EAST BAY: Kaiser Permanente Opens New Call Center In Vallejo
In a move "to cut patients' interminable waits in scheduling an appointment," Kaiser Permanente will hire 500 more people to staff its new call center in Vallejo. By next August the HMO plans to staff the center with over 700 employees -- including "registered nurses, customer service people and managers ... with bilingual staff at all levels" -- making it the "largest of Kaiser's three consolidated centers in Northern California." Ron George, director of the new Vallejo center, said, "Kaiser provides quality health care, but one of the things we've always (struggled) with is phone access. Because of all those smaller centers, it's been difficult to provide that kind of service." One of the center's main goals is to cut the time patients now have to wait on the phone scheduling appointments -- usually 15 minutes or more -- to "60 seconds or less, 90% of the time." The San Francisco Business Journal reports that "Kaiser has invested millions of dollars into automating the system and developing technology to link its three call centers to doctors' electronic schedules," which "gives operators the immediate ability to schedule appointments." While some say there are still complaints of long phone waits, George said the centers are only a third of the way completed and should "up to speed" by August. The center will serve Kaiser members throughout the "entire East Bay, from Napa to Pleasanton to Fresno." In addition, the Business Journal reports that the new center will be a boost for Vallejo, which "is viewing the center as a major coup in luring Kaiser there at a time when many call centers are getting shipped out of the expensive Bay Area." Kaiser says this is part of "its ongoing commitment to its home base in Northern California" (Bole, 10/19 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.