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Online scheduling improves patient engagement, satisfaction

A recent Accenture survey found that 77% of patients think that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important. The firm also predicts that by the end of 2019, about two-thirds of patients will be booking their appointments using digital self-scheduling tools.

Some health systems are ahead of the curve and are successfully offering scheduling and other options that help enable patients to take control of their health. In a recent success story, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group (San Diego, California, U.S.A.) shares its experience with the Allscripts FollowMyHealth® patient engagement platform.

“FollowMyHealth has given us a platform to respond to the reality that our patients want to do more with their own healthcare,” Patient Access Manager Michael W. Bachman, II, said.

Since adopting the certified portal in 2014, Sharp Rees-Stealy which is part of Sharp HealthCare, San Diego’s largest integrated healthcare system, has enrolled more than 190,000 patients. It has piloted online scheduling in several areas, including specialties, and sees an increasing number of patients participating every year.

While dashboards of charts help track metrics, Bachman admits that the stories of success are powerful in encouraging staff to advocate for the portal and patients to sign up. He shared one specific patient example of how online scheduling makes a big difference:

We’ve recently began online scheduling in specialty care. Health systems often fear to tread here because many specialty services involve scheduling multiple resources.


For instance, we have a 65-year-old patient who had a wellness visit with his primary care provider, who reminded him he was due for a colonoscopy.


In the old workflow, this physician would have handed the patient a paper referral and the patient would wait for a follow-up call from a gastroenterologist. Often that process could take weeks and could lead to a bad patient experience.


Now, the primary care provider is able to suggest that the patient schedule through FollowMyHealth. The day after his primary care appointment, the patient received an email from the gastroenterologist with education resources about the procedure and options to self-schedule. The patient scheduled the procedure himself a few days later.


Our patients not only want to take more of a role in scheduling their care, they demand it…FollowMyHealth laid the groundwork to respond to that demand with the right technology.


Bachman says he welcomes the day when the vast majority of appointments are online for its cost efficiency and patient satisfaction. “When we receive comments in patient satisfaction surveys about how direct scheduling saves patients time and frustration, it shows the positive consequences of the technology.”

To learn more about Sharp Rees-Stealy’s experience with FollowMyHealth, download a success story.

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