Four stage deployment process
Once the technology is setup and working as expected, and you are happy with any pilot areas, its time to begin the main operational deployment of DrDoctor.
A typical operational deployment involves 4 main stages. There are a number of approaches that can be taken but we tend to find the most effective is to work specialty by specialty, deploying the full set of features before moving on to the next specialty. This allows staff to become familiar with how the system works, flushes out any operational issues and delivers value in the quickest and lowest risk way. You can deploy to multiple specialties in groups or batches at the same time, but we still recommend you aim to deploy the full set of features without interruption to the whole group, before moving on.
Stage 1 - Reminders and rescheduling
Reminders are very straight forward, generally don't require any process change and can deliver value to your organisation very quickly. It's also the starting point for most organisations we work with as it’s a natural extension to previous reminder services that have been used.
When you switch on DrDoctor's reminders, you will start to enable patients to access the web portal which will capture and cleanse your data and allow them to access the more advanced features in DrDoctor.
Enabling rescheduling at this stage helps to introduce your staff to the notifications and actions that the system will generate. Its important to ensure that you can effectively manage these at this stage, as the more advanced features in stage 3 will build on this.
Hint - a common issue at stage 1
Phone calls - sometimes you may notice an increase in phone calls enquiring about appointments that people are not familiar with. This is an indicator that your current booking processes are not effectively communicating appointments to your patients and is typically a major contributor to poor attendance rates. There are two main reasons this happens:
- Your communications are not gettings through (e.g. your letters aren't being sent, or you have a high proportion of incorrect contact information)
- You are booking too far in advance and not reminding/updating the patient frequently enough while they wait.
If you can cope with the phone calls, we recommend you continue to deploy as quickly as you are able as stage 3 will alleviate this. If the phone calls are unworkable, please review this with your project manager as you may need to consider temporary extra support or implementing a change of process sooner.
Stage 2 - Booking confirmations and online content
A good starting point for stage 2, is to migrate the content of your clinic letters online. If you have the time at this stage, its also a really good opportunity to consider refreshing the information you give to patients, ideally involving the individual doctors so they can inform and prepare their patients before they attend. See Managing web content.
Once you are happy that the online content is setup, you should start to enable booking confirmations. These messages are very similar to a reminder messages but are triggered as soon as the appointment is booked. They are essential for increasing the amount of notice you will get for any changes a patient needs to make and are also an excellent way to engage patients earlier in their pathway. It is also a good opportunity to reduce the number of letters you need to send. See Booking confirmations.
Everyone works slightly differently so you will need to decide exactly how you go about reducing your letters using this tool - our support team are always happy to share best practices that we have learned about.
Stage 3 - Appointment booking (a.k.a. Outpatient waiting list management, partial booking)
Outpatient waiting lists are a very effective way of managing outpatient services. Historically they have been difficult to adopt as they require more time and effort to manage and nobody has resources available to potentially double their workload. DrDoctor can automate the management of waiting lists meaning that you can gain the operational and patient benefits of this approach to clinic management without overloading your staff.
With DrDoctor, you must first decide how you will structure your waiting lists before they are implemented. You may want to setup a temporary list and only add 20-30 patients to see how the processes work before adopting them more widely. It's essential to build up the understanding of how the system works within your own staff so that you can use the system effectively. We can provide training and support for this as needed.
If at all possible, try to avoid migrating patients who have already been booked to a waiting list, or from one waiting list to another - this increases work for you, is terrible experience for the patient and is liable to cause patients to be lost in the process. Instead consider running the old processes in parallel with the new processes until all patients go through a DrDoctor managed waiting list. Then disable/remove the old lists.
See Appointment booking for details.
Tip: even with a short-notice bookings it is still important to give the patient the ability to choose their own time and control how they do it. You may find it useful to have dedicated "short-notice" lists so that you can actively manage the booking if needed.
Stage 4 - Auto-offering last minute cancellations and letter workflows