Automated appointments help physician practice fill its patient schedule, save staff time

doctor time efficiency
An automated schedule is helping one practice fill cancelled patient appointments.

A program that automates patient schedules has made a difference for one Massachusetts multispecialty practice.

Last year, Valley Medical Group, an 86-physician practice in Amherst, adopted an automated program to help fill last-minute patient cancellations, according to Diagnostic Imaging. The result? The practice has filled an average of more than 60 cancellations each month and saved 16 administrative days of work, since staff are not spending time trying to reach patients to fill open spots on the schedule. Average appointment times for patients who use the automated program have also been reduced by two weeks.

“Your patients are going to really like it,” Martha Mastroberti, healthcare informatics manager, told the publication.

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RELATED: Automated phone notifications engage patients, boost follow-up care

With the automated system, the practice’s reception coordinators no longer have to monitor the appointment schedule, then go to a patient waiting list to try to fill an opening when a patient cancels an appointment. Now the automated system looks for patients scheduled for a future appointment and sends them a text message. The first patient who responds is moved to the open appointment.

Automated systems are also allowing providers to encourage patients to schedule follow-up tests. For instance, Louisiana-based Ochsner Health System uses an automated phone notification system to get patients to schedule colon cancer screenings. Newport Orthopedic Institute in Newport Beach, California, is using automated daily emails to help guide patients from surgery prep to recovery.

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