Anyone who has scheduled an appointment with their family physician, dentist, or other healthcare provider has benefited from Centralized Scheduling. The process, whereby a dedicated professional schedules, reschedules, or cancels appointments, is widely used in the healthcare profession. It is more convenient for patients, removes added extra administrative work from clinical staff, and overall allows a healthcare provider to more efficiently and effectively support client care.
In January 2022, Sound relaunched its Centralized Scheduling program to bring about the same benefits to clients, team members, and caregivers scheduling appointments. Sound was already in the midst of implementing Centralized Scheduling in 2020 when the pandemic short-circuited the effort, causing Sound to postpone the rollout until the timing was optimal.
Lessons learned and team member feedback from 2020 were used in developing the new implementation. Despite that, there are growing pains, similar to any new enterprise, administrative and clinical teams continue to develop new workflows and have been gaining more confidence and experience collaborating together.
Centralized Scheduling, when optimized, will allow clients to either call or walk into a Sound office, at which time administrative team members will determine services needed and insurance eligibility. If the client has walked in and is eligible, Sound may schedule an appointment the same day with available clinicians. If this is not possible, Sound would immediately schedule a future appointment. Clients who call in will be scheduled for an assessment more expediently.
When it is fully operational, Sound expects that the new system will create more consistency and standardization of scheduling practices, faster access to care for clients, reduced administrative workload for clinical teams — allowing them to have more time focused on client care – and greater client satisfaction overall.
“Centralized Scheduling is focused on doing what is best for the client,” says Aimee Casselberry Administrative Supervisor at Sound. “By creating a more uniform process for intakes and ongoing care, we are ensuring equity for our clients. Clinical teams will have more time to focus on a client’s care by relying on the Centralized Scheduling team to handle administrative duties.”
When all of these factors are accounted for, the other benefit of Centralized Scheduling is increased revenue opportunities.
“While client care is of the utmost importance to Sound,” observes Casselberry, “properly managing schedules and ensuring that the client is financially eligible increases revenue and allows us the financial stability to expand and serve more people.”
One of the biggest misperceptions about Centralized Scheduling is that it will take control from the clinical staff. In reality, it frees them up to do more of the quality work in which they have the most expertise: seeing and supporting clients, while removing the burden of work better managed by administrative staff. Clinical teams will still have flexibility in their schedules for breaks, documentation and other work.