Department Spotlight: Customer Engagement Center

By: Alana Ridge

November 18, 2022

The Customer Engagement Center team posing on Microsoft Teams during their virtual team meeting.

Do it for the patient. That’s the motto that each employee in the Customer Engagement Center (CEC) lives by every single day. This team spins all the existing stereotypical thoughts about call centers on their side by empowering and partnering with patients to achieve their best health. Being transferred around several times just isn’t in this team’s DNA – being a one-stop-shop for patient scheduling, referrals, insurance matters and more is how they proudly operate. Through elevating the customer engagement experience, the CEC closes care gaps to ensure patients get the right care at the right time. From employees who work from our home base in Reno, all the way to the southeastern corner of Florida, this primarily remote team stays firmly connected and collaborative to make patient care possible for all Renown Health patients and Hometown Health and Senior Care Plus members. 

The “Make It Happen” Department 

Back-to-back phone calls about a wide variety of patient needs? They make it happen. Referrals that need to go directly to the provider? They make it happen. Complex insurance questions that need to be resolved? They make it happen. The CEC is the keeper of all things customer service and all things patient satisfaction, leveraging technology to improve engagement and accessibility – and they wear that badge with pride. 

“Patient care is our first priority,” said Cindy Arevalo, Supervisor of Customer Engagement. “Even though we aren’t face-to-face with them, we are always there to help them over the phone with whatever their needs are.” 

The CEC has a lot of different sub-departments under its umbrella: scheduling, referrals, insurance, patient outreach, personal assistants, MyChart customer service and more. Each team handles calls for a different section of our health system, including the hospitals, imaging, primary care and specialty care. While their individual teams may be different, one aspect of their jobs remains the same: they care. Deeply. 

“We advocate for the patient, especially when they can’t advocate for themselves,” said Amanda Ishii, Referral Specialist. 

“We are the first people that patients speak to, and we all have empathy to listen to them, help them solve their problems and take as much time as they need to care for their needs,” added Susana Arroyo Garcia, Supervisor of Customer Engagement. 

Customer loyalty is key to the CEC. Every CEC team member builds strong relationships with patients and members. Whether they manage patient outreach or manage back-to-back inbound calls, each employee feels a special connection to the helpful work they do to solve a variety of patient concerns. 

“As Senior Care Plus Personal Assistants, for instance, we help guide our members through complex situations, and we eliminate the process of transferring them to different departments, becoming a ‘one-stop-shop' for them,” said Stephanie Perez Campbell, Senior Care Plus (SCP) Health Coordinator. “While every day is different, we are constantly learning new things and helping members navigate through the health system." 

With the 4.5 million calls the CEC handles per year, the nature of their jobs is undoubtedly fast paced. However, this does not intimidate the CEC team members; instead, it inspires them to continue reaching new milestones, helping thousands of patients and members every year by handling all the scheduling and referral work on the backend so that they can receive the care needed. 

“I never find myself sitting around asking, ‘what should I do next,’” said Gina Briles, Supervisor of Customer Engagement. “We always support each other to stay on top of it all in order to take care of our patients.” 

By wearing a lot of hats and managing many different work queues all while staying engaged with each patient, the CEC is full of natural problem-solvers, helping our healthcare network run smoothly. 

“The Engagement Center is the front door for the community; serving as the voice of the customer, we ensure patients do not fall through the cracks of the complex healthcare system and are able to easily access the right care at the right time through an exceptional experience,” said Candace Dietrich, Director of Customer Engagement.  

Consistently Connected 

With thousands of referrals to process and millions of calls to field, the ways the CEC stays connected to patients and members as well as each other can be related closely to magic. No concern goes unnoticed, and no problem is too complicated. 

“The sheer volume of patients we engage with is incredible,” said Rene Jacinto, Manager of Customer Engagement. “We processed nearly 200,000 referrals and authorizations last year.” 

“We expect a steady increase of calls year-over-year. My team processed 1,259 referrals in one day alone recently,” added Arielle Gomes, Referral Specialist. 

A superpower that every CEC team member holds is the ability to listen. According to this department, active listening is key when problem-solving with every patient and member, as that skill helps them anticipate patient needs and resolve their issues quickly and efficiently. 

“I’ll always listen,” said Alex Gomez, Customer Engagement Representative. “I want them to know that they are in good hands, especially when they are feeling scared or frustrated.” 

Team members like Alex help carefully guide customers through the Hometown Health and Senior Care Plus enrollment process, increasing membership and engaging patients to find the perfect plan for them. 

One of the largest challenges the CEC faces is the departures and arrivals of providers. The ebbs and flows of all hospital systems include provider departures and shifting provider availabilities. Despite this challenge, the CEC staff work hard to ensure communication with all patients regarding provider changes is consistent and that all patients are scheduled in a slot that works for both their schedule and the provider’s schedule. 

“It’s important for us to be flexible, because things can change at a moment’s notice,” said Gina Briles. “This is more than just a job – we are here for our patients. What we are doing impacts everyone.” 

Throughout all times of transition, the CEC builds robust relationships with both patients and providers within our organization and community, a skill that this team emphasizes as “fundamentally important.” For example, SCP Personal Assistants like Stephanie Perez Campbell will coordinate care with community resources and offices, giving members one less call to make and one less hurdle to cross in order to get the care they need. 

On top of it all, even though this team has the ability to work from all 50 states (and many of them work outside of Nevada!), every employee feels connected to their colleagues and their work. 

“This is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with,” said Riley Petro, Manager of Customer Engagement – Imaging. “I am super lucky for this job and am so thankful for these people.” 

Proud and Powerful 

The proof is in the pudding – or rather, the proof is in the numbers. Within the 4.5 million calls they successfully field every year, approximately 1.6 million of those calls route through the private branch exchange (PBX) team – the team that oversees the main operator lines – under the guidance of Jess Nater, Supervisor of Customer Engagement. The CEC is also on track to handle nearly 300,000 referrals this year alone. Additionally, the Hometown Health CEC team was recognized nationally this year with a five-star rating from Medicare. 

“We all have the initiative to grow, and because of this, we are always learning something new,” said Cindy Arevalo. “Our leaders also support our growth, especially if we want to skill-build or advance in our careers.” 

The CEC is frequently the first stop on the career ladder for many employees as they start their journey in healthcare, and CEC leadership is committed to the growth and development of their teams to reach their career goals at Renown. 

The secret formula for all this success can be in part attributed to the pride each CEC employee has for their team, their work and Renown. 

“We have a very supportive team,” said Holly Coffey, Supervisor of Customer Engagement. “I’ve seen our leaders support their teams tremendously.” 

“We rely on each other,” added Ashleigh Carty, Customer Engagement Representative. "I love the relationships we create with one another.” 

Employees in the CEC come from many walks of life, choosing to work at Renown and Hometown Health for a variety of different reasons, many related to the positive power our health system holds. Team members in this department hold a myriad of different career backgrounds, including pharmacy technicians, medical assistants, population health professionals, community health workers and more. 

Some team members, like Nikki Clifford, Customer Engagement Representative Lead, heard wonderful things about Renown from her mother, who also works for Renown. According to Nikki, “seeing how happy my mom has been in her career made me want to join too. I’ve loved it here ever since.”  

Katie Lunau, Supervisor of Customer Engagement, also grew up in a family involved in healthcare, and she wanted to follow in their footsteps. Choosing Renown as the place to follow her family path was a simple one, because “Renown stood out as the company that was actively involved in the community helping others.” 

For other team members, like Susana Arroyo Garcia, Ashleigh Carty and Stephanie Perez Campbell, Renown and Hometown Health’s impact on the local healthcare landscape was their primary driver for choosing a career here and in the CEC specifically. 

“Renown is very well-known in the area,” said Stephanie Perez Campbell. “I went to school in Reno for public health, so Renown came up all the time in my schooling. I knew Renown had a lot of different opportunities available for career growth, and with the friendly environment I always experienced here, it was an easy decision.” 

“Once I went through the interview process and joined the team, I immediately realized that there are outstanding managers, support systems and communication skills here. People genuinely care,” added Ashleigh Carty. 

Ashleigh is exactly right. As emphasized by every team member, employees in the CEC care. Their heightened levels of care and empathy set the bar high for all at Renown and Hometown Health, and their impact will be felt for years to come. 

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