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4 Steps to Make Online Scheduling a Reality at Your Health System

Digital | Patient Experience | Patient Access | Change Management | Online Scheduling

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In a recent study, over 2/3 of patients reported that they are more likely to choose providers who offer the ability to book appointments online.1 And while health systems recognize this demand and see the clear benefits to offering online scheduling, developing an effective strategy is easier said than done. In fact, on our recent webinar, Katie Logan, VP of Experience at Piedmont Healthcare, acknowledged that their first run at implementing online scheduling didn’t produce the results they had wanted. Achieving the positive impact–on their business and their patients–they’ve seen with online scheduling today required Piedmont to take a new approach, one that put the patient and their journey at the center.

To help set your team up for success from the start, here are a few key steps we’ve found effective in our work implementing online scheduling at several organizations:

1. Engage clinical and operational stakeholders early: A successful scheduling implementation requires engagement from a variety of stakeholders across your organization. Before beginning the implementation, socialize the project with key leaders from your technical (IT and patient data subject matter experts), operational (e.g. practice managers and schedulers) and clinical teams (e.g. clinical champions, department chairs, and providers) to ensure organizational alignment. As we heard from Piedmont, going on roadshows was important to share their vision for online scheduling and gain buy-in.

2. Start with a single department or group: Providers may be wary of opening their schedule to the public. The best way to convince them of the benefit of online scheduling is to show success with their peers. Find a group of providers that may be more willing to participate in the first wave of online scheduling. Are there providers who participate in other patient access or digital innovation initiatives? By kicking off the first wave of implementation with a group of providers willing to engage in online scheduling, you can inspire confidence  to help you scale to the larger organization.

3. Standardize scheduling templates: Often times, there is high variation across multiple provider scheduling templates, making it difficult to display consistent visit types across a department. Furthermore, some providers have complicated restrictions, varying visit durations, or blocks on their scheduling templates, limiting what can be displayed online and restricting patient access. Start with providers who have a higher level of standardization, and share that success with additional providers as you scale.

4. Understand what success looks like at your organization: Identify the key metrics that will help you communicate the value of online booking to clinicians and executive leadership and gather baseline metrics ahead of implementation. These metrics allow you to quantitatively show the positive impact of online scheduling, which can help your organization scale to additional providers. For example, Piedmont now sees 3,000+ online appointments booked each week–1/3 of which are scheduled by new patients. This data was instrumental in gaining buy-in from additional cohorts of providers who were initially hesitant to have their schedules online.

To learn more about key considerations for building and implementing online scheduling, including how to drive organizational alignment, download our new guide. 

1 Accenture. Today's Consumers Reveal the Future of Healthcare, 2019.