Behind-the-scenes: patient care

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Behind-the-scenes: patient care
Behind-the-scenes: patient care

by Jacalyn Graber, Head of Operations

May 21st, 2019

When I first began working at Apostrophe in 2016 (back then, known as YoDerm), I was hired as a Care Coordinator. Fresh out of undergrad, I was excited to put my Health Policy and Management degree to work. The duties of this position were described as helping patients with operational issues, assisting doctors, checking in with pharmacies - your standard administrative duties. However, once I started, I realized the real bread and butter of the position was ensuring patients feel seen and heard.

On my first day, I anticipated a lot of patient questions about medication pricing and questions for the dermatologists (which did happen - and all questions are encouraged 😊). What I didn’t expect, however, were the amount of patients who reached out for encouragement. For instance, one young woman was concerned her skin wouldn't be clear in time for her birthday party. With a bit of support and a prescription-strength treatment plan, she was able to enjoy her day with glowing skin. I celebrated successes with each new patient, and was there to provide encouragement when treatment plans were taking a bit longer to work than expected. I made sure patients had agency over their health decisions, and facilitated dialogue between patients and dermatologists for expert advice. Whether your skin is having a major breakthrough, or you just received the shipment you had been eagerly anticipating – we will be there to celebrate alongside you. And if you are discouraged with your progress – we’ll help you through that as well.

Now, as Head of Operations, I take the feedback I’ve heard from patients to refine our guiding principles for patient care.

1. Your care is accessible. Speaking to your Care Team should never be difficult. We want to make it easy for you to get in contact with your dermatologist or a Care Coordinator for any questions or updates you may have. We’re always happy to chat on the phone and strive to respond to messages as quickly as possible. We’ve even introduced a chat feature so you can chat live with a Care Coordinator on our website 😊. Plus, we pride ourselves on our quick response times: on average, we receive over 750 messages a week. Last month, the Care Coordinators responded to 40% of patient messages within an hour of receiving them, and 84% of messages within 24 hours.

2. Your care is personal. Like your treatment plan, your care should be personalized. If you need help obtaining a particular medication, we are happy to help you get what you need. If you prefer to call and have us reach out to your dermatologist on your behalf, we can do that too. We tailor our method of communication to fit your needs.

3. Your care is well-coordinated. It’s no secret that the healthcare industry can be a difficult field to navigate – that’s where the Care Team comes in. We will help coordinate all aspects of your care, from helping you create your Patient Account online, to ensuring your prescription is delivered to your door. There is no step of the process that we are unable or unwilling to help with, so please use us!

4. You have agency in decision-making. Our expert dermatologists stand behind the age-old medical principle, "Do no harm.” They craft treatment plans with your health and safety in mind, and will only prescribe medications they believe will benefit your health. We want to ensure patients are well-educated on their medicine and treatment plan, but we leave the final decision up to you. No one knows your body like you do. Your voice is important, so please share what you have tried in the past, what you are interested in, and how your plan is working for you.

Good patient care is the foundation of a successful healthcare operation. This principle goes beyond medicine and prescriptions, and is rooted in the empathy the staff has for its patients. Patients should focus on their health, and let us worry about the details. Apostrophe isn’t just about keeping patients healthy, it’s about keeping them happy as well.

Jacalyn is Head of Operations at Apostrophe. Since 2016, her focus at Apostrophe has been on healthcare access and patient hospitality. She received her degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. She enjoys sheet masks, hiking and spoiling her cat, Roxie.

Welcome to the fine print! Just so you know, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. It’s always best to talk to a doctor for that stuff.

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