Access Champions

The Patient Access Collaborative would like to recognize members who have demonstrated excellence in patient access. Below is a list of individuals who have positively impacted patient access at their health care organization by improving access workflows, breaking down access barriers, or going above and beyond their call of duty to ensure patients get access to their ambulatory enterprise. 


Matthew Appelle
Senior Client Services Manager, Montefiore Medical Center

Nominated by Elizabeth Hery, Senior Project Manager
"Matthew Appelle in the Senior Manager of the Client Services Team at Montefiore Medical Center, a large regional hospital enterprise in the New York City region.  In his role, Matt explores and implements ways for our lines of business to maximize their access through template optimization, the creation of EPIC decision trees and implementing the tools of the trade.   Matthew Appelle studies patient access and the technology to support it.  He is our go-to for cutting edge initiatives to implement and knowing what is best for our medical providers and patients.  I can only emphasize the knowledge he brings to patient access and is willingness to train all of us to be at our best to implement access improvement." 


Kendra Ask-Carlson
Senior Business Analyst, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Brynn Howard, Administrator - Office of Access Managment
"Kendra Ask Carlson is a Practice Senior Business Analyst at Mayo Clinic Rochester.  For the past three years Kendra has been transforming the pediatric practice by leading a two year scheduling system overhaul project.  To complete this large project, Kendra has partnered closely with Department of Pediatrics Senior leadership and all their division leaders to create new blocks and visit types on templates to improve efficiency of scheduling and increase access.  Over the past year, scheduling productivity has doubled due to her efforts.  In addition, she is transforming system and care model pathways by utilizing multi-visit functionality and helping schedulers quickly adopt waitlist automation and manual offers for patient self-scheduling to improve access and satisfaction of patients and the care team.  Finally, Kendra is an advocate for scheduling and patient portal digital efficiencies for pediatric patients and the limitations of parent healthcare proxy accounts.  She understands this patient populations appreciation for technology and continues to suggest innovative ideas to overcome the barriers of healthcare proxy accounts.  For these reasons, I am nominating Kendra Ask Carlson as an Access Champion to recognize her relentless leadership in transforming pediatric access."


Jane Baker
Desk Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Amy Van Gundy, Operations Administrator
"During the initial stages of the COVID pandemic to reduce patient time in the room with providers, Jane restructured her team to complete med reconciliation and other important intake documentation via a phone call prior to arrival. She was the first in our organization to do this work and was also able to have to this work from home, which helped when employees had COVID and kept the work unit functioning. Based on Jane's initial work we are now rolling out this process across the Mayo Clinic Rochester campus. Jane is an innovative and forward thinking leader that helps her team move forward. This is just one major accomplishment in Jane's tenure as a Mayo Clinic leadership."

Lorrie Bowe
Supervisor Access Operations, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Troy Thul, Operations Manager
"Lorrie Bowe is a Supervisor of Access Operations at Mayo Clinic Rochester. For the past year, Lorrie has been transforming the Scheduling Operations Training Program by leading multiple project initiatives. She successfully completed the transformation of the new hire candidate pool by centralizing the interview process to support the pre-hiring of staff. This has reduced the time from when an employee leaves their job to receiving a newly trained employee from twelve to six weeks.  This was a crucial change as turnover was at an all-time high, and the results was a significant increase in interviewing, hiring and training.    Lorrie also developed a new remote training program and will decrease training time from six to four weeks while maintaining the integrity of the program and improving quality.  In collaboration with her supervisor colleagues, Lorrie is leading and developing a standardized specialty office training program with tailored process flows for each office to better support onboarding new staff and floats.  Finally, Lorrie is a wellness champion and a strong advocate for ensuring joy in the workplace. She has created two wellness areas in the workplace to provide our staff with an opportunity reduce stress and improve morale. For these reasons, I am nominating Lorrie Bowe as an Access Champion to recognize her relentless leadership in transforming the Scheduling Operations Training Program and the health of the department."


Meg Chambard
Program Manager, Virtual Care Services and Care Access & Service Integration (CASI), UNC Health

Nominated by Mary Beth Ginn, Regional Administrator
"Meg has been an integral part of UNC Health virtual care access growth over the last year. Key accomplishments include leading the launch of our UNC Health Virtual Practice primary care access pilot in spring of 2021, which enabled centralized virtual primary care access support for system primary care clinics with access constraints. She built an analytics program for Virtual Practice primary care services to monitor, optimize and ultimately expand services to further open access within UNC. She navigated complex discussions resulting in direct scheduling through MyChart and supported development of our virtual front desk workflows. With Meg's support, we have grown our Virtual Practice operation through these initiatives 76% in 1 year.

On a system level, Meg is coordinating strategic digital front door initiatives and recently achieved system approval to adopt Experian for MyChart account activation. We are excited about this new service that enable not-yet-patient access and support external marketing efforts. Currently, she is working to develop a linkage between our centralized NurseConnect triage team and the UNC Health Virtual Practice to enable after hours and weekend access.

Meg is a fierce advocate for a frictionless patient experience. As a leader and colleague, Meg is a master facilitator and communicator who is dedicated to the success of the team. She is a strategic thinker, highly creative, and analytic. We are so lucky to have Meg on our team and there is no question we would not be as far as we are in virtual care at UNC without her! She has the full support of our team, including Medical Director-Virtual Care Services and Nurse Connect Dr. Amir Barzin, Interim Director-Nurse Connect Laurie O'Bryan, and Director-Virtual Care Services Jami Mann, in this nomination!"   


Liz Deleener
Associate COO, Penn Medicine

Nominated by Danielle Werner, COO
"Liz has been integral to Penn Medicine's access strategy throughout the pandemic, first in her role as Director of Network Telemedicine and now in her role in supporting the broader access strategies across 250+ ambulatory practices at Penn Medicine including staffing, workflows, and room utilization. Liz has been integral in solving workflow concerns in support of implementation of virtual visits, new patient access, and patient self-scheduling. She has gone above and beyond to be inclusive, collaborative, and ensure timely communications. We are grateful for her leadership."


Kara Elpert
Access Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic

Nominated by Bekah DeYoung, Operations Manager
"Kara Elpert is the Appointment Office Supervisor for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Gynecological Surgery at Mayo Clinic. Kara assists in and directs the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies and tools to effectively manage access for the practice she supports. Kara manages a team of 25 staff members dedicated to scheduling Mayo Clinic patients being seen in her divisions. She also supports her department with data analysis, the development of findings and recommendations, and effectively promotes innovation to improve access and our patient experience.  Kara has consistently demonstrated her ability to effectively put plans into action for multiple digital patient self-scheduling initiatives, including ticket scheduling, direct scheduling, fast pass/fast track and waitlist functionality. She embraces change and is always willing to be at the forefront to try new strategies while providing clear direction and guidance to successfully lead her team."


Haley Gauley
Access Manager, University of Iowa - PAC

Nominated by Sofia Ramirez, Patient Access Coordinator
"Haley has demonstrated excellence in patient access within her role by going above and beyond in everything she has done for her departments. Not only has she optimized the workflow of how medical records are viewed in new referrals but she has also streamlined how patients are seen in Heart and Vascular by increasing check out capture rates for scheduling, decreasing scheduling order workflows, significantly reducing call wait times and increasing template availability for providers. This is only the tip of the iceberg on the successes seen in Haley's accomplishments within her department but in other departments as well, the changes left were profound and positive. We are very fortunate to have such a pivotal member of our healthcare team thrive as much as she does."


Clay Hatter
Principle Business Analyst, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Brynn Howard, Administrator - Office of Access Management
"Clay Hatter is a Practice Principal Analyst at Mayo Clinic Rochester.  Over the past year, he has been instrumental in creating new Ophthalmology templates that better align patients to the correct provider and increase appointment volumes which has improved patient and care team satisfaction and financial outcomes.  In addition, he is helping Ophthalmology create new decision trees helping the schedulers move from an excel sheet to utilizing system functionality.  Also, he has been instrumental in helping Urology with template builds and increasing access to improve consult surgical yield.  Finally, he volunteered to lead a two year patient self-scheduling project for the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, clinical practice.  He is using business agility to gain quick wins by educating all practice analysts, schedulers and desk operations (>2,000 team members).  He has configurated a phased approach so 45 specialties will have various forms of self-scheduling by the end of 2022.  In both of these impactful projects, Clay has successfully navigated and moved stakeholder groups through challenging change management dynamics.  Clay’s leadership is transforming access at Mayo Clinic Rochester and improving patient experience."


Leslie Holtzapple
Administrative Director, Geisinger

Nominated by Patrick Kokoruda, Associate Vice President - Clinical Access Management
"Leslie serves as a key member of Geisinger's Access team. Leading the Capacity Management team Leslie oversees Access Integration, Access Support & Template Management. Leslie contributions have been instrumental to improving the patient experience and efficiency of our access center.

Leslie has overseen so much impactful work for our organization. Her notable accomplishments include implementing the following: Direct self-scheduling within Epic; Ticket self-Scheduling; Kyruus self-scheduling; Standardized templates, auto solutions & Role based scheduling to improve scheduling accuracy; Decision tree implementations; MyChart scheduling modernization; Onboarding clinics to template management and standardized templates and much more.

Through COVID Leslie worked early, late and on the weekends to stand up our COVID self scheduling, vaccine scheduling, updating templates, decision trees and guided scheduling. Leslie works closely with the contact center and operations team to improve efficiency, utilization and the overall experience for our patients, providers and staff. Her drive, passion and work ethic has helped elevate the access experience for our patients and organization. I am thankful for Leslie's leadership and contributions to our team."


Jackie Kelly
AVP, Patient Access Services, Northwell Health

Nominated by Holly Koehler, VP, Patient Access Services 
"Jackie leads many new successful programs at Northwell Health. There are 2 that I would like to recognize her for which helped to break down barriers. The first program is the Hospital Discharge appointment program. She led this program working with hospital clinical and administrative leaders to schedule patient appointments for follow up care with a provider before leaving the hospital. This is a new program at Northwell that alleviates our residents, fellows, and providers from finding follow up care for patients prior to discharge and puts it in the hands of the access team. The access team receives the request from the discharging provider 1-2 days prior to discharge. They contact the patient or caregiver while the patient is still in the facility. The access team works on all requests including high risk populations for readmission. The success to conversion is impactful and through new partnerships Jackie has bridged our access center is more valuable to the organization than before. This program is rolling out to all of our hospitals and has been a huge success. The second program led by Jackie is web appointment conversion. Northwell Health is still on the digital journey to have patients book online. While the functionality is available not all providers are enrolled. Patients have the ability to complete an on line form from the provider profile website page for an agent to reach them with the appointment. Patient Access has always seen a low conversion in the 20-30% range. Since Jackie has taken on the program she has partnered with clinical leaders to achieve nearly a 70% conversion rate."


Abhishek Kulkarni, MD
MD, SIU Medicine

Nominated by Mary Stewart, COO
"A few years ago I began working with Cardiology on their access. The Chair of the department asked for volunteers for each division to work on their access. Cardiology access was fair at best. Dr. Kulkarni and his charge nurse began working with my team. We met monthly and looked at new appointment types, overbooking, adding APRN's to help in the office and hospital and speaking personally with the referring physicians. Another successful strategy was offering a CME and the Cardiology physicians presented new ideas for cardiology patients to primary care physicians. Some of our monthly conversations were hard and challenging, but honestly I can say was always an open and honest discussion. Patient experience became very important, the scores and the comments, of course the good comments were well accepted but so were the not so good ones and actions were taken with those. All of these examples have led to new patient appointments at 7 days or less, and in some cases when needed, next day appointments. Patients are very happy with the care given and the scores reflect these changes. It takes a team to make this work and alot of conversations, but for patients, isn't that what this is all about?"


Robby Naatz
Desk Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic

Nominated by Amy Van Gundy, Operations Administrator
"Robby Naatz along with another supervisor spearheaded using technology for patient check-in including mobile appt check-in.  What was unique about Robby's approach is using his retail background he looked at the whole customer service experience.   He utilized the check-in staff and created scripting to be more of a concierge for the patient beyond assisting with check-in.   He developed offering them water or a warm blanket while they waited for outpatient appointments.   This work is going to be developed into best practices and spread across other areas of Mayo Clinic."


Mike Nocitra
Director, Penn Medicine Access Center, Penn Medicine

Nominated by Danielle Werner, COO
"Mike joined Penn Medicine at the start of the pandemic as a call center expert with no healthcare experience. He has provided unwavering leadership during these unprecedented times showing agility, patience, and gratitude. Mike has worked tirelessly to staff new volumes for COVID vaccine and test scheduling while moving a 300+ call center to work from home. He has helped experienced healthcare leaders learn the importance of telephony and call center design and supported onboarding over 12 new managers/supervisors in the last year. He championed for his workforce to reduce turnover, improve service levels, and develop teams. We are grateful for Mike's expertise and leadership as we continue to evolve our patient access strategies."


Lynn Schaefer
Coordinator Access Operations, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Corinna Nelson, Operations Manager Office of Access Management
"Lynn Schaefer is the Operations Coordinator at Mayo Clinic Rochester who has excelled in scheduling operations efforts for the past  21 years. She has worked in varying roles: Assistant Sup Desk Operations, Assistant Supervisor Access Operations, Supervisor in numerous Access Operations specialties and 3 years as Operations Coordinator. As an operations coordinator, Lynn is able to use her access knowledge and leadership to quickly, efficiently and effectively transform appointment office teams and implement large strategic projects. Most importantly, she has always done this with a focus on workplace culture and maintaining or improving team satisfaction. I would also like to recognize her quick call to action for all things Covid. Without hesitation, she collaborated with multiple groups to implement scheduling strategies and ensure the scheduling was informed and trained as the process was being built and implemented. In conclusion, I would like to nominate Lynn for her years of services to access, her passion for process improvement and removing barriers, her dedication to workforce culture and talent, and her ‘we CAN do it’ leadership."


Kirsten Scholz
Desk Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Amy Van Gundy, Operations Administrator
"Kirsten in partnership with another desk supervisor spearheaded using electronic check-in including mobile check-in technology at the Radiology desk. Due to staffing shortages in the pandemic. Kirsten looked at innovative ways to use technology to reduce the amount of staff needed at the desk. She developed a process for back office staff to round in the lobby to verify patients did not need support."


Ami Shumway
Director of Central Scheduling, Loma Linda University

Nominated by Bryan Tsao, Medical Director, Access Center
"Ami makes a daily positive impact on patient access at Loma Linda University Health. In addition to her strong management and leadership of a large central scheduling department, she has unrivaled expertise in content and is always happy to take direct calls or communications at a moment's notice. Her collegiality and willingness to vet new ideas and fit them into our complex structures allows us to continually refine our access workflows and efficiencies. Ami also conducts quick but thorough investigations into clinic complaints and physician allegations, which almost always show that the error rate of scheduling is within our services indexes, and often due to clinic-imposed requirements. But through this process she consistently maintains a positive and cheerful attitude, never blaming others and always looking to better our Access Center performance. I nominate Ami for her exemplary professionalism and the consistent positive impact she has on our patient care."


Amy Swanson
Access Operations Supervisor, Mayo Clinic - Rochester

Nominated by Christine Dvorak, Operations Manager
"Amy Swanson is an Access Operations Supervisor at Mayo Clinic Rochester who took a lateral Supervisor rotation to lead the Pediatric Scheduling Office through many challenges. In less than a year, she has transformed the scheduling culture by 1) re-aligning the Pod Structure; 2) updating procedures which has allowed for better Pod cross-training; 3) creating new staffing schedules and work flows to meet demands of patients, practice, and scheduling team; 4) encouraging open dialogue on scheduling concerns, and 5) developing strong practice relationships which has fostered better teamwork and collaboration. Amy has been an integral team member of the Pediatric scheduling transformation project by leading each Pediatric subspecialty through a deep dive into orders, template blocks, visit type mapping, turn back rules and digital scheduling opportunities. Her leadership has significantly increased employee productivity, increased fill rates and improved Work Queue management while improving the scheduling team culture."


Brandon Yoder
VP, Physician Practice & Academic Finance, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Nominated by Rachel Biederman, Operations Administrator
"In mid-2020 Brandon, a self-professed "finance guy," stepped into a leadership role over Children's contact center. Under his leadership, the contact center has undergone a dramatic transformation and realignment to better serve the needs of our patients and physicians. Brandon quickly became an expert in patient access, aligned the resources needed (internal and external) to assess the situation on the ground, and has led a difficult but important restructuring of our contact center to improve first contact resolution by breaking down structural silos and creating pods, creating career paths and opportunities for our front-line, centralizing template management, and partnering with the physician practice enterprise to implement template standards and optimizations. Though the work isn't yet complete, thanks to Brandon's leadership, the progress we have made is significant and the results of the work are beginning to show in our metrics. Undoubtedly, Brandon has had a profound impact on patient access at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta."