Cision PR Newswire

AHN launches online self-scheduling for primary care, certain specialty appointments

Allegheny Health Network partners with DocASAP on new booking technology

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Allegheny Health Network (AHN) patients now have a new option for self-scheduling a doctor's appointment – by booking online, right from their computers or smartphones, in just minutes.

"Patients are telling us they want more autonomy, and tools like these," said Deborah Duffy, SVP Patient Access.

AHN is now one of just a few large health systems in the country to offer self-scheduling for primary and specialty services. According to HealthLeaders magazine, about 88% of health systems see patient self-scheduling as a top access and investment priority, but only about 3% currently have that capability – and only a few are actually acting on those plans, the magazine reported in July 2022.

"At AHN, we know that exceptional care isn't just about providing outstanding medicine – it's about breaking down barriers to care and providing better access and an easier experience for our patients," said Deborah Duffy, Senior Vice President, Virtual Health and Access for AHN. "Online self-scheduling eliminates a lot of the hassle involved in making a doctor's appointment."

In other words, less time on the phone with call centers or reception desks.

When patients visit AHN.org's "Find Care" portal (findcare.ahn.org) and search for a primary care provider or a specialist, the search will return a list of providers. Many of those provider bios now feature a "make an appointment" button beside the provider's name.

By clicking on the "make an appointment" button, patients will be taken to the provider's online scheduling tool, which shows the provider's short-term availability and next available appointment.

From there, the online booking tool directs the patients to a decision tree and asks them a series of questions (reason for visit, date of birth, and a few others related to insurance coverage) and then asks them to select an available appointment window. Lastly, the tool asks the patient to confirm the appointment.

The technology interacts seamlessly with AHN's MyChart patient portal. After the appointment is confirmed through the "Find Care" tool, the patient receives an immediate MyChart notification.

"Patients are telling us they want more autonomy, and more tools like these," Duffy said. "As a network, we are committed to delivering consumer-friendly technologies that allow patients to access health care on their own terms."

Caregivers are enthusiastic about AHN's new self-scheduling option. Historically, physician practices have been resistant to giving up control of their appointment books, but at AHN, practices have collaborated with the network's access and IT teams every step of the way, on this and other access-improvement initiatives

"Our physicians understand that providing world-class medicine is only one part of the care equation," said Donald Whiting, MD, Chief Medical Officer for AHN. "Ensuring convenient access to our providers allows patients to more easily take advantage of the many medical services that we offer. Our new self-scheduling technology is a game-changer for both patients and caregivers."    

AHN has partnered with DocASAP, a leading patient access and engagement platform, to implement the new self-scheduling system. DocASAP, a part of Optum, which serves a variety of health systems and health plans nationally, is based in Virginia.

To date, more than 2,000 patients have successfully self-scheduled their own AHN physician appointments using the new option, which launched this summer. Currently, patients may self-schedule primary care, orthopedic, and OB/GYN appointments. More specialties, including cardiology, will be added in the near future.

"As an industry, we need to meet people where they are – and increasingly, they are online," Duffy said. "This is a truly patient-centered access advancement, and it has the potential to improve health and well-being in meaningful ways."

 Patients can also continue to request appointments via email through their MyChart app, or by calling 412-DOCTORS in the Pittsburgh area (814-CONNECT in the Erie region).

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About the Allegheny Health Network:

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region.  The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women's health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more.  AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

About Optum:

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 210,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH). For more information, visit www.Optum.com.

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SOURCE Allegheny Health Network