Many industries are decreasing overhead costs and providing more convenience by involving customers in service delivery. This case study is part one of a three-part study examining the impact of an online appointment scheduling system on a physician office's scheduling. The purpose of the case study was to understand the impact of an online self-booking system on primary care physician office workflow. Conventional telephone and online appointment scheduling workflows were reviewed using process engineering techniques. Online appointment scheduling substantially reduced the receptionist's role in the scheduling function, which freed receptionist resources for other tasks. Practices with predictable and repetitive scheduling workflows benefitted the most from such systems. Staff provided technical support to patients who called the office if they encountered technical issues. Explicit documentation was required to lead patients through the online booking process; otherwise, system benefits were compromised by nuisance technical support calls to the office. Online booking may not have been suitable for use by all patients; however, those who booked online made the physician's office more accessible for patients who booked by telephone.
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