Improved Access in OHNS

January 2021

The Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) has made some recent changes to improve patient access, with notable success. Since June, the division has significantly improved its ability to get patients and their families an appointment within 72 hours.

Three changes have occurred:

1. (877) UC CHILD (877-822-4453). Beginning in June, OHNS switched over to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Access Center for all appointments. This single phone number simplifies the appointment process and enables access to all campuses and satellite offices. The goal is for the majority of parents to have an appointment scheduled by the end of the call.

2. Optimizing provider availability.

  • Every week, a pediatric OHNS fellowship-trained physician is assigned as the ear, nose and throat (ENT) hospitalist, with increased flexibility and availability to see patients in our outpatient, hospital-based clinics. This physician is also available for clinical questions through the same Access Center phone number.
  • Physician assistants are available for appointments Monday through Friday. They work closely with OHNS/ENT physicians in a collaborative, team-based care model.
  • A new ENT surgeon was added at the Mission Bay campus in July. The division is actively recruiting for another, which will bring the total to 11 physicians and three physician assistants on the care team.

3. Telehealth. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted innovation in leveraging existing technology for patient access, including telehealth. This has enhanced the division’s availability to “see” patients quickly and help to decide if other workups and/or an in-person appointment would be of benefit for comprehensive care.

To schedule an appointment with the UCSF Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, call (877) UC-CHILD (877‍-‍822‍-‍4453).

Hearing and Communication Clinic Offers Access via Telehealth

Now, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals’ Hearing and Communication Clinic (HCC) uses telehealth to provide in-depth assessments of children’s hearing impairments. Through a two-hour virtual visit with a multidisciplinary team, the HCC creates a detailed plan for how best to optimize a child’s hearing health, and how to implement the plan in the child’s own local community.

Families report high levels of satisfaction with the telehealth platform, since they can have the visit in the comfort of their own home without needing to travel.

The HCC assessment includes participation by pediatric otolaryngologists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists. A specially trained social worker is also part of the team to provide follow-up liaison to the local school system. In-person follow-up visits can be arranged subsequently for medical/surgical care, audiologic management and speech-language evaluation and therapy.

Conditions seen at the center include all forms of educationally significant, long-term childhood hearing impairment, including:

  • Congenital and acquired sensorineural hearing loss
  • Aural atresia/microtia
  • Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder

Cochlear implant recipients are also seen at the center for periodic evaluations and troubleshooting.

Hearing loss is the most common sensory impairment in childhood, affecting one of every 300 newborns. By age nine, that rate is one in 100 children since some hearing impairments develop over time.

To make an appointment at the HCC, contact Jenny Stephans at [email protected] or (415) 353‍-‍2012.