'With You Every Step of the Way': Q&A With MyHealth Bundles Patient Navigators

Through Vanderbilt’s MyHealth Bundles, patients have access to a dedicated patient navigator who handles all of their non-clinical needs. From booking appointments to navigating the health system to answering questions about what’s included in a bundle, patient navigators Bri Yip and Rachel Harris make sure every patient has concierge-level support and service. Currently, Yip and Harris handle patients enrolled in the MyMaternityHealth bundle, as well as a few pilot patients from the MyHearingHealth bundle. In the new year, Yip and Harris will work together to handle patients on three additional bundles: MySpineHealth, MyOrthoHealth–Hip and Knee Surgery, and MyWeightLossHealth–Surgical Weight Loss.

Patients can reach their navigator through a variety of channels, including phone calls, My Health at Vanderbilt messages and email. Harris and Yip balance multiple notifications each day by working together to make sure every communications channel is covered. In between phone calls, we asked them a few questions to learn more about their day-to-day work with bundles patients.

Tell us about your role as a patient navigator and why you enjoy it.

Rachel: Our role is to provide white glove service: We are a one-stop-shop for patients, and we take care of whatever they need. You can access us through chat, phone call, email or My Health at Vanderbilt messages—and we document all of the information and respond quickly. I enjoy this job because I know that my role is to make sure patients feel taken care of. Many times they are so excited and grateful for the service we provide. I like improving the patient experience as a whole and providing input on how to make their experience even better.

What are common questions and concerns you get from patients?

Bri: I often hear that patients don’t know what to expect. They are overwhelmed and don’t even know what questions to ask. I usually set up a time to tell them what to expect on their first appointment. I point out benefits they sometimes miss about the bundle—such as how education classes are covered. We start that conversation and then our scheduled email campaigns give them more information along the way. But most often we get a lot of questions about what they can expect from bundled services.

What feedback do you get from patients—good or bad?

Bri: Patients are really grateful that they have a person to call when they have problems. A lot of patients express their gratitude.

Rachel: We get a lot of good feedback, but sometimes patients point out issues with billing. Patients will get an Explanation of Benefits and get worried if they think they’re getting a surprise medical bill. And that’s an opportunity for us to improve how we communicate with our patients.

What are your favorite patient success stories?

Bri: I had a patient earlier this year who had a previous pregnancy at a different hospital, and she had a terrible experience. She never saw her doctor, only her nurse, and there was a severe lack of communication. It was an awful experience for her, and she walked away having a severe distrust of the process. After that, she established care at another clinic and was happy with her new provider—but they weren’t part of the bundle. Even when we explained how much money she could save through the bundle, she still felt distrust and didn’t want to leave her new provider. I listened to her needs and concerns and ended up referring her to the Vanderbilt Midwives Clinic—but she was still very hesitant. So, I reached out to my contact at the Midwives Clinic and gave them all the information about this patient and told them exactly what she needed to feel safe. Fast forward a few months later and she has had such a great experience that she told her friends about us, and her friends started enrolling in the bundle. I was so excited that her fantastic experience flourished and blossomed.

Rachel: I had a call with patient who wanted information about the bundle, and she sounded really nervous. After 45 minutes she asked if she could call back later with her boyfriend, the baby’s father, on the phone, too. That afternoon they called back and I explained the bundle to the baby’s father. After 45 minutes of answering their questions, they both started to cry. It turned out that he had just dropped down to part-time at work and so had she, and they were struggling with their finances. They didn’t have rent money and were wondering if they could even have the baby. They kept asking, “What’s the catch? What do we pay for?” They were beside themselves with the blessing of being able to have their employer pay for the medical costs. I loved that—that’s why I do what I do.

MyHealth Bundles patient navigators Bri Yip and Rachel Harris make sure every patient has concierge-level support and service.