MedNow, a 7-location urgent care + primary care practice led by Mark Newton, M.D., deployed the MedChat triage bot combined with ER Express’ online scheduling solution to screen and book patients for telehealth visits and COVID-19 testing.
“We have long made it a top priority to deliver high-quality, timely, and efficient care. MedChat along with ER Express allows MedNow Urgent Care to stay at the forefront of respecting our patients’ valuable time,” said Newton, practicing ER physician and founder & CEO of MedNow.
“When the county asked us to provide COVID-19 testing, we needed a way to screen and prioritize patients,” said Newton. “Our scheduling partner ER Express brought the MedChat triage bot to our attention. In just a few hours, we launched the triage bot tailored to our telehealth workflow.”
The triage bot screens patients to determine their individual level of risk based on Centers for Disease Control criteria. Medium- and high-risk patients are routed to schedule a telehealth screening through ER Express’ queueing software and, if appropriate, prioritized for testing. Patients with severe symptoms are triaged to nearby emergency departments. All patients can opt for a telehealth visit no matter their risk.
“Members of our communities want a way to know if they should be concerned for their health,” added Dr. Newton. “Offering the triage bot assessment reassures low risk individuals. The full protocol of triage bot, telehealth encounter and in-person testing maximizes the number of patients we can serve. As the protocol evolves, MedChat’s platform makes it very easy to change the bot’s screening criteria. We can now better deliver care to the patients who most need to talk to a provider and get tested. Like almost all counties, the demand for testing exceeds our capacity to test them all at once.”
In the first week, more than 600 patients screened themselves – many during off-hours. In the first weekend, more than 60% of high-risk patients scheduled a telehealth consult.
MedChat helps physician practices and other providers screen and triage patients quickly. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, practices primarily deployed MedChat to improve call response times, simplify scheduling, respond to billing questions, and handle other common patient inquiries. The chatbot and live chat platform became immediately useful for COVID-19 response because screening criteria and triage rules can be quickly adjusted as clinical guidance changes.
“We were already working with MedChat to deploy Schedule Bots for urgent care and emergency departments,” said Sahil Patel, founder & CEO of ER Express. “When COVID-19 hit, our clients asked for ways to assess patients, facilitate telehealth workflows and handle growing call volume, we immediately thought of MedChat. We are now deploying MedChat with several clients to triage patients, enable staff to work from home and alleviate the flood of inbound phone calls.”
“Won’t patients in my lobby get mad when someone checks in at home and then shows up in the lobby?”
Many health systems face a psychological barrier to offering online check-in: “I know the patients who use it will love the convenience. But I’m afraid it will make all of my other patients mad because they think someone skipped the line.”
Our display board technology, which shows all patients in the lobby their place in line, now comes pre-loaded with a promotional ad that rotates in every 10 seconds.
This pre-installed ad:
This ad educates your patients on where they can find the online check-in option, helping to spread the word on its convenience. It also helps reduce the anxiety that walk-in patients may feel when they hear or see a patient enter the waiting room and announce “I made an online reservation.” It helps manage patient expectations and reduce the perception that other patients “skipped the line.”
Missouri-based Freeman Health recently implemented online check-in and digital patient queuing in two of their urgent care clinics. Freeman’s ‘Save My Spot’ strategy aimed to reduce wait times and bring in new patient volume. The queuing system automates patient expectations and gives staff much better control over influencing patient arrival patterns by throttling down time slots during their busiest hours and opening up slots during typically slower parts of the day.
Delivering new patient volume
Freeman Urgent Care Director Kayla Martinez summarizes the appeal of Save My Spot for her patients as something akin to “…call ahead seating at a restaurant, you can get your name in line and then do your waiting at home or in your office.”* Patients can plan out their visit at the time of day most convenient for them and avoid sitting in a waiting room when they’re not feeling well with other patients who may have contagious illnesses such as flu.
Patients immediately caught on to this idea. In the first two months:
Doubling the % of 5-star Google reviews
Freeman has also seen an immediate uptick in positive Google reviews. Patients consistently praised the convenience of the service. ER Express’ reputation management feature elicits patient feedback via SMS text and then prompts the happiest patients to share their feedback on Google. Good reviews based on the convenience of the service, as well as the use of our built-in text survey which prompts the happiest patients to leave their feedback on the Google for the facility they visited, have started rolling in as well. Case in point, Freeman Urgent Care at Webb City received three new 5-star Google reviews in a 24-hour period following the online check-in go-live. Summary of the stats**:
Here’s a preview of the good things patients had to say:
Getting the word out: digital marketing + local news + traditional signage
Freeman’s marketing team launched a very effective campaign to publicize Save My Spot in its community by combining digital promotion, local news reach and street side signage.
The full embrace by Freeman’s operational and clinical leaders combined with a savvy marketing campaign points to future increases in new patient volume, 5-star Google reviews, and overall usage of the online check-in service.
**As of 2/19/2020; based n patient reviews posted for Freeman’s Webb City clinic
We’re pleased to announce our latest EHR integration with the Aprima practice management system at MedNow, a multi-facility urgent care / primary care based in the Augusta, GA. After piloting Check-in Express + Walk-in Express at one location, MedNow is expanding its rollout to help increase patient volume, reduce manual data entry for registration staff and smooth out patient flow.
Aprima bi-directional integration
MedNow’s implementation features a fully automated bi-directional integration with their EMR, Aprima (recently acquired by eMDs). As a result, the program has:
The bi-directional integration automatically writes patient arrivals into Aprima and matches existing patients to their medical record number. It also reads workflow updates, (for example, how many patients are in the lobby, at triage, ready to discharge, etc.) to automatically space apart treatment times based on surges in the real-time census.
ER Express worked closely with Aprima’s technical team and Redox Engine, our integration partner.
A well-rounded marketing effort
MedNow’s third-party marketing agency took most of the marketing efforts into their own hands with the advice and assistance of the ER Express marketing team to create a robust campaign and website integration that has already had up to 15% of patients checking in online in the first month of go-live. Among the many avenues they used to get the word out, including social media posts, in-lobby standing posters and tent cards, they also created a commercial for the online check-in service.
MedNow followed many of our best practice recommendations for their website, making it a great example for future clients. Not only is the online check-in service uniquely branded as MedNow Express and extremely visible on the home page with more than one point of access, but their landing page for the service features a helpful interactive map that displays the relative locations of all the participating facilities and their first available check-in times. In keeping with our best practices, the landing page also features the what, why, and how of online check-in so patients are well educated about the service before checking in.
All-in-all an excellent start with a great client! Stay tuned for our integration with MedNow’s Virtual Visit scheduling – a first for us.