The buck stops here: why providers must take the initiative with patient scheduling

By Rick Halton, VP of Product & Marketing

The buck stops here” with scheduling. It is the lifeblood of the healthcare business, but all too often we “pass the buck”, and the initiative, to the patient, with little thought for the impact 

To give an example, Ms. Smith might need to see her doctor, so she calls the clinic patient access center, or uses their online scheduling tool to book her visit.  But, what if Ms. Smith needs to then cancel or change the appointment date?  What if she needs to have an MRI scan or blood test before thappointment?  What if she needs a follow up appointment to review her medications or progress?  Who is going to remember that, and then make sure she books these important appointments at the right time?  

Healthcare today, all too often, inappropriately passes the buck to the patient to take the initiative for schedulingwho often lacks the understanding of what, when and how to complete the task, or just forgets.  This is where the ball is dropped, the patient goes astray, and cracks appear in care.  So, wouldn’t it be more fitting for the provider to take the initiative and help Ms. Smith navigate her care journey?   

Thankfully technology is here to help too. We’re all familiar with automation — it’s about using software to perform tedious, repetitive tasks that humans don’t do well.  Automation takes the pressure off people. By reliably repeating and executing processes, removing the possibility of human error while also providing the ability to coordinate the sequence of activities – we call this care journey orchestration – automation is poised to help providers take the initiative to boost their revenues and patient volumes.  This approach is a simple way for health systems to navigate patients along their care journey and avoid them getting lost along the way. 

Orchestration involves the automation of dynamic sequence of tasks.  These tasks can be a sequence of self-scheduling events which are automatically triggered from the electronic health record, such as an appointment cancellation, no-show, imaging or test referral, routine examination or follow-up. 

Here are three powerful reasons why orchestration can become a game changer for your patient access and scheduling team: 

1. Orchestration enables the patient to take the initiative. With orchestration, the care journey is automatically triggered from the electronic health record (EHR) and scheduling system, prompting patients to self-schedule at the right timeFor example, Ms. Smith may forget about the need to make her MRI scan appointment, however, the orchestration platform will automatically notify and offer her appointment slots right to her mobile device.   

2. Orchestration enables the patient to sequence self-scheduling events. With the MRI scan appointment now scheduled, the care journey will check to see if aappointment has been scheduled, and at the right time, so the MRI results can be reviewed.  This approach is like choreographing an entire dance instead of just a single step.  

3. Orchestration puts patient care into context. Ms. Smith can be asked to complete a digital form regarding her health status.  The results can then be triaged automatically.  A clinician may then review the results and recommendations.  Now armed with this input, the clinician may trigger the orchestration platform to reach out and ask the patient to self-schedule an appointment to discuss the results. Another problem solved. 

In a recent Accenture study1, 50% of those interviewed said that a bad digital experience with the healthcare provider would ruin the overall experience. This highlights the need for Patient Access leaders to think more broadly about self-scheduling and the digital front door experienceYet, with only 11% of providers recommending digital tools to manage their health, we still have a long way to go. Those who are already leading the way are quickly reaping the benefits by freeing up their schedulers time, boosting patient volumes, and improving patient outcomes.  Find out how you can deliver superior self-scheduling here.