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Avera Operationalizes Same-Day Appointments

Oct 09, 2013 01:25PM ● By Med Editor

Dr. Shawn Culey practices family medicine at Avera Medical Group McGreevy West Benson Road, one of several Avera clinic locations offering same-day appointments.

Avera has announced its offering of same-day appointments in family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine. Same-day scheduling has been offered for the past several months thanks to a recent Innovation/LEAN project.

In November 2012, Avera Medical Group McGreevy operationalized this new scheduling process with this goal: When patients call any McGreevy location for an appointment, that patient will have an appointment scheduled by the end of the first conversation – without having to call another location, or wait for a call back. Avera Medical Group Internal Medicine has also joined the same-day process.

Schedulers can schedule into any available appointment slot at participating Avera clinics.  The same-day service is intended for acute conditions, like a fever, earache, sinus infection or back pain – not annual physicals.

The success of this program is the result of an Innovation/LEAN project, working directly with physicians and front-line staff. Before the project began, Avera Medical Group McGreevy was averaging 70 “first calls” per week from patients that did not end in a scheduled appointment. Now, that number is virtually zero. Thanks to LEAN “hard-wiring,” same-day requests can be consistently delivered. What’s more, Avera Medical Group McGreevy has realized a 10.2 percent growth in appointments.

“We have two goals whenever a patient calls for an appointment. One is to give that patient what he or she wants by the end of that conversation – an appointment; and two is to never lose a patient,” said Deb Soholt, Administrative Liaison to Avera McKennan’s Primary Care Innovation Council.

Through this new plan, providers make time for same-day appointment availability, and also earmark appointments where double-booking is possible in advance. Open slots are made available electronically to all schedulers, so those open appointments can be offered to patients if their own provider and clinic have a full schedule.

Physicians are busier, more productive, and appreciate having a streamlined schedule. New physicians get more opportunity to more quickly work up to their capacity as well. “We’re finding that patients are grateful to be seen, and we are using our primary care system to its fullest,” Soholt said.