Dear Patients and Community Members,
In the first six months of this role, and moving to this community, I have heard from many of our community members regarding the struggles of accessing care at Colorado Mountain Medical, both through our phone system and with appointment availability due to staffing challenges. This also includes scheduling appointments, receiving a call back, and meeting the most basic expectations of our services.
In an effort to resolve these issues, this week we have terminated our relationship with the 3rd party phone service we have been using, as well as changed our phone system back to a traditional menu that will allow callers to enter in extensions and press numbers to be redirected to the correct place. We have hired and trained an internal remote scheduling workforce that is primarily located throughout Colorado and will be dedicated to CMM’s phones and scheduling.
Similar to other local businesses and healthcare systems across the country, CMM has been impacted by staffing shortages since COVID-19. Nationwide, one in five healthcare workers have left the profession during the past 12 months, and there is data that indicates another large percentage will leave during the next 12-24 months. Additionally, there is a 40 percent vacancy rate among clinical assistants, who are primarily responsible for answering phones, helping patients and other crucial administrative duties.
During this challenging time, we have still been able to recruit high-quality providers across multiple specialties, and I’m pleased that a number of doctors have just started or will be starting in the coming weeks.
We are also expanding the CMM care team to include virtual clinical experts that can assist in triaging, refilling medication, patient portal responsiveness, etc. These care team members are CMM employees and will enable the onsite team to focus on the needs of the patients in-clinic.
Additionally, we plan to utilize working technology, including online scheduling, remote check-in, and two-way text messaging, to help alleviate some of the administrative pressure. We will be asking patients to assist us by filling out registration and forms ahead of time, showing up for appointments prior to the appointment time, and respecting our staff and clinical teams when at CMM.
I want to thank our providers and staff for their continued dedication to our patients and for taking on additional duties to help fill the gaps we’ve experienced. We are extremely grateful for each one of them. In partnership with Vail Health, we are also working to improve the employee experience by: focusing on our culture and recognition programs, creating new job scopes with added expertise, outlining career pathways within our organization, providing better benefits package with a focus on wellness, increasing our base and bonus compensations, and building streamlined processes and systems.
We are hopeful that by acknowledging the challenges we’ve had, learning from them, and finding creative solutions we will improve both our patient and employee experience for the long-term.
Joining this community has been extraordinary and knowing the impact CMM has on the health and wellness of this community is a big responsibility that I, and the entire CMM team, welcome. Through feedback from our incredible community and patients, we want to eliminate barriers to care and provide the type of service and experience you deserve.
Thank you for choosing CMM for your care, and we hope these and future steps we are taking will improve your experience.
President, Colorado Mountain Medical