Many health systems have begun offering the ability to schedule appointments online, either through their EHR or some other platform. This is the norm for many other industries and people are beginning to expect this. My organization is challenged to do this because we have allowed providers to customize their world to the nth degree. For example, many only see a very narrow spectrum of patients despite credentials and experience that would allow them to see a broader subset. They have also customized their visit types so that we literally have thousands of visit types. This has made it very difficult to begin the process of piloting online scheduling. To date, we have only been able to have a very few visit types, such as routine follow-ups because the providers have such specific templates that our IT folks would have to build an impossibly complex process. Examples might be a neurologist who only sees headache patients on Tuesday mornings for 45 minute visits for new patients and post concussion visits in sports clinics on Fridays for 1 hour. Each doc has been allowed to customize visit type, clinic times, etc, etc. Many of these docs are very successful researchers who only want to see patients who have the condition on which they are doing research.
So, the problem really is one of culture where we don’t historically tell doctors what they can and can’t do and then how do we simplify all these visit types to make it possible to do online scheduling. As additional background, for the few types of visits we have been able to schedule online, the overwhelming feedback has been that it is a very positive experience.