David Mackay, MBA
Jesse Tindall, MBE
Liz Deleener, MBA, RN
Managing the allocation and staffing of clinic rooms can be complicated, time-consuming, and error-prone when done manually. When using spreadsheets, for example, which is a common practice, clinic managers can spend hours determining how to assign rooms each day.
A manual approach also makes it challenging to execute and communicate changes in real time and glean insights about room utilization and practice efficiency at the practice level.
Inefficient usage of practice resources can negatively affect patient access, care team experience, and revenue generation.
Symphony is a software platform for clinical operations that streamlines the day-to-day management of practice resources and provider schedules. Using Symphony, clinic managers can easily view available rooms and assign personnel to space using drag-and-drop functionality. The platform also generates individual calendars for providers, sends automated daily emails with the schedule to the care team, and ensures that real-time changes can be made if patients no-show or providers need to fit someone in.
In addition to facilitating day-to-day operations, Symphony provides a comprehensive suite of analytical tools that enable organizational leaders to examine various billing, operations, and performance metrics so that they can make well-informed, data-driven decisions regarding clinical resources over time.
As of April 2023, the team is piloting a robotic process automation (RPA) workflow that allows clinic schedules managed in Symphony to be rebuilt in the EHR without human intervention. This is the first RPA to be integrated with the Epic EHR at Penn Medicine. Scaled across the health system, automated schedule builds could save clinic administrators thousands of hours each year.
When we piloted Symphony in the Department of Ophthalmology, the percentage of new patient visits (NPVs) scheduled within 10 days – a standard measure for patient access – increased by 14 points, from around 32 percent pre-pandemic to more than 46 percent. Additionally, the time to reschedule provider-canceled visits dropped by more than 30 days. Practice managers reported more than 10 hours of time saved per week and a significant reduction in scheduling-related errors.
Since the initial pilot, Symphony has remained in use at the ophthalmology clinics of the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), where NPV scheduling within 10 days has risen to 51 percent in fiscal year 2023. We are currently in the process of implementing Symphony in all other CPUP departments, with plans to expand beyond CPUP in fiscal year 2024.