Not all enterprise scheduling solutions are created equal.
Before highlighting the features that every health system should include when implementing an enterprise scheduling solution, it makes sense to level set on the topic. Using the term “enterprise” to describe a scheduling solution means that the system must be designed to access all venues of care across the full spectrum of a patient’s healthcare journey. This means consumers will be presented with an integrated scheduling platform that covers urgent care, routine appointments, and specialty practices, as well as lines of service that include diagnostic tests and vaccines.
Any system that fails to deliver this kind of breadth and depth should not be touted, promoted, or referred to as an enterprise scheduling solution.
An enterprise scheduling solution is designed to give healthcare consumers the same experience they get when they engage in e-commerce and other online interactions. By helping them find the right medical provider and venue of care at the right time, true enterprise scheduling helps build patient awareness and gives consumers the benefit of any time, anywhere convenience of use. An enterprise scheduling platform also enables health systems to attract new patients, retain existing ones, fill in schedule gaps, reduce no-show rates, and improve access to care
When choosing an enterprise scheduling solution, some health systems might not be aware of all the features the system should entail, or they could choose to move ahead with an incomplete option that will frustrate patients and reduce conversions resulting in lower patient acquisition rates and reduce patient loyalty. The following will help health systems better understand the most important things to contemplate when selecting a scheduling solution.
Integrate and Customize Scheduling to Optimize Efficiency
A true enterprise scheduling solution delivers a branded look and feel to create a consistent patient experience across the health systems digital brand. Integrations are also key to creating a consistent experience and also allow health systems to optimize efficiency and productivity by integrating with their electronic health records (EHR), customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, and revenue cycle management (RCM) systems. By integrating enterprise scheduling into existing EHR, CRM, and RCM platforms, health systems can optimize efficiency, reduce errors, coordinate complex care flows, and generate greater scheduling accuracy. Additionally, health systems should be able to customize the patient experience by mirroring the logos, brand colors, and design language of their digital front door in their enterprise scheduling solution preferably via configuration over other costly approaches such as custom code.
Another key aspect of an effective enterprise solution is customizability – a platform that’s designed to be easily customized offers health systems flexibility, adaptability, and ease of maintenance. Health systems should be able to easily alter information collected during registration as well as create custom screening questions this ensures that health systems have all the information they need prior to the time an appointment occurs. This ensures patients are making the appropriate appointment in the right venue of care decreasing patient frustration with surprise bills or preventing physicians from seeing patients that are not properly aligned with their specialty.
Learnability is Key to Increasing Customer Uptake
In addition to features such as customizability and adaptability, which enable a health system’s platform to evolve over time, an enterprise scheduling system must also be learnable for users. If users can’t quickly figure out how to use an enterprise scheduling solution because of inferior design, its adoption rate will be negatively impacted.
By following the guidance of eye-tracking studies, the solution should be designed to include features and functionalities that are similar to many of the most popular e-commerce sites. An intuitive, learnable website designed to follow F-shaped reading patterns includes a search tool at the top, filters on the left, and prominently placed calls to action, all of which help increase online patient conversions.
Use APIs to Create Entry Points to the Scheduling Solution on Your Website
A true enterprise solution utilizes an Application Programming Interface (API) to seamlessly integrate into a health system’s overall patient services ecosystem. APIs are used to facilitate scheduling by way of a user’s digital footprint (one’s traceable digital activities) by creating entry points to scheduling virtually anywhere online. For example, if a patient is visiting a health system’s FAQ page and is viewing information about flu shots, API technology can be used to display on that page where nearby vaccine clinics are located as well as currently available appointments that can be booked with a simple click or two. Without having to navigate to the scheduling page of a website, the patient has obtained the answer to their FAQ, booked their flu shot appointment, and then moved on with their day.
Accreditation, Data Security, and Scalability
Given the highly sensitive nature of the EHR information that is processed and stored in an enterprise scheduling system, it is also crucial for health systems to partner with a company that is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A scheduling solution that is certified by the ISO, the international information security standard, has met ISO requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system. Although ISO 27001 certification does not guarantee a system’s security is foolproof, it would be foolhardy for any health system to establish an unaccredited enterprise scheduling solution.
In the search for the right enterprise solution some health systems might be drawn to the allure of working with an upstart that offers affordability. In some cases, a company might even choose to team with a partner that offers a scheduling solution at no charge. While a free Netflix trial or a free credit report might be beneficial to millions of consumers, a health system should carefully consider housing highly sensitive patient data and daily scheduling management in a solution that costs nothing.
And if you choose to partner with a company has been in business for months versus decades and has virtually no history of maintaining a scheduling solution and keeping data safe as its clients operate at scale… well, caveat emptor.
About Skip Hanson
As EVP of Service Delivery at Carenet Health, Skip Hanson leads the operations, product, and client success teams that support the company’s communication solutions business. Skip is an experienced operational leader with over 30 years of experience leading teams across various business functions during start-up, high-growth, and mature company phases. He has deep experience in the BPO and technology sectors including executive leadership roles at Mosaic, West, and Anderson Consulting. Before joining Carenet, Skip was SVP of Strategic Alignment at Mosaic and prior to that was the President of West Interactive Services where he strategically repositioned the business from selling a “technology” to becoming a “customer experience” business.