September 21, 2018

Why Streamlining Appointment Scheduling Is a Win-Win for Patients and Clinicians

Written by
Gina Williams

Care coordination between patients and providers is oftentimes initiated at the appointment desk. The amount of interactions and frequency between patients and physicians can create a storm of poor communication and care. Introducing an imperfect or overly complex scheduling system can lead to breakdowns in communication. The cost of insufficient care coordination can quickly snowball and hurt both patients and providers.

When care is poorly coordinated, the patient and provider relationship can suffer, creating an overall negative healthcare experience, even discouraging patients from staying with a facility. Repeat testing and poor management of acute and chronic conditions are a few of the expensive mistakes healthcare providers and patients could make without the proper scheduling tools and communication in place.

A survey of healthcare experiences by The Commonwealth Fund examined how the complex nature of the U.S. healthcare system can complicate matters of care coordination. 11 high-income countries were surveyed, reporting that the United States respondents had the largest percentage of poor primary care coordination at 9.8%, 4.6% above the overall average.

While there is little a provider can do about the organization of the U.S. healthcare system, improving communication, reducing human error in care coordination, and consolidating systems are best practices for scheduling appointments. In 2018, a study published by the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative noted how excellent care coordination not only creates a positive patient experience, but also works to reduce business costs.

Providers Can Benefit from Healthcare Consumerization

In this new era of consumer-focused healthcare, patients are simultaneously demanding and expecting more of their healthcare providers. As patients seek more control over their health, healthcare systems must in turn find creative and appealing solutions to meet their needs.

The rise in innovation launched by healthcare consumerization benefits more than patients—although that’s certainly a desired component. It also helps the nurses, physicians, and staff working in any given healthcare environment do their jobs better and more efficiently.

Enabling healthcare systems to deliver more sophisticated care coordination can be a win-win for patients and clinicians. With more streamlined care protocols and scheduling capabilities, patients can be kept compliant and avoid unnecessary visits, while providers can schedule follow-up appointments or upcoming procedures across the patient’s chain of care.

4 Ways Appointment Scheduling Benefits Providers

Appointment scheduling offers the following simplified and streamlined benefits to healthcare systems and patients:

Minimizes time and effort

Sophisticated care coordination allows providers and consumers to immediately schedule and request services across the healthcare continuum. This makes the appointment process more convenient and efficient for patient and provider.

Reduces follow-ups

Patients with more fragmented care have more than twice as many PCP visits as those with better care coordination. Also, insufficient care coordination routinely results in patients who fail to adhere to recommended protocols, which negatively affects compliance.

Prevents patients seeking out or being referred out of network

As patients receive more efficient and effective qualities of care, the likelihood of patient leakage decreases.

Increases revenue

By keeping patients within a single system of care, healthcare systems can expect to see increased revenues follow as a result.

The ability to integrate a more refined appointment scheduling system not only can create a more efficient patient experience but also eases the workflow and administrative burden for hospitals and clinicians.

Appointment scheduling services offer users the ability to schedule hospital and clinic visits, allowing the option to send referrals to physicians or another hospital or clinic for service. Other services include the option to request surgery appointment times from hospital to hospital, the ability to facilitate transfers from one facility to another, and even the option for patients to put themselves into emergency department waiting queues at the hospital of their choice

Gina Williams is MEDHOST’s Senior Product Manager with over twenty years of experience in software development and customer relationship management in the healthcare industry. She has a proven product management track record with an aptitude for leading diverse innovative products that facilitate interoperability and consumer engagement. She has been critical in developing its community scheduling product and integrating with MEDHOST’s Consumer Engagement platform.