Like any clinic in the rapidly growing urgent care space, Next Level Urgent Care in Houston, Texas needed to standout in their highly competitive environment. CEO and Medical Director, Dr. Juliet Breeze, and her team sought to improve patient loyalty by offering outstanding patient experiences based on convenience, efficiency, and clinical excellence.
Providing outstanding patient experiences required reevaluating every step of the patient’s visit, from initiation all the way through to discharge and scheduling follow up appointments or referrals. The clinic launched a virtual waiting room app and redesigned their interior, but they still struggled to provide patients with a convenient way to schedule follow up or referral visits. The standard model of having patients do it themselves resulted in unnecessary communication, increased patient stress, and higher wait times between initial visits and follow up appointments.
Next Level also faced a challenge when it came to having the right tools to fix this problem. Despite all the recent technological advancements, the vast majority of healthcare providers and health systems still rely on landlines, tear sheets, and fax orders to communicate about their vitally important patient referrals. Dr. Breeze says her tech savvy patients needed to engage with more up-to-date software and processes.
Research reveals that Next Level is not the only clinic with these problems. When patients are left to self-schedule referral appointments, they only follow through about half the time, often leading to one of three undesirable outcomes:
1. The patient never schedules the referral appointment
2. The patient schedules the appointment, but then never shows up to receive care
3. The patient successfully schedules an appointment, and shows up, but it is often 30+ days after the initial visit.
In order to improve patient experiences, Next Level needed to eliminate these problems and ensure that their patients received the necessary care from start to finish. Blockit gave them the tools to make this possible.
With Blockit, Next Level now has visibility to schedule referral appointments with third-party partners before the patient leaves the building. With just one-click, the sending provider or their staff can schedule an available referral appointment with a receiving provider or imaging center without calling, faxing, or otherwise contacting the receiving facility. That same one-click securely sends the patient’s demographics, desired clinical data, associated CPT/ICD codes, insurance information, and transfers that data directly into the receiving providers EMR/Scheduling software.
The software is designed to make the process as simple as possible for all users, while in the background, Blockit utilizes cutting edge technology, proprietary algorithms, and HIPAA compliant interface engines to create high usability.
Patients love how efficient the process is. They simply receive an email notification, calendar invite, or text message informing them of the time, location, and contact information of the receiving facility and are instantly placed on that schedule in real-time, just as if the receiving provider’s staff scheduled the appointment themselves.
Two specific examples highlight the incredible value of using Blockit’s direct, real-time scheduling for both Next Level and their patients.
A local athlete rolled his ankle playing high school basketball on a Friday evening. He was treated at NextLevel and xrays revealed a non-displaced fracture of his distal fibula (a bone in the lower leg). He was put in a temporary splint, placed on crutches, and was given non-weight bearing instructions. In the past, he would have been given a list of orthopedic docs he could contact or been advised to coordinate follow-up care with the school trainer, but with Blockit, his Nextlevel provider was able to secure him an appointment for a local orthopedic group’s Saturday morning clinic.
Another serious situation was resolved when a patient with chronic COPD arrived at the clinic with mild wheezing and SOB. She was recently started on a new medication and had called her pulmonologist to see if they could fit her in for an appointment that day but was told they were fully booked until late the following week. Her provider at NextLevel was concerned that her symptoms might rapidly recur if her numerous COPD medications were not properly adjusted. Using Blockit, the provider was able to access a time slot and book an appointment with her pulmonology practice the very next morning. Her medications were adjusted during that consult, preventing an unnecessary ER visit or hospital admission.
For the first time, providers have an integrated system to manage patients and better meet their needs. Blockit increases patient satisfaction with the referral process and creates a better patient experience. Providers take comfort in the dramatic improvement of follow up timing and appointment compliance. Clinic owners value Blockit’s ability to capture market-size referral data along with its easy to read and customizable benchmarking and reporting capabilities. Staff appreciate the reduced time burden in making referral phone calls, sending faxes/emails, forwarding clinical summaries, and exchanging clinical, demographic and insurance data.
What makes the software unique is that it sends information via secure, HIPAA compliant bi-directional interfaces between the sending and receiving organizations’ EMR. Blockit has already successfully integrated with most leading EMR software companies like Epic, Athena, Centricity, and eClinicalWorks. By being EMR agnostic, Blockit gives urgent care centers the opportunity to create a referral network with a provider or group of providers, regardless of their size or affiliation with a hospital system. No other referral software platforms can offer this. Connecting patients to partner providers is an ongoing challenge in the healthcare market. Next Level Urgent Care actively improved the patient/provider interaction and maintained their high-level of customer care and satisfaction. Dr. Breeze says that when direct, real-time referral scheduling is used, “the consumer experience value goes through the roof.”
Providing patients with outstanding experiences in this notoriously difficult space is imperative, and by simply making referral scheduling easier for all involved, Next Level improved the overall level of care and positively impacted patient outcomes.