Overcoming Frustration and Inefficiency at an Alaska Optometry Practice
How Everseat Solved a Last-Minute Cancellation Problem
Eagle River Vision, an optometry practice in Anchorage, Alaska, experienced a long list of difficulties when patients cancelled their appointments with less than a day or two notice. Even though staff members and optometrists knew the patient population well and had established a strong rapport, the team struggled to convey the importance of keeping scheduled appointments or rescheduling with advance notice. Their “waitlist” for open appointments consisted of 10 sticky notes around the front desk computer. Whenever a patient called to cancel, a staff member took to the phones and started going down the “list” — a laborious, time-consuming process that just wasn’t working. Most last-minute openings went unfilled, and the practice lost money.
“No one answers their phone anymore,” noted Richelle, a receptionist with the practice for more than five years, who grew frustrated placing calls and leaving messages that patients seldom returned. For every cancelled appointment, Richelle or a colleague spent at least 20 minutes looking for someone to fill it, instead of tackling the insurance claims and other office tasks piling up, or better servicing the patients in need of help at the front desk. “Our time on the phone meant not greeting patients properly when they walked in the door, or delays checking in and out patients,” Richelle explained. “It was creating a real backlog of other priorities and started to feel like wasted time.”
Eagle River Vision needed a far better system and started looking at options. When the practice came across Everseat, it decided to give the mobile booking app a try.
Getting up and running with Everseat’s mobile app took little time, given that Richelle and her colleagues use mobile devices and apps in their personal lives. With Everseat in place, the team no longer had to waste time placing phone calls. They simply had to post the open appointment to the app each time they received a last-minute cancellation. Patients, likewise, could download the free app and send an alert if they needed to schedule an appointment, whether last-minute or not. Then, each time Eagle River Vision posted a new opening, the app would automatically notify patients in need, who could book the appointment immediately on their mobile devices, without ever picking up the phone.
Everseat’s Customer Solutions team worked with Eagle River Vision to announce the new appointment booking option to patients and encourage them to download and utilize the app. The goal was two-fold: (1) raise awareness about Eagle River Vision’s use of Everseat, (2) educate patients about how simple Everseat is to use. To achieve both goals, the team:
- Added an Everseat section to their website that explains how the app works
- Sent a mass email to patients introducing Everseat
- Displayed printed promotional and informational material throughout the office
- Informed people who called for appointments about the app
- Sent individual emails to people from the Everseat dashboard
Everseat offered the quick and efficient solution to last-minute cancellations that Eagle River Vision needed. Consider, for instance, that on May 16, 2015, the practice filled an appointment within 27.9 seconds of posting it, saving the 19 minutes and 30 seconds it would have taken the front desk team before using Everseat.
Implementing the app turned out to be far easier and more successful than Eagle River Vision expected. Because Eagle River Vision has an older patient base, the practice anticipated needing more time to teach patients how to use the app. They also assumed they’d have a harder time convincing patients to download the app, given that the app isn’t well known in the Anchorage area. Neither of these circumstances got in the way, however, and the launch and use of Everseat has been a real success.
Today, instead of maintaining a paper waitlist and haphazard display of sticky notes, Eagle River Vision refers patients to Everseat when they call for a last-minute appointment. In just five months, 90% of the patient population has started using Everseat, with 52% of those users finding and booking a last-minute appointment. Eagle River Vision, meanwhile, is more than satisfied with the 367% return on investment they’ve experienced in the first few months alone.
“Using Everseat has made a real difference,” Richelle said. “It’s not only saving us time and money, it’s saving us from frustration and making us all around better at our jobs.”
About Eagle River Vision Clinic
Eagle River Vision Clinic is a full service eye and vision care center dedicated to providing high-quality optometry services to patients throughout the Eagle River area. Visit them online at www.ervc.com.