Mediware User Review:

Jefferson Center for Mental Health

Mental health providers are under greater pressure than ever before. Budget concerns, regulatory changes, and the burdensome requirements of funding sources have converged to produce a “perfect storm.”

The challenges facing Jefferson Center for Mental Health, a non-profit mental health facility in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, are common to similar facilities all across the country.  With an ever-increasing number of individuals and families seeking access to services, resources must be able to handle the load.
In order to meet the growing needs of its community, Jefferson Center took a proactive approach and identified ways to increase administrative efficiency and improve its infrastructure.  A primary aspect of that approach was appointment scheduling.

“The scheduler we were using needed substantial enhancement,” says Vicki Williams, a business analyst in the IS department and project manager behind the scheduling overhaul.  “We needed a product that was more intuitive and offered broader functionality.  For example, our previous scheduler didn’t allow for removing only one appointment in a series of recurring appointments, so if you deleted one, you had to delete the whole series.  We were spending a lot of programming time trying to make it work with our changing business needs.”

Williams began the search for a new scheduler.  “AppointmentsEverywhere was the best one we found.  We were able to integrate it with our current EHR/billing system.”

Centralized Scheduling Makes
Care More Available

Jefferson Center has over twenty outpatient locations, including satellite offices in community settings such as schools and nursing homes, with myriad providers such as physicians, prescribing nurses, psychologists, case managers, and counselors.  According to Williams, “With the old scheduler, it was difficult to communicate appointment availability between locations.
“One of the center’s top initiatives was to maximize personnel resources across all sites, and that meant moving to a centralized scheduling concept.  That way, if a doctor from a nearby office had a cancellation and a client from another office was willing to travel, the client could get in for an appointment right away versus potentially waiting longer for an opening at the original office.  Centralized scheduling has enabled us to provide even better customer service by getting clients in sooner.”

Clinicians Gain More Time
to Spend with Clients

Another of Jefferson Center’s goals was to reduce the scheduling burden on clinicians so that they could focus their time on what they do best – helping clients.

“The clinicians were handling their own schedules, and many were spending a lot of time on it,” Williams recalls.  “After scheduling an appointment, if the client called back to reschedule, the clinician usually would be with another client, requiring the caller to leave a voicemail.  Often, when the clinicians returned the call, they would end up leaving a voicemail in return.  There was a lot of back-and-forth until they finally made contact, which was not the best use of our clinical staff’s time.  They would much rather being seeing clients than scheduling appointments.”

The scheduling system also provides color-coding options. The agency assigns unique colors to quickly identify consultant time spent directly with the client; indirect time spent on case management; school-funded visits; overlapping appointments with multiple consultants; client meetings and more.

The solution was to empower the support staff with the added capabilities of the new scheduling system.  With Appointments Everywhere, the centralized scheduling group could see available resources at any Jefferson Center location and reschedule clients immediately.

“Our front desk staff really like it. They’re constantly blown away by all that they can do.”

“We want the majority of our rescheduling to go through our scheduling department, so our clinicians can spend more time on care.”

Locking In Best Practices Makes
Clinicians More Efficient

The features of AppointmentsEverywhere have made Jefferson Center’s scheduling process more efficient.  Support staff can clearly define appointments, assign default procedure times, and color-code each procedure, making the clinicians’ schedules easier to read at a glance.  This saves the clinicians time by giving them the information they need without having to open and view the details of each appointment.

Finding Open Times in
a Crowded Schedule

Ask Williams if the scheduling has improved, and her answer is emphatic.  “Oh yes! There are so many things we can do now, like find an open slot with an automated search, instead of manually going through the schedule day by day.  We can also hold appointment times for different programs.  For example, we have an older adult program, and we can put holds in the schedule for that specific program, something we were never ever able to do before.”

This means that when an eligible client comes in for that program, a scheduler can run a quick search and instantly find an available appointment in the vast, heavily-booked schedule at Jefferson Center.

The wait list used to be a tedious process that was managed on paper at each location.  Thanks to AppointmentsEverywhere, when a client cancels an appointment, an electronic wait list automatically pops up, displaying clients waiting for an open appointment time.

 

If the open appointment time does not work for anyone on the wait list, the time slot is cleared and the scheduling team can easily see that the space is available and focus on filling it.

Better Scheduling Makes
For Happier People

Change is always difficult, but Williams is excited about the speed of adoption.  “Normally when you implement something new, people want to hang on to what they know.  But our staff are already telling me, ‘I love this product.  It’s so much easier than the old scheduler.’  The product is amazing.”

Williams adds, “Our front desk staff really like it now.  They want more and more information about what the scheduler can do so that they can do more things more quickly.  They’re constantly blown away by all that they can do now.”

This year, Jefferson Center was able to implement same-day access for clients.  “Clients can now meet with a clinical staff member the same day they call or walk in.  We could not have managed the necessary staffing without centralized scheduling and our new scheduler.  It’s been great!”