convenient access, with no login
Making things more user-friendly for doctors and patients at her seven-physician Greenwood, Colorado practice has always been a priority for Dr. Lynn Joffe. That’s why she was onboard to be among the first to adopt athenahealth’s Consumer Scheduling solution at DTC Family Health. The patient self-scheduling tool offers patients and prospective patients the opportunity to conveniently book appointments through DTC’s homepage — with no log-in required.
Putting herself in the shoes of her patients (or their parents, as the case may be) is important and familiar, since Dr. Joffe is a working mom. “Making medicine more efficient and making us more user-friendly for our patients has always been an interest of mine,” she said. Now her patients can avoid calling the office to book an appointment and simply secure an appointment time while on their phones at soccer games or on their laptop at home.
Reducing call volume, driving more appointments
The Consumer Scheduling channel has done more than add another convenient option for those seeking care to book appointments in addition to athenaOne’s patient portal, athenaCommunicator. DTC front-office staff have found their workload greatly reduced with a lower number of inbound calls coming into the practice. A year after adoption, Joffe said she’s likely not going to need to replace a full-time front-desk employee to manage call volume. “Scheduling issues are just not as burdensome as they were,” she said. “Any time we can reduce phone calls and allow patients to schedule appointments at any time day or night, patients really love that.”
Consumer Scheduling has supported scheduling volume for DTC prior to and during the pandemic. Rather than the drastic decrease in visit volume similar practices reported at the onset of the pandemic, DTC was able to stave off a downturn. “Around the time that COVID hit, we were sending out emails weekly,” Joffe explained. “The numbers improved significantly because we had links and the necessary information needed in the messages for patients to take action” — all without having to contact the practice directly.
Customizing and or modifying the Consumer Scheduling appointment types, along with available dates and times that patients can select is “seamless.” Plus, making changes as to what appears online for their selection options is easy, Dr. Joffe said. That was pivotal in March and April, when DTC’s appointments went entirely virtual due to COVID-19. They were able to alter options “on a dime” and tweak the available appointment type to just telehealth. Transitioning to telehealth was easy too, said Dr. Joffe, because Consumer Scheduling is completely integrated with athenaOne.
Dr. Joffe sees Consumer Scheduling assisting with increasing healthcare access for patients post-pandemic, especially as there may be fewer primary care practice options. “I think Consumer Scheduling will make access to care a lot easier. There’s a ton of potential for our practice,” she said.
Any time we can reduce phone calls and allow patients to schedule at any time day or night, patients really love that.