using Twilio has not only helped MaineHealth reach more patients, but it has made the workload much more manageable for the MaineHealth outreach team.

Seeing Twilio’s success in improving outreach for the tobacco cessation program proved to Burningham just how valuable the platform could be in improving patient experience.

Patient care during the pandemic

Working in the healthcare industry during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burningham was always thinking about how to improve digital communications to better serve MaineHealth’s patients. When multiple vaccines had been developed, one question that he couldn’t shake was, “How are people going to let us know they want the vaccine?”

There had been talks at the state and federal level of creating a notification system, but Burningham knew that a system like this would be incredibly difficult to create and take a long time to deploy. Instead of waiting for a governmental vaccine notification system to be built, he decided to try to get an answer to his question with Twilio.

Burningham set up an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) campaign within Twilio to capture core demographics of MaineHealth’s patients. The system would call and record the patient’s age, phone number, and county in which they lived. When the vaccines became available for that patient’s age group within the patient’s county, the system would call the patient to notify them of this. Burningham and his team were able to build this campaign within Twilio in just a few hours.

The campaign was launched days later with the approval of senior leadership. Within eight hours, over 20,000 people had signed up, and within the first 24 hours, that number jumped to 120,000.

The results

After seeing the strong response from the community, Burningham and his team went back to make the IVR campaign even more robust by adding eligibility, confirmation and scheduling invite messages through voice and text to alert the patient that they have signed up successfully for vaccine notifications.

If we went with another company, we would have spent north of one million dollars on operating costs alone. Twilio was much more affordable, and the platform is very nimble.

Larry Burningham, AVP Digital Experience

Throughout the pandemic, MaineHealth communicated with over 600K New Hampshire and Maine residents using Twilio SMS & Voice. They sent almost 1.5 million text messages and calls to communicate with people residing in the above states. Due to the platform’s ease of use, MaineHealth didn’t need to add new staff or triage other staff members away from their primary roles to build and deploy the vaccine notification system. Burningham predicts that they saved over 20,000 hours of labor by using Twilio over another enterprise competitor.

Wait times saw a significant improvement as well. For previous voice campaigns, patients calling in would experience wait times of up to 45 minutes. With Twilio, patients experience virtually no wait times at all.

Due in part to this successful IVR campaign, MaineHealth was able to vaccinate 40-45% of the state of Maine.

Future of MaineHealth and Twilio

With the incredible success MaineHealth has seen with Twilio thus far, Burningham is excited to explore other solutions to make patient experience truly omnichannel. His goal is to help patients access appointments and the care they need seamlessly, whether through calling, texting, or video.

MaineHealth has a Patient Engagement team that focuses specifically on patient journeys and workflows to help bring this vision to fruition. In the same department, there is also a Process Improvement team that leverages Twilio to improve the internal processes at MaineHealth. These teams will be integral in growing the relationship between Twilio and MaineHealth, and providing new channels of communication for patients.

Burningham believes that the future of the healthcare industry is patient-centered care, whether through self-service portals or the personal touch of an agent. The organizations that will lead the way are the ones that dedicate themselves to providing fantastic patient experience.

Burningham says, “I don’t want patients to feel like technology is involved; I want the patient experience to feel natural.” With the previous successes under his belt and Twilio on his side, Burningham is well on the way to creating industry-leading patient experience with MaineHealth.