By D.K. Christi

The much anticipated grand opening of Lee Health’s Coconut Point healthcare and wellness facility happens this month, and administrators can’t wait to show it off. Advanced technology is being employed to create a new level of customer care, which means patients can look forward to fewer phone calls, shorter wait times and information easily accessible, where and when it’s needed.

And it all begins at home. “I find it gratifying to think of checking into Lee Health Coconut Point from home and knowing that everyone, from the emergency room staff to the labs, has current patient record access through the entire process,” says Dr. Larry Antonucci, Lee Health president and CEO. His 24 years of experience as a frontline obstetrics and gynecology physician provided him with first-hand knowledge regarding the frustrations of navigating healthcare systems.

Lee Health’s updated, free “My Chart” application (app) allows guests to find providers, make appointments, complete required paperwork, update demographics and receive communications regarding appointments — all on a smartphone. The app coordinates multiple appointments with multiple providers within the Lee Health system, requiring users to input data just once.


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According to David Cato, chief administrative officer of outpatient services, this advanced technology plan evolved from hands-on simulations with cardboard and cutouts used during a series of design team meetings, involving 80-plus members, from November 2015 to February 2016. They began with the end in mind — an exceptional patient experience.

Antonucci cast the vision: a frictionless experience so patients have minimal frustration.

“The first step in this process is the single check in, whether an outpatient or headed for radiology,” he explains. 

The IT management team was tasked with translating needs into specific application solutions. This highly experienced team included Tricia Parker, director of revenue cycle information systems; Shari Trivett, manager of clinical information systems; and Cristi Roncaglione, director of ambulatory information systems. Their team implemented functions and tested each step in the “frictionless navigation process.”

The app accesses GPS with Way Finder to route the guest to Lee Health Coconut Point and then to specific offices. “Hello Patient” tracks progress to arrival – eliminating wait time.

Prescriptions go to the onsite pharmacy for pickup upon departure, co-pays are paid on the app, and the patient can access online, real-time health records at any time through My Chart. This frictionless process from the patient’s starting location to Lee Health Coconut Point, and back, requires no physical check-in or checkout – only the Lee Health app.

Smartphones and tablets will be in constant use by staff. Electronics provide instant access to patient records, track patient activities to notify the next office of arrival, and provide communication among staff to benefit the patient. Optionally, a loved one or friend may receive patient status updates while waiting in the Bistro or other location.

Lee Health Coconut Point is in the unique position to implement patient-friendly, advanced technology from Day One. Antonucci feels this generation of patients is ready, with smartphones and related electronics, to improve the quality of their medical experience with time-saving, information-efficient solutions. But don’t worry. For those whose eyes roll at the thought of smartphones, other systems exist to ensure their seamless experience, as well.

Computers may access all but the GPS-dependent Way Finder and Hello Patient functions. Kiosks on the Lee Health Coconut Point campus provide app access. For a “high touch” experience, greeters are available to assist, working from open desks in the lobby to provide customer-friendly, individualized help. The modern lobby design puts offices directly in the line of sight. Navigators at the Healthy Life Center may be sought to recommend healthcare providers and to help with navigating the advanced technology.

“Lee Health Coconut Point will be the proving ground for technology that will spread throughout the Lee Health system,” declares Antonucci.

While some of the app functions are found at other Lee Health facilities, they will all come online at Lee Health Coconut Point. He cautions, however, that tech is only a tool: “People using the tool make the difference.”

“Tools change over time from type to concept,” adds Cato. “A very intentional culture has been created at Lee Health Coconut Point with every employee believing in creating an exceptional customer experience.”

That commitment will remain constant under the direction of Lee Health Coconut Point Vice President Alex Greenwood and his leadership team. Their shared vision is a patient-centered process which embraces and maximizes technology to deliver excellent customer experience.

With such a high-tech and thoughtful patient navigation system, Lee Health Coconut Point strives to deliver an exceptional patient experience every time, says Greenwood. This one-of-a-kind health and wellness complex, located in Estero, very likely will become a model for future ambulatory facilities, not only with in the Lee Health system but also nationally, he adds.

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