Swindon Borough Council Paediatric Therapy Service is a health and social care service in Swindon that offers physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy for children and young people aged 0-18 with physical difficulties or disabilities. Each year, the Paediatric Therapy Service team of therapists sees more than 3,600 children for support, advice, and to help limit the impact of their disability and promote independence.
Time-consuming and manual appointment scheduling processes
The Paediatric Therapy service was experiencing high volumes of missed appointments and last-minute cancellations. The admin team arranged the appointments manually, and invitations were sent out to parents and carers by letter, often at short notice. Having a manual process for scheduling appointments meant that many of the scheduled visits were vacant, leading to long waiting lists. The manual process also created a poor experience for parents and carers who would receive invitations to an appointment that was not necessarily at a convenient time or date for them. And many times, they didn't have enough notice for them to be able to attend. The manual appointment scheduling process also took up much time for the admin staff and incurred additional costs for printing and postage.
Choosing the best-matched appointment solution
After undertaking a requirement gathering exercise and following the standard procurement process, Swindon Borough Council identified Qmatic appointment management as the best-matched solution to meet their needs and budget.
"The process was simple, and Qmatic was very helpful. They worked closely with us to understand our needs and advise us of the best way to configure the system to meet those needs. Whenever there was a problem or limitation in the system, they would take that away to work out a suitable solution that would work for us within the constraints of the overall system configuration," said Sally Moss, Project Manager at Swindon Borough Council.
By implementing Qmatic's web-based appointment solution, the Paediatric Therapy Service significantly improved its appointment scheduling process. The admin team can now book, amend, cancel and re-schedule appointments more quickly and provide more notice to their visitors. It allowed their admin team to set up all available appointments several months into the future and made scheduling and managing appointments easy. The email and SMS notifications effectively reduce no-shows and enhance customer satisfaction and save time with a reduction in repetitive scheduling tasks.
Enhanced efficiency, resource allocation, and higher appointment availability
Today, the admin team allocates their resources quickly and efficiently, and upcoming visitors now have more notice before the appointment. They are informed by email and text message and then sent reminders to attend. If an appointment is not convenient, then a simple phone call allows the parent/carer to change that appointment quickly and easily. Having extended notice also means more confirmed appointments as parents and carers have more time to make arrangements to attend. Or, if they cannot do so, they have more time to amend or cancel, which means that those appointments can be opened up again quickly and offered to other children
The appointment scheduling system is also efficient for re-organizing appointments in the event of a venue or therapist suddenly being unavailable. Text messages can be sent out immediately to parents/carers to notify them. And the admin staff can then make alternative appointments on the fly.
"We no longer have occasions where the service needs to cancel appointments at short notice due to a lack of available staff or venue so that there is no time to inform the customer and they have a wasted journey. Email and text alerts mean that we can update our customers quickly and efficiently of any changes," said Moss. “The system now makes it so much quicker for us to book appointments for parents, saving approximately 7 minutes per booking, which means that we can now work further ahead and book appointments that provide parents with much more notice, weeks instead of days.”
After five months of utilizing the new appointment solution at five of its clinic’s the average number of days' notice for upcoming appointments has increased from 4.5 days to 219 days. And during the same period, the number of available appointments has increased at the clinic by 39%, from 246 to 341.