Epic Tools Give Patients Power to Schedule

With Direct Scheduling and FastPass, MyChart users can make, change appointments online.

Published in Dome - May 2015

Two new Epic tools, Direct Scheduling and FastPass, give Johns Hopkins patients the ability to make and change their own appointments through their MyChart portal.

Since the July 2014 launch of Direct Scheduling, more than 1,000 patients have bypassed the telephone to make appointments online. FastPass, which debuted last month with the upgrade to Epic 2014, lets patients with appointments put themselves on electronic waiting lists to receive alerts when earlier timeslots become available.

Patients can now use Direct Scheduling to make mammogram appointments at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Imaging at Green Spring Station and White Marsh. Pilots are underway for family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, and gynecology and obstetrics visits. Next will be a primary care rollout for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians and internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Clinic, says Epic project leader Steven Klapper.

Direct Scheduling is more convenient for patients than calling for appointments, says Pedro Diaz, manager of about 30 agents who receive more than 15,000 phone calls per month from patients scheduling outpatient imaging. The agents spend several minutes on the phone with each caller, going over their patient history to ensure the optimal procedure is chosen, then help to select a date and location. 

By contrast, when patients make mammogram appointments through Direct Scheduling, they sign into their MyChart page, answer yes-or-no questions about their breast history and health, choose screening locations, scan available appointments between one week and two years away, and select the one they want. 

If patient responses reveal a health issue, such as a new lump, Direct Scheduling prompts the patient to telephone a scheduler for a diagnostic visit or submit the request as a MyChart message, says Diaz. 

Patient records are reviewed for all mammogram appointments, whether they are made online or over the phone, says Joshua Sankovitch, Epic application coordinator. He adds: “Now that the entire enterprise is moving to Epic, we will have the luxury of expanded insight into the patient’s history, with a single record across all Hopkins locations.”