Bryan Rexroad works in the Wilmer Eye Institute call center, where he and a team of 45 agents field more than 35,000 calls per month from anxious patients and pressed doctors. His goal is ensuring any patient seeking a same-day appointment can get one—and making this happen in the most compassionate and efficient way possible.
Rexroad says he’s always been an open person who can talk to anyone. “Whenever I train somebody to be a patient access specialist, I tell them to be open and treat everyone almost like they’re your friend.”
When people find out he works in a call center, they’re often curious about what kind of call center it is. He explains that it’s for Johns Hopkins, and that his day is spent making appointments for doctors and triaging calls. It’s a responsibility he considers to be extremely important—it’s work, he says, that makes a difference in patients’ lives.
On average, Rexroad answers between 70 to 100 calls a day. It only takes a few seconds to decipher whether a call is going to be predictable or more challenging. “Calls can be from someone who needs a routine eye exam, so they just want glasses, to someone having an urgent issue, like they’re seeing floating spots, flashing lights; all these symptoms that could lead to something.”
It’s one reason Rexroad enjoys interacting with patients; every conversation is different. “A lot of the elderly people like to tell puns and jokes,” he says. “I’ll ask them if they have a good callback number and they’ll say, no, I just have a regular one.” If a patient is upset or frustrated, Rexroad says being empathetic can be helpful. “You have to have empathy and understand where they’re coming from,” Rexroad adds. “I know if I was losing my sight, I’d probably be frustrated with many things.”
His greatest satisfaction comes from pointing patients in the right direction, something that can quickly reduce the stress they’re feeling. “My favorite types of calls are, honestly, providing the appropriate information,” he says. “It’s always really nice when somebody starts off super grumpy, and then you help them out and they’re the most thankful people that you’ve helped.”