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Automating COVID-19 Scheduling at Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 hospital in Texas and among the top 20 hospitals nationwide. Houston Methodist is the only nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital in the state and is designated as a Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing.


Business Objectives

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the scale of Houston Methodist within the Houston metropolitan area, effective COVID-19 testing became a front and center need for the health system. They were ordering over 1,000 tests per month on top of existing care delivery needs. The system needed a way to make scheduling COVID-19 testing easy for the patient to access and the staff to enable so they could use their call center as a last resort.


COVID-19 testing requires an order from a physician, and before Blockit, Houston Methodist’s process worked like a referral. The provider would send the patient home from the initial physical or virtual visit to wait for the referral call center to contact them via phone to find the best time. Given the time constraints and importance of testing as quickly as possible, the delay to testing and the impact on the call center was high since contacting a patient via phone may require 2-3 attempts over as many days.


To help reduce the time to testing and call center load, Blockit fully automated the scheduling process for Houston Methodist. When an order was generated in Epic for a COVID-19 test during the patient assessment with the provider, the order creation initiated an automated process via Blockit that texted the patient a link to Blockit’s consumer scheduling platform. The patient landed on the COVID-19 testing options, chose their location, and completed scheduling in two clicks. Blockit’s fully integrated care coordination technology assigned the appointment to the original order and patient record directly in the EMR, making the process 100% automated for staff and simple to use for the patient.


Houston Methodist was able to schedule thousands of COVID-19 tests completed within an average less than 24 hours across 10 locations fully synced with their Epic EMR. The fully automated process involved zero staff involvement and led to high patient satisfaction.


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