Lack of physician buy-in hinders hospitals’ deployment of self-scheduling technology

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Patient demand for user-friendly tools is growing as Americans want their healthcare providers to deliver the same seamless experiences they get from other industries like banking and retail.

Implementing self-scheduling software that allows patients to self-book their appointments online is a crucial step in the right direction. Many healthcare systems are trying to take this step, but lack of buy-in from doctors is preventing the technology from taking off, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center for Connected Medicine, which is jointly operated by Nokia and UPMC.

Physicians should embrace the idea as soon as possible if they want their patients to be satisfied with their care journey, said Dr. Joon Lee, executive vice president of UPMC. He noted that the demand for self-planning tools — especially among millennials and Gen Z — far exceeds the number of self-planning services that healthcare providers currently offer.

Some vendors offering this type of software include Keona Health, Elation Health, and NextGen Healthcare.

For Dr. Lee, the self-scheduling software not only responds to patient requests for more user-friendly tools, but it also communicates respect for patients’ time.

“If you rewind five or 10 years and ask what a truly successful doctor looks like, the picture is of a doctor with a waiting room full of patients,” he said. “What’s wrong with this photo?” This means that you expect each of these patients to give up on their own priorities and that their time will not be as valuable as yours.

Yet doctors are hesitant to buy the software. The Center for Connected Medicine report found that 38% of healthcare providers working to deploy self-planning tools cite lack of physician or organizational buy-in as their top challenge.

One of the main reasons for this could be doctors’ reluctance to give up control of their schedules. For many physicians, their schedule represents their last bastion of autonomy, said Dr. Patrick McGill, director of transformation for the Community Health Network of Indianapolis, on Tuesday. Transform the virtual vertex hosted by LeanTaaS. He said there is “nothing more sacred in health care right now than schedules”.

Key to convincing physicians will be software that is flexible and able to adapt to each vendor’s needs and preferences, Dr. Lee explained.

“If we have real-world technology, my ability to change the culture of vendors and people running offices will be nil,” he said. “But it’s a different story if the technology is smart and flexible and allows us to make changes in terms of day-to-day operations.”

Ensuring the adaptability of the self-scheduling software will be critical as UPMC strives to achieve its goal of achieving 20% ​​of its organization-wide scheduling via online self-service tools by the end of the year. Dr. Lee admits that this goal is ambitious, but he thinks it is a necessary element to improve patient satisfaction.

Photo: shapecharge, Getty Images

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