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Online check-in helps load-balance patient arrival volume

Patient volume shifted to an underutilized urgent care campus with better capacity to handle spillover
CUSTOMER PROFILE
Hospital-affiliated urgent cares
LOCATION
Massachusetts
CUSTOMER SINCE
2017
PRODUCTS USED
GOALS
Shift patient volume from busier campus to less busy campus in order to reduce wait times. Also within each campus, the goal was to move the high number of early arrivals to late morning.
OBSTACLES
Patients tended to overcrowd a Charlton, MA facility in the mornings before 10:00 am and underutilize the newest location in Oxford, MA which was further from the center of town.
RESULTS
After launching the program and collecting patient feedback, the majority of patients surveyed indicated that they would have come in earlier had they not checked in online.

Challenge

The urgent care practice leaders and medical director wanted to reduce wait times by alleviating bottlenecks in the patient arrival times. They had been dealing with bottlenecks in two situations: First, patients tended to visit the older Charlton, MA campus much more heavily due to its central location and the fact that the other available facility had only recently opened. As a result, Charlton campus had longer wait times, while the newest facility in Oxford, MA, a 20 minute drive away, was under-visited despite its shorter wait times. Prior to online check-in, patients had no way of knowing about Oxford’s shorter wait unless they called both locations to check.

The second challenge is that patient arrivals clustered around the early morning hours at the Charlton location and then died down after 10:00 am. Staff sometimes had a line outside when they opened the doors which caused frustration for both staff and patients.

Solution

To address this challenge head-on, the urgent care leaders needed to find a way to smooth out the peaks and valleys in arrivals and create visibility around wait times at both locations. They turned to the Check-in Express tool from ER Express in hopes that online patient scheduling would help solve their issues.

Increase visibility

The ER Express marketing team paired up with the urgent care to design a mobile-friendly landing page on their website for the online check-in service that would allow patients to essentially ‘comparison shop’ between locations by viewing the first available time they could be seen.

Redirect the flow

At both clinics, staff offered more check-in times during the usual daily lulls to move patients away from the surge times. Not only were patients given a convenient option to plan their visit on their schedule, but they were also directed to the facility with the most capacity to handle them, during the times of day when they were less busy.

Results

Since the leadership could now control the availability of time slots, the check-in system steered patients to choose times during less busy times of the day at the less busy campus. Direct patient surveys showed hard evidence that the online booking system directly impacted patient arrival times. For example, it had the greatest influence over patient arrival times on Sundays and Fridays, while influencing patients to adjust their arrival times to slots between 10:00 - 11:00 am and 12:00 - 2:00 pm. The majority of patients surveyed indicated that they would have come in earlier than their reservation had they ended up walking in instead, with 61% of check-in patients saying they would have come in earlier than the reservation time.

Additionally, online check-in helped patients plan out their visit. 24% of online reservations were booked the day before for next day visits while 52% of reservations were for late-morning arrival times.

Finally, online check-in proved to be a differentiator in the crowded urgent care marketplace. 39% of patients surveyed said that the convenience of the online check-in service influenced their decision to go to this particular urgent care over a competing health system / provider.

Now it’s your turn
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