4 min read
Better relationships and ‘logical’ scheduling are at the heart of better outcomes
By Signify Health Team on Jan 8, 2024 12:11:56 PM
Signify Health’s growing network of clinicians provides In-home Health Evaluations to health plan members nationwide. In 2023, Signify Health introduced ‘block scheduling’ – a data-driven, logic-based system for reducing drive time and associated cancellations, enabling clinicians to spend less time on the road and more time connecting with health plan members.
This [new scheduling system] is next level. There are days when I am able to park my car and walk between appointments, and when I can’t walk, the drives are usually under 10 minutes.
John K., NP
Accurate and efficient scheduling is essential to ensuring that Signify Health clinicians complete In-Home Health Evaluations (IHEs) at the times selected by health plan members. With an increased demand for IHEs, changes to consumer expectations, member visits occurring in more geographies, and travel challenges such as heavy traffic and detours, Signify Health identified the need to enhance and improve its scheduling processes to benefit members and Signify Clinicians.
Put yourself in the shoes of a nurse practitioner scheduled for multiple daily visits in a major metro – an area known for its sporadic traffic jams. Your 9 a.m. appointment involved a health plan member with a complex medical history who hadn’t seen her primary care provider in two years. You enjoy listening to people and educating them about their health, but simply completing the medication review portion of the IHE took 45 minutes. Your next appointment is scheduled for 10 a.m. – you’re running late before you’re back on the road. When you finally arrive, you are stressed, and the member greets you with his aggravation: he was told you’d be there at the top of the hour. Your visit and, in fact, your day is off to a rocky start.
Particularly in our post-pandemic reality, consumers expect (and receive) timely, customized services and convenient experiences. People expect deliveries to occur when promised, appointment times to occur when scheduled, and experiences to occur as described.
Feedback from health plan members and clinicians has confirmed that scheduling at a particular time without flexibility causes frustration and dissatisfaction. Clinicians do not want to invest more time driving between appointments and health plan members do not want to wait for an appointment to begin and neither want to feel rushed.
Introducing logic-based block scheduling
Signify Health teams applied this feedback and developed a new scheduling roadmap with logic-based block scheduling at its core to increase the potential for IHE success before the first knock on the member’s door. When members are scheduled, they are offered an appointment within three, three-hour windows, or ‘blocks’: 9 a.m. - noon, noon - 3 p.m., and 3 - 6 p.m.
When clinicians confirm appointment times the night before a scheduled appointment, they refer to the pending arrival times (i.e., 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. block) versus fixed arrival times (i.e., 10 - 11 a.m.). Once schedules are set for the following day, they are run through our enhanced route optimization tool, ensuring visits are optimally sequenced to reduce drive time.
Providers are driving less and canceling fewer appointments. This means I need to reschedule fewer appointments. I’m able to use my time more efficiently, for example, scheduling new appointments.
-Signify Health Member Engagement Coordinator
At a high level, this more comprehensive scheduling system and process considers regional geography, ingress, and egress, improving experiences and optimizing the member and the provider’s valuable time. Before the newly developed four-phased system, clinicians could receive negative feedback if they arrived as little as 10 minutes after the scheduled appointment. The new system better aligns clinician and member expectations with a broader and more realistic timeframe schedule.
Three meaningful enhancements for the IHE clinician include:
- The ability to set realistic expectations with health plan members regarding arrival times without adding undue stress to the clinician for arriving late or early.
- Optimized routes that prevent back-and-forth driving scenarios, improving the provider experience.
- Improved usage of resources results in fewer rescheduled appointments, further enhancing the experience for clinicians and members.
Since this change, my days are much more manageable. [Even on days when I have] fewer appointments, I am completing more because I am not running late as often.
Sheryl S., MD
Improved healthcare outcomes
Since the implementation of Phase I of the new block scheduling program, Signify Health clinicians have improved their on-time arrival rates by more than 45%. Health plan members report being satisfied with the adherence to the scheduled arrival time, and clinicians are pleased to drive less throughout the day.
The multi-phased approach will continue adapting to clinician and member feedback to streamline the IHE process, reduce drive times and cancellations, and ultimately optimize available time for members. In our increasingly consumer-centric world, Signify Health has responded with an approach designed to improve the experience for everyone.