More Than One Million Hours Per Year in Total
Recently we made a change to how we notify clinics about indeterminate responses to Appointment Reminders—ie. SMS replies from patients that didn’t say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to attending an appointment, but perhaps ‘I’m coming’ or ‘I can’t make it’. We started showing these replies in the HotDoc Sidebar, instead of emailing clinics each time an indeterminate response was received. In just two months, this prevented 150K emails being sent to reception staff, saving an estimated 8,000 minutes of admin.
These types of changes—small in one aspect, but enormous in another—are being made everyday at HotDoc to streamline our products and free up medical reception teams. It did get me thinking though, if this one small change could have such a big impact on reducing admin, how much time was our entire platform saving clinics?
I started scratching the figures down on a piece of paper and the number quickly surpassed one million hours in a single year. This is equivalent to more than 370 hours saved in admin per clinic per year.
Here’s how I worked it out:
Let’s assume it takes the average receptionist two minutes to take a booking over the phone. While some receptionists may take bookings faster, we have to consider the time lost when a receptionist is pulled from a different task to answer the phone.
= Number of bookings x Time it takes to take a booking
= 13,000,000 x 2
= 26,000,000 minutes
= 433,000 hours
Added to this, we’ve also allowed more than 50,000 patients to reschedule their appointments through HotDoc in the last year. This is another 50,000 inbound calls we’ve prevented clinics from having to handle.
= Number of rescheduled appts x Time it takes to change a booking
= 50,000 x 2
= 100,000 minutes
= 1,700 hours
Let’s assume it takes the average nurse/receptionist five minutes to manually send a recall. How did we get this? We’re assuming it takes 30 seconds to bring up the patient list in the PMS and two minutes to print the letter and put it in an envelope. Then there is another two or three minutes spent calling patients, updating records and fielding inbound bookings. If you think five minutes is too generous, remember that recalls often require multiple follow-ups to lock patients in and that this is all automated with HotDoc.
= Number of recalls x Time it takes to manually send a recall
= 8,000,000 x 5
= 40,000,000 minutes
= 667,000 hours
Despite COVID-19 impacting our digital Check-In numbers (because more appointments were/are being done via telehealth) we still processed more than 1.75 million check-ins over the past year.
Let’s assume it takes 30 seconds to check-in at the front desk.
= Number of check-ins x Time it takes to check-in
= 1,750,000 x 0.5
= 875,000 minutes
= 14,600 hours
Added to this, more than 100,000 patients have used our check-in to update their personal details on their own. This has saved reception staff from having to manually update these details.
Let’s assume it takes two minutes to update a patient’s details.
= Number of patients updating their details x Time it takes to update details
= 100,000 x 2
= 200,000 minutes
= 3,300 hours
Digital New Patient Forms
We’re currently processing more than 15,000 Digital New Patient Forms each week. In one year this amounts to more than 780,000 forms that don’t require reception staff to hand out, collect and manually transcribe.
Let’s assume it takes the average receptionist five minutes to hand out a new patient form, collect the form and put the patient’s details into the computer.
= Number of forms completed x Time it takes to transcribe a new patient form
= 780,000 x 5
= 3,900,000 minutes
= 65,000 hours
Total Hours Saved
Adding just these four products together equals more than one million hours of saved admin each year.
= Online Bookings + Recalls + Check-In + Digital New Patient Forms
= (433K + 1.7K) + (667K) + (14.6K + 3.3K) + (65K)
= 1.2 million hours
With around 3,200 clinics now using HotDoc, this comes out to be 370 hours saved per clinic per year.
We know this figure should be taken as a grain of salt. Some clinics are faster at processes than others. This said, keep in mind that I’ve tried to be conservative with the numbers and didn’t include data from many of our other products.
For instance, I didn’t include data from our Reminders product, which has prevented tens of thousands of outbound calls confirming appointments and chasing no-shows. I also didn’t include data from our Place in Queue feature—we can only guess how many times this has stopped patients going up to the desk to ask when their doctor is expected. Nor does it include data on the hours saved through our Repeats product, Reviews product, Patient Feedback tool, or Inform tool.
It’s a rough estimate. Although, even if you do question the time frames I’ve laid out, let’s remember that “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time”. This could mean we’re saving clinics well over one million hours each year.