Skip to content

Medical Contact Centers: The Secret To 30% Less Scheduling Calls


August 28, 2023

Why you’re failing at patient self-scheduling 

You’ve likely tried everything. Over-hiring, relying on traditional call-in scheduling, implementing a generic online booking system. Nothing works. 

And let me guess: You're plagued by stressed out staff, debilitating wait times, and endless no-shows. Oh, and scheduling errors. Lots and lots of scheduling errors.

There is a solution: patient self-scheduling. Patient self-scheduling annihilates all of these problems and reduces your appointment calls by 30%. 

But for self-scheduling to work, you must do a few things first.

Imagine you have a big puzzle to solve, but you're trying to do it in the dark. You might think that if you had more friends to help, it would be easier. But if everyone is still in the dark, it just gets more confusing.

This is the situation call center leaders face when they try to improve scheduling—and it’s why generic online scheduling never works. It’s also why hiring more staff won’t solve your scheduling problems.

Generic patient self-scheduling solutions yield 5% improvements in call volume. That’s it.  

Actually, the average is even worse than that. According to Accenture, only 2.4% of all visits are scheduled online.

You don’t have to be average. You can achieve 7x – 12x that number.  

Orthopedics, for instance, is a specialty with deeply complex appointments. But when EmergeOrtho implemented the self-scheduling principles I cover this article, they saw 10 more visits per week for most locations. One location, Burlington, saw 7-10 more visits per day. And all of this was without hiring any new scheduling staff.

Self-scheduling transforms efficiency and service quality. Here's how:

  1. Powerful productivity and reduced overhead: By empowering patients to schedule their own appointments, healthcare organizations dramatically reduce call volume and workloads. This allows administrative staff to focus on other critical tasks, which turbocharges efficiency.

  2. Exceptional patient experiences: Self-scheduling gives patients the convenience and control they want. They can choose appointment slots that fit their schedule, which reduces the likelihood of no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

  3. 24/7 accessibility: Unlike a traditional office that operates during specific hours, self-scheduling is available round-the-clock, whether patients are at the airport, at their office, or in an Uber. This on-demand convenience greatly boosts patient satisfaction.

  4. Fewer scheduling errors: Automated scheduling systems reduce the risk of human mistakes, which means less double bookings and overlooked appointments.

  5. 100% staff utilization: Your staff, because the weight of time-consuming busywork is off their shoulders, are more dynamic. This improves care and reduces burnout.

Self-scheduling & the Patient Access Model 

Remember that puzzle we talked about? Well, what if you had a super cool flashlight that not only lights up the puzzle but also helps you perfectly see where each piece fits? Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

When it comes to patient self-scheduling, this flashlight is the Patient Access Model {link to Patient Access Model webinar}. Without utilizing the Patient Access Model, you will get only minimal gains from patient self-scheduling.

The Patient Access Model streamlines your scheduling process by conquering clinical complexity. The Patient Access Model has transformed countless healthcare call centers from rudimentary to cutting-edge:

The Patient Access Model is a healthcare management approach that focuses on convenience, responsiveness, and patient satisfaction. It is specifically designed to make scheduling simple for both your staff and patients. 

There's no reason to work patient access out on your own. I've already done all the work for you. There's no need to scratch your head in frustration or be stuck “half-way.” The Patient Access Model is tailor-made to vanquish clinical complexity—the one thing holding you back from scheduling success.

And the Patient Access Model works even if…

You think your budget is too tight to invest in new systems. Imagine this: you're poring over spreadsheets, trying to figure out where you can cut costs, and feeling the pressure of every dollar. The Patient Access Model is designed to maximize the efficiency of your existing resources, which saves you money in the long run.

You believe your scheduling process is too complicated to be automated. You’ve likely had countless hectic mornings—your staff scrambling to handle last-minute changes—and the schedule looking like a game of Tetris gone wrong. The Patient Access Model is designed to handle even the most complex scheduling scenarios, which brings order to the chaos.

You're afraid your staff will resist the change. Visualize the worried faces, the hesitant questions, the reluctance to let go of familiar routines. The Patient Access Model is intuitive and easy to use, and with the right training and support, your staff can quickly adapt.

You think your patients prefer traditional methods. Envision the long queues, the frustrated patients, the appointments missed because a call couldn't get through. Patients love the convenience and control of self-scheduling, and the Patient Access Model makes it easier than ever.

You're worried about the transition period. You see the potential for errors, the learning curve, the temporary disruption to your workflow. However, with careful planning and a phased rollout, the transition to the Patient Access Model can be smoother than you think. 

The Bottom Line: Regardless of the intricacies of your organization, you can utilize the Patient Access Model. Let’s dive into how to apply the Patient Access Model to your self-scheduling system.

How to leverage the Patient Access Model & Care 360 to create a cutting-edge patient self-scheduling system

#1: Modify your workflows for patients.

Before making any changes, it’s essential to understand what alterations are needed in your current scheduling process. Identify bottlenecks and pain points, which will be needed to configure your Care 360 system. Care 360 refers to a holistic database that aggregates information from three sources: Patient 360 data (medical history, demographics, accessibility needs), Provider 360 data (scheduling preferences, specialties, practice patterns), and Practice 360 data (locations, hours, services).

#2: Configure your Care 360 system.

Configuring your Care 360 system requires mapping and organizing all of the data that will go into it. You must define visit reasons, set up the rules and limits needed for your providers, identify variations in your practice locations, and more. Use data from your EHR or PM to help accomplish this task. 

#3: Introduce the system to your patients.

Before you roll out your self-scheduling platform, educate your patients about it. You might send out emails, post flyers in your office, or use your website and social media platforms to spread the word.

#4: Conduct a soft-launch.

Consider doing a soft launch without marketing. Post the scheduling link to your website or email it to a list of existing patients to test the system and iron out any workflow issues before making it available to all patients. Gather feedback from these early users to make any necessary adjustments. 

#5: Market your self-scheduling system.

After testing and refining the system, market it. Put it front and center on all of your webpages. Create Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads that link to it. Include scheduling links in every email to patients, and conduct targeted email campaigns to increase awareness. 

#6: Monitor and adjust.

After implementation, continue to monitor the system's performance. Use feedback from both patients and staff to make any necessary adjustments. Remember, it may take some time for everyone to get used to the new system, but the benefits of improved efficiency and superior patient experiences will be worth it.

After launching your self-scheduling system, you can expect:

  • 30% reduction in call volume and more bookings: Typically, if our clients put 90% of their appointments online, we see 20% of all appointments self-scheduled within 6 months.

  • The bliss of a well-oiled machine: Imagine your office humming along smoothly, no frantic calls, no scheduling mishaps, just a seamless flow of patients coming in and out. By implementing patient self-scheduling with Care 360, you can turn that dream into reality.
  • A happier, less-stressed staff: Picture your staff, not bogged down with tedious manual scheduling, but free to focus on delivering top-notch care. This shift will electrify morale and productivity.

  • Happy and engaged patients: You’ll enjoy watching your empowered patients experience seamless self-service. And satisfied patients mean a successful practice.

  • Tranquility of fewer errors: Say goodbye to double bookings and missed appointments. You’ll significantly reduce scheduling errors and bring newfound peace to your operation.

  • Freedom of surplus time and resources: Time is a precious commodity in healthcare. Freeing your staff from manual scheduling processes means more time for patient care, strategic planning, and coffee breaks.

The Bottom Line

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Phone scheduling is thus certifiably insane.

Yet so many organizations cling to the same antiquated methods, furiously applying bandaid solutions to a broken system that’s hemorrhaging money and patients. Hiring more staff only invites more voices into the chaos. Generic self-scheduling succeeds only in placating leadership with an illusion of progress. 

The real solution is simply too radical to comprehend: What if you stopped controlling the uncontrollable? What if you put scheduling where it belongs—in the hands of your patients?

Madness, you say? Perhaps. But a customized self-scheduling system designed around your unique needs has a way of transforming madness into miracles.  

With a tailored system supported by the Patient Access Model, confusion evaporates into streamlined productivity. Costs plunge as schedules fill. Patients receive concierge-level service on their own terms. Staff, free of mundane tasks and phone jousting, unleash their talents where they matter most.  

In short, you get your practice back. Your people, your hours, your budget—all reallocated to the work that inspired your mission in the first place. 

The shackles of the status quo can only be broken once we dare to imagine what lies beyond them. Forget incremental progress; reclaim your practice's potential with a self-scheduling solution custom-built for this moment and this mission. Learn how tailored access transformed the unimaginable into inevitability for so many others. Open your mind to a new reality where people, not policies, drive your purpose.

To learn more about the biggest challenges facing patient access and how to solve them ==>

Explore Staffing Resources Vault

Posted By

Stephen Dean

Stephen first built his career in information technology, working as a developer for Hewlett-Packard and several start-ups. He received his MBA from Duke before co-founding Keona Health, where he manages all facets of finance, marketing, and operations.

Related Post

December 3, 2020

healthcare is stunted trying to solve its access problem -- a problem that other...

August 20, 2020

telehealth has the tremendous potential of being faster and easier healthcare that...