As COVID-19 vaccines are being shipped across the country, many models for delivery are being used, ranging from mass vaccinations at stadiums or the small waiting rooms of national pharmacy chains to the exam rooms of neighborhood doctor’s offices. Each strategy offers its own advantages and challenges.
For small and midsized physician practices, their biggest advantage is that they know their patients. They have established, trusting relationships. They are often close by, and they know how to reach out to their patients. Furthermore, they have knowledgeable staff who are prepared to handle delicate vaccines, maintain a safe environment, and maintain the necessary medical records.
But the COVID-19 vaccine also brings some unique challenges to small and midsize practices. Organizations get little warning of when vaccines will arrive and are under pressure to distribute the vaccines quickly. Once vaccines are received, the doctor’s offices must be prepared to schedule their patients quickly. And they must have a plan in place to vaccinate a large group of people while practicing social distancing and ensuring that 15 or 30 minute monitoring can be followed (an added protocol for COVID-19 vaccinations).
Patient Schedule Simplifies Online Appointments
Desert Ridge Family Physicians in Phoenix, AZ was recently tasked with these challenges. They received their first supply of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine during the first week of February and planned a mass vaccination clinic for the next weekend, focusing on their elderly patients. According to their plan, and based on the capacity within their office, they planned to distribute 700 vaccines over two days. Scheduling posed one of the largest problems. How could a staff of two or three phone receptionists book 700 appointments (and another 700 for their second doses) while balancing the normal scheduling needs of a busy family practice? Desert Ridge turned to Patient Schedule, a powerful online scheduling solution from InteliChart, the leader in patient engagement technology.
Patient Schedule is a web-based scheduling solution, integrated directly into the practice’s existing Electronic Health Records system. It offers an easy-to-use interface, allowing patients to choose the day and time of their appointment, while following the parameters set by the practice. InteliChart’s ease of use was a critical factor in their selection by Desert Ridge, knowing that it would need to be used by all levels of technological literacy.
Patient Schedule sets itself apart from other scheduling solutions with InteliChart’s API integration and configuration. Patient Schedule integrates directly to a provider’s practice management schedule and picks up all the scheduling criteria and logic, mirroring the practice’s scheduling rules. This simplifies online appointment scheduling, creating a seamless experience for patients, and helping providers keep pace with their ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“We implemented Patient Schedule, and within a week, our seniors had booked 1,200 vaccination appointments with very few problems,” said Dan Nelson, Chief Information Officer at Desert Ridge Family Physicians. “Patients scheduled their first dose for the coming weekend, and their second dose in March, all without needing to make a call or push a refresh button.”
A Flawless Process
Desert Ridge Family Physicians held their first mass vaccination clinics on February 13-14, making it an unusual Valentine’s Day weekend. In that first week, vaccinations were provided to just under 800 of their elderly patients, with the last of their initial doses slated for the following weekend. “Our vaccination clinics have been an amazing experience to take part in,” noted Nelson. “Our process worked flawlessly! Our patients were so thankful. It was really overwhelming to see the impact it had on our patients.”
Post-vaccination satisfaction surveys indicated the ease with which patients navigated online scheduling through Patient Schedule:
“My wife and I struggled and wasted a lot of time on the state website trying to get an appointment. We are in the 65-74 age group and found it very frustrating. Your process was almost too good to be true.”
“Thank you for making the vaccine clinic available to us! It was so easy to get an appointment for both the first and the second dose.”
“It was 100% easier to schedule my appointment than the one for the state or county web sites. Awesome job!”
Reflecting back, Nelson noted, “An untold number of obstacles had to be overcome to be successful. But the need is real, the responsibility is ours, and the urgency is now. The hard part is making it look easy.”
Nelson expressed gratitude for the all the vital links in the chain that made the success possible, including their amazing staff members and physicians, the pharmaceutical companies who made the vaccines, the government agencies and staff who organized a national rollout, and the supporting software companies who enable a small group of people to provide care to so many.
Solutions Working in Unison
Patient Schedule is one of eight solutions on InteliChart’s Healthy Outcomes® patient engagement platform. All eight solutions work in unison to deliver a consistent, positive experience for patients while giving providers the ability to maximize patient engagement and enhance patient management workflows.
About Desert Ridge Family Physicians
Desert Ridge Family Physicians offers comprehensive medical care treating a multitude of chronic medical conditions and acute illnesses for patients in the Phoenix, AZ area. Our physicians and staff are committed to working together with our patients as a team to make healthcare decisions that achieve optimal health. https://desertridgefp.com/
InteliChart delivers Healthy Outcomes, the market-leading, patient-engagement platform that helps providers attain superior patient outcomes. Industry-leading EHR vendors, hospitals, health systems and physician practices have selected InteliChart as their patient engagement platform, collectively representing over 50 million patients. We integrate with 30-plus EHR products and a single integration accesses all the solutions on our Healthy Outcomes platform. For more information, visit www.intelichart.com.