Online appointment booking helps rural communities manage Covid impact
4 min read
The last two years have been extremely challenging for communities in Canada as they have struggled to manage with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our community, the County of Renfrew (the largest in Ontario) some communities are up to 2 hours’ drive from each other. When the pandemic hit, several key health care providers came together to tackle COVID-19 and put in place safeguards to help protect the community. This was particularly difficult given the wide-spread nature of our population.
The challenges that we faced: Stage 1
Assessment centres a priority
Our first key focus was to put in place a testing and assessment centre to ensure residents with Covid-like symptoms could get tested. A mobile testing service was set up with sites across the county. Often these were pop-up clinics located in the more remote locations
Telephone based system and staff resources
To manage these bookings, we initially had a phone system with call handlers booking people into a schedule. This was extremely resource intensive and as Covid cases increased so did call wait times, meaning that some people who needed to get tested didn’t as they gave up in frustration.
How did we address these challenges?
The switch to online
Savience provided us with a solution with their online appointment booking solution.
Many people prefer online booking. Available 24/7, no waiting in a queue, search and book slots that fit with their needs and instant SMS confirmation of their appointment. Plus, the registration is always available, to provide choice and assistance for those that most need it.
Over time, we have seen more and more people using the online booking system. It reduced calls to our reception team significantly which allowed us to focus on providing other critical health care services.
Rural challenges in a mobile world!
Given our geography and the mobile nature of our testing and assessment sites, as well as limitations on cell reception and internet connectivity, we had to come up with a creative way to manage attendance at all the sites.
Reports for staff
Savience built reports that were easily accessible and identified who was booked and when. These reports were shared securely with the clinical staff manning the mobile sites to print labels for requisitions and manage attendance.
Reports for government
This data was also used when reporting to government and other key stakeholders and to monitor the incidence of individuals needing testing, contribute to provincial datasets and plan the resources we needed on the ground.
The challenges that we faced: Stage 2
In 2021, we were then faced with the COVID-19 vaccination challenge. How could we manage bookings for the 12 and over population (almost 100,000 people) in a seamless way with very limited resources?
We did not have the resources to set up an extensive reception system but needed to provide vaccination clinics in many locations across the county.
Savience to the rescue. Part 2
Again, Savience came to our aid and helped us to set up a county-wide online appointment booking system that supported our vaccine clinic requirements. The system gathered data on the dose and type of vaccine that people required enabling us to manage the vaccine program across the region.
The inbuilt reporting helped us in the more remote sites with attendance lists. This meant that we could provide the required vaccine and staff in each location and to contact people if need be.
A phone line was set up to help people who struggle with the internet and online booking, with agents able to book people directly into the system, offering a new level of customer service.
Partnerships and people
Savience continues to expand and tailor the system as we have evolved our online booking needs. Clients can now easily cancel their appointments, re-book and get email confirmations with additional directions. Enhancements have also been made to the local management of the system to allow us to do more ourselves. They have done this with a smile and a “can do” attitude with the kind of service and support that makes the difference in knowing you aren’t alone.
We enjoy working with Savience, we appreciate their responsiveness to our needs and their quick understanding of what is required and how to make it happen. For a rural community with many providers and limited technology they have provided us with a solution that works and that has been well received by users.
Arnprior & District Family Health Team
For more information on our Online Appointment Booking solution please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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