A patient scheduling system was recently implemented at the North East Health Centre in Saskatoon, which houses an international travel clinic, a child health clinic and speech and language pathology clinic.

Enterprise Scheduling is a patient scheduling module of Sunrise Clinical Manager (SCM), the Region’s platform for electronic health records. This patient scheduling system not only streamlines the process of booking patient appointments, it ensures a patient-centred approach by enabling staff to quickly and accurately provide patients with information regarding the details of their appointments.

A woman at a computer using the new scheduling system.

Enterprise Scheduling, a module of Sunrise Clinical Manager, has been implemented at the North East Health Centre, allowing staff to easily search for appointments.

Through the new system, staff are able to easily search for available appointments based on patient preferences and availability of resources. They can also easily search for booked appointments by patient name, their health number, or by the day and time of the appointment.   Appointment details can also be easily copied and pasted when rebooking or booking multiple and group appointments.   And staff can use the system to book appointments for multiple sites, and with multiple care providers.

The system also automatically tracks the number of booked, completed, cancelled and missed appointments. In addition, the system enables the generation of various statistical reports and patient confirmation letters.

The implementation of SCM Scheduling at North East Health Centre is just the latest in a string of implementations around Saskatoon Health Region that began in 2011. The system is up and running in 11 other centres already, including the Alvin Buckwald Child Development Program, the Heart Function Clinic, and Spine Pathway Clinic, just to name a few.

“We have people knocking on our door to get this system installed at their place of work,” reported Olga Maciejewski, one of the project managers working in eHealth department. Just where and when the systems get installed is based on the time of the request, the scope of the implementation work, and the internal resources of the eHealth department.

“The system definitely brings a lot of benefits, in terms of streamlining processes,” Maciejewski noted.

Some of the clinics they have converted to SCM Scheduling were still using paper or hard copy calendars to book appointments, which can be inefficient when searching for an appointment time or a patient.  Other clinics were using Outlook, or other programs.

The easy searchability of the SCM Scheduling system is something that Maciejewski, and the users of the system at the clinic, like about it.

“When a client calls in and has an appointment booked but can’t remember the date or time, I can find this information out much quicker with SCM,” said Joan McDonald, who uses SCM Scheduler at the North East Health Centre.  Also, she added, if the client is already entered into the system, booking an appointment is very easy.

“One of our main successes has been that it is easy to find an appointment when a client calls in who cannot remember their appointment time,” agreed Michelle Bussell, who works in the International Travel Centre.  “Our old, paper-based system led us to flipping through pages and pages to try to find the appointment, where now, we enter a health number and look for appointments.  This is quite efficient.”

The printing of reports for clinics has been very useful for pulling charts, Bussell added.

There are parts of the system that still need tweaking, both McDonald and Bussell believe.  However, “Overall, it was quite an easy transition to the new system; something all of our staff were very worried about and it proved to be very smooth,” McDonald stated.  With some minor changes and improvements, she believes the system will be very effective.

Further rollout of SCM Scheduling to other public health facilities is being planned for the spring of 2015.