Guest Column | February 5, 2018

Why It's Time To Adopt Self-Scheduling

By Mary Tackbary, National Director, Health Plans at MyHealthDirect

For the last few years, the healthcare industry has started to embrace self-scheduling technology. In order to improve efficiency and stand out in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive marketplace, the smartest health organizations are providing digital systems and tools for patients to seek, book, change and cancel their own care appointments. Based on an Accenture survey, 77 percent of patients view self-scheduling as an important offering, and by the year 2019, nearly 66 percent of health systems will have adopted the practice.

The writing is on the wall, self-service technology has infiltrated nearly every other vertical than healthcare – and the pressure is mounting. Consumer expectations are demanding self-service options, and change is coming. The approach of “we’ve always done it this way and it works well enough” is not going to cut it much longer.

As the Accenture study indicates, we are on the verge of a tipping point, where self-service technology will become the norm for healthcare in a matter of just a few years. Healthcare organizations that plan for this new future and prepare their systems now will find success when the inflection happens. Those who wait will suffer the consequences of poor member engagement and lower quality scores, with the added costs of trying to play catch up late in the game.

Here is a closer look at the top four reasons why now is the time to adopt self-scheduling technology.

  1. Create a better member experience. Self-scheduling enables groups to differentiate themselves to their members and truly call out their consumer experience focus with something tangible and transformative for the member’s experience. Convenience is key in this day and age and the first step to starting a positive relationship with every customer.
  2. Protect providers’ calendars with business rules. Implementing customized business rules to match providers’ workflows is an essential way to ensure that self-scheduling is successful for both members and providers. Business rules empower online scheduling and provide an immense improvement to their efficiency. In short, they ensure that the bookings are accurate and convenient within providers’ schedules.
  3. Close gaps in care with less effort. Enabling real-time scheduling into your network providers can vastly improve outreach efforts in several ways from more efficient email campaigns with a “schedule now” button to helping call center agents source providers and book in real time. In fact, the ability to schedule members with care gaps in real-time unlocks greater scalability and efficiency. In our experience, we have seen 5x more closed gaps in care when using a digital care coordination solution.
  4. Engage your narrow network. Making it easy for members to stay within network benefits both the member and the payer. The end result for the member is comprehensive care management. The payer benefits by guiding patients to their best quality, high value providers – resulting in better outcomes and overall reductions in medical costs.

Healthcare plans and providers have been making great strides over the last few years at incorporating new technology and providing online services to drive member satisfaction. Making them actionable with self-scheduling is the next step to truly differentiate them with employer groups. With 77 percent of consumers noting their preference to have the option for online appointment booking, now is the time to make scheduling easy and meet consumer demand.

About The Author

Mary is the National Director, Health Plans at MyHealthDirect. She brings more than 20 years of healthcare experience and previously held leadership positions at Eliza Corporation, LexisNexis and Change Healthcare. She is a subject matter expert in member engagement and quality for government programs (HEDIS/STARS). Mary is a RN, MSN from the University of Cincinnati.