Medical Scheduling Software 101
Breaking Down Medical Scheduling Lingo
If you are looking at medical scheduling software for your health system, you are in the right place. This guide will help you better understand this confusing landscape. Specifically, we will focus on role of technical integration. After reading this guide, you will know the best questions to ask vendors.
Let’s start by defining some key phrases. For example, you want to have the same definition of integration as your vendor. Otherwise your setup will be much more difficult.
This may sound trite, but I want to start with a definition of medical scheduling. There is a vendor of automated scheduling software I always see at trade shows. As a result, I always think they are QueueDr competitors. However, they focus on scheduling of physicians, not patients. Today we will be discussing scheduling patient appointments.
Integration is how two pieces of software work together. An integrated patient scheduling software pulls data from and pushes data into your health system’s schedule in your practice management solution. For example, QueueDr moves up a patient’s scheduled appointment when they claim an earlier one. That saves your front office staff from having to do it.
Healthcare automation can mean different things to everyone, it’s why we wrote a guide about it. In the guide, we define automation as working without human interaction or attention.
Health systems use medical scheduling software to improve patient access and shorten patient wait times. The term patient access can refer to two different functions. Be clear on which your health system wants to achieve. First, patient access can mean allowing patients to more easily see their doctors. An example of this is a scheduling software that automates the waitlist. Second, patient access can mean allowing patients to put appointments on the schedule. For example, a mobile app where patients can book appointments online for their doctors. This mobile app would enable patient appointments to be booked without a phone call, but not make it easier to see the provider. However, if their provider is not available for months, the app wouldn’t help improve patient experience.
Two Types of Integrations
There are two types of integrations for medical scheduling software. First, there is native integration into the practice management system. Second, there is is non-native integration. Native connections are done through the API. An example of native integration would be QueueDr. We connect directly with various electronic health records including Epic, Allscripts, Greenway, and athenahealth with signed contracts for all of them. We do this directly through their API. For each we answer out security questions, provide technical architecture, and make a business case.
Non-native integrations use HL7 or third-party middleware to connect. As a result, these frequently require installation of third party software and mapping of data fields. Non-native integrations haven’t been reviewed by the medical scheduling software companies. Second, these integrations lack stability due of the introduction of third party software. Thirdly, non-native connections slows the pace of innovation as the DoD has found. Finally, non-native connections aren’t real time. For example, many health systems find that they their appointment reminders haven’t reduced no shows. That’s because front office staff find out who cancelled and have to manually cancel the appointment in the practice management solution. The staff cancel the patient appointment late and mark it as a patient no show even though they were cancelled beforehand!
Pros of Native Integrated Medical Scheduling Software
Native integrations have many inherit advantages over non-native integrations. First, your EHR company have vetted the solutions for high level security risks and business viability. Second, these connections are faster to setup and easier to implement. Further, they are more stable because there are fewer pieces to the integration. Finally, the connection is instant because there is no middle layer.
Why Choosing The Right Medical Scheduling Software is Vital
Choosing the best medical scheduling software can be a competitive advantage for health groups. The right tools make the patient experience better, make front office staff more productive, and improve revenue cycle management. Native integration is a vital part of making sure your health system has an easy, secure, and stable experience.