Improving Patient Access in Urgent Care to Remain Competitive
By Tom Gordon, senior vice president and chief information officer, Virtua.
Virtua’s first and foremost priority is providing quality patient care, and providing easy and fast patient access is one of the first steps in ensuring that quality. Automating patient access would give them the easy and fast solution they wanted, and would give us the solution we were looking for. We decided to move forward with an online appointment scheduling system, which took roughly ten weeks to implement and was an easy and seamless transition.
First, we rolled online patient scheduling out for our primary care physicians. After its immediate success with patients booking appointments online, we expanded this to other areas of our health system, starting with our urgent care centers.
When you think about how you, as a consumer, want to schedule a service or appointment, you want to book it quickly and easily. Today, the preferred way to book an appointment is online. You do not want to be restricted by the time of day you book, and you want the ability to book it in as few steps as possible.
We worked with DocASAP, the online appointment scheduling solution provider, to develop urgent care workflows that patients would need to schedule an immediate appointment.
We want to make sure that patient’s experience is as easy, quick and comfortable as possible. In our urgent care centers, patients have the ability to check in online which allows them to jump into the queue to see an urgent care provider. Moving forward, patients will have the ability to check wait times after they book an appointment from their phone so that they can come at the appropriate time to receive immediate care. While this functionality exists in many industries, it’s a rarity in healthcare. The more we evolve with technology, the better we can provide timely and quality care to our patients.
As a result, Virtua has experienced these results in the seven months since going live:
- 46 percent of bookings done via mobile allowing patients to book appointments with a digital medium of their choice.
- 44 percent of bookings are after-hours providing 24/7 access to patients at a time that is convenient for them.
- 48 percent of appointments are booked within same day or next day allowing for immediate appointments for urgent care.