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Research

10 Steps to Centralized Scheduling

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Centralized appointment scheduling can help medical groups improve patient access and accomplish financial goals, but scheduling reform is complex. Poorly planned initiatives risk wasted resources and threaten clinician and staff engagement.

Our 10-step guide leads you through the three phases of a successful centralization process: establishing network-wide goals and leadership, identifying needed infrastructure, and rolling out scheduling services across practices.

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Anchor centralized scheduling efforts in network access goals

1. Establish leadership structure
Centralized scheduling efforts require dedicated leadership to navigate the accompanying challenges, including critical roles like a high-level steering committee and a day-to-day operations leader.

2. Ground efforts in existing performance
Current scheduling and access performance data can provide concrete evidence that the medical group needs scheduling improvements to achieve network access goals.

3. Engage physicians proactively
Ensure that clinicians have a strong voice in the redesign process and work to help them feel comfortable with the access center model.

Read more about steps 1-3 starting on p. 11

Establish infrastructure to support centralization

4. Ensure a common technology platform
Robust telecommunication systems and scheduling software are essential to support remote scheduling functionality and provide a “single source of truth” for assessing performance on access metrics.

5. Standardize visit types
Cross-network scheduling is not possible if every physician has a unique approach to scheduling patients. Start by standardizing and reducing the total number of appointment types used for scheduling by department or specialty level.

6. Develop network-wide guidelines for patient access.
Set clear expectations for and oversee scheduling protocols to ensure that efforts support network-wide access goals.

7. Select a decision-support model
To support successful centralized scheduling, medical groups must develop a more reliable decision-support model that multiple schedulers can consistently use with minimal training.

8. Determine scope and organization of scheduler roles
An organizational structure for schedulers is the final piece of infrastructure needed to implement centralized scheduling.

Read more about steps 4-8 starting on p. 16

Roll out scheduling service across practices

9. Break implementation into phases
Implementing centralized scheduling incrementally gives leaders a chance to address unforeseen challenges before they impact the entire medical group. Three common approaches medical groups use to to phase are by need, specialty, or region.

10. Implement a standardized practice-onboarding process
Develop a new practice onboarding process to standardize and streamline the process for remaining practices. The typical new practice onboarding process includes five main steps.

Read more about steps 9 and 10 starting on p. 23

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