Monitoring Scheduling Errors: Making the Impossible Possible
In Patient Access, it is not uncommon to hear, "Central Scheduling schedules everything wrong!". As a central scheduling leader, it is difficult to combat that narrative without having the data to understand if there is truly a problem. At UT Southwestern, we were committed to finding a sustainable solution. A committee of physician, clinic, and access leaders came together to develop a workflow and a tool that allowed for quick, quantifiable reporting on scheduling errors or workflow problems.
Based on the recommendation of the committee, the tool utilized was the "Help Desk.". The ease of use was the main factor of choice; the tool resides within our EHR system (EPIC). Reporting a concern takes less than a minute and translates into our IT ticketing system, ServiceNow. ServiceNow has robust reporting capabilities where we’re able to drill down on metrics like turnaround times, reported volumes by clinic, root cause for concern (i.e., if it was a scheduling error vs. a process clarification), and employee errors.
With the implementation of this tool, we developed training and expectations for our supervisor team to ensure they are properly reviewing the issues reported and getting to the root cause. When a supervisor reviews a concern, they pull the call and reference our two sources of truth: decision trees (in EPIC) and guidelines (in SharePoint). Many times, we work through reported concerns that are process gaps rather than perceived scheduling errors.
Robust dynamic dashboards were created and are visible to stakeholders for full transparency. The goal of being below a 2% error rate was set. The numerator is errors reported via the Help Desk tool; the denominator is all scheduled appointments. After utilization of this tool for over eight months, trust between centralized scheduling and clinic management has gone up drastically. The reputation for lack of accuracy has subsided -- and teams are discussing concerns based on data, not anecdotes.
Jennifer presented the tool at the PAC Cohort: QA & Training in the Contact Center, moderated by our co-leaders Chris Munoz (UF Jackson); Michael Hesseltine (University of Iowa); and Christa Bednarczyk (UNC Health). PAC members can learn more about the tool at Cohort Resources - it's the March 9 meeting under "Training & Quality Assurance."