// By Jane Weber Brubaker //
In our self-service, digitally enabled world, healthcare consumers wonder why they can’t do something as basic as scheduling an appointment online. Today, ignoring patient demands for access and convenience can be a costly mistake, resulting in low satisfaction scores, or worse, losing out to competitors who pay closer attention.
A few years ago, Clinical Care Associates (CCA) decided it was time to act. CCA is Penn Medicine’s employed primary and specialty care physician group serving the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region, with more than 50 practices.
“The feedback we had heard was, ‘Hey, I can go book my airfare online, why do I have to call your office to book an appointment?’” says Steve Bisha, CCA’s Director of Operations.
Around the same time Bisha recognized the problem, he was introduced to an online scheduling application, DocASAP, in what he attributes to timing and “happenstance.” “DocASAP at the time was new to the market with this kind of application,” says Bisha. “They were willing to work with us, and we provided some valuable feedback to them.” CCA also considered ZocDoc, but ruled it out. “It didn’t provide the customization that we were interested in, and they were fairly cost prohibitive,” he says.
The big win for CCA was giving new patients the ability to schedule appointments online, and giving all patients the convenience of booking appointments through multiple channels. “The electronic medium is a huge satisfier because the patient can go in and find out when there is an available appointment and schedule it to meet their convenience,” says Bisha.
Most health systems have online scheduling capability for existing patients through patient portals, but new patients may still have to call for an appointment. When health systems make it easy for any patient to schedule an appointment online, they reap the rewards: more new patients, and more satisfied patients. Here, we’ll see how CCA, using DocASAP, improved satisfaction, increased patient volume, and expanded supply to meet the increased demand for appointments.
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