The primary goal of a scheduling system is to give patients access to the full schedule so they can compare your availability to theirs and make the best decision for what their days allow without having to speak to a human. Healthcare is one of the last industries that require patients to call for appointments, and it’s not an efficient use of staff time. Self-scheduling is an emerging tool in the healthcare software market. So, which scheduling system best accommodates the patient? The best tools make scheduling easy, remove the administrative burden from staff, and still give the practice the necessary control over their schedule to ensure that the schedule is always accessible and accurate.
One of the biggest hesitations to implementing a patient scheduling system into practice is the access that patients will have to the schedule. Practices and providers worry that patients will have unlimited access to schedule when providers aren’t available or when the office is closed. Your scheduling solution should allow practices who require it to have approval over any patient-initiated scheduling, so that the appointment doesn’t go onto the schedule until it is confirmed by a staff member. This ensures that staff still has full control over the schedule while reducing the time to schedule appointments from minutes to seconds.
Provider schedules change, and your scheduling solution should make accommodating that simple. Your patient scheduling system should have features that allow each provider to have a different schedule, and make changes to that schedule as simple as tapping a few buttons. This will ensure that, with or without appointment approvals, your day are always correct and that patients only have access to times when the provider is confirmed to be available.
Keeping healthcare safe has to be the primary goal of every technological solution that is introduced into the field. When new or existing patients are scheduling their own appointments, the practice still has a responsibility to ensure those patients are scheduled correctly. Your patient scheduling tool should have a triage tool that directs patients to the correct appointments and providers. Triage ensures that patients are scheduled for the appointments that their symptoms or situation is most appropriate for without requiring a person to walk them through the questions. Triage can be used to ensure that patients are safe to wait for an appointment, that they donÃ¢Â€Â™t need to be seen urgently at another location, or that they are scheduling with the correct location. Your triage solution should be robust and customizable to the needs of the organization.
A flexible patient scheduling tool should have the ability to manage multiple locations and multiple providers in each location. By integrating with the patient triage, patients should easily be able to select their provider, location and verify that they are scheduling in the correct location. The tool should require just a few taps from the patient but still direct them to the correct location for treatment and scheduling.
The scheduling tool isn’t complete if it requires double entry into the EMR or practice management system. If staff have to move scheduled appointments to another system, there isn’t a time savings over manually scheduling them via phone. Integrations are not one-size-fits-all solutions, however. The scheduling partner should have access to an arsenal of integration tools so that all organizations, from health systems to single provider practices, can find a tool that works for them. Not all scheduling integrations require a full, five-figure, HL-7 interface.
With the right scheduling partner, practices and organizations can ensure that their schedule is correct, that patients have 24/7 access, and that providers are comfortable with the level of access provided to patients. Self-scheduling doesn’t mean handing over full control to patients, but it does mean moving the burden of managing the schedule from an overworked team who manage thousands of patients to a server with unlimited capacity. Staff can then be reallocated to more important tasks that better support the organization.