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A Case Study in Health Innovation: Lessons Learned in Deploying Online Patient Self-Scheduling

Posted on April 05, 2017 by Marco Lo

My partners and I started Magenta Health, a family medical clinic in Toronto, as an opportunity to innovate, particularly when it comes to the use of technology to improve patient access, convenience, and care.

Having deployed a number of technologies in our practice, including patient e-booking, the subject of our successful LEADing Practice Challenge submission, we've been through our share of struggles, challenges, and mistakes. Here are three key lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Plan to iterate, then iterate some more: While planning is, of course, a good idea, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to plan for every possibility. We’ve learned to push forward knowing full well we’ll run into problems - we just need to plan to quickly iterate and make changes as necessary. This approach has helped us move quickly and to focus our resources on real-life problems, instead of theoretical ones.
  2. Listen to your stakeholders: For us, this meant listening to our patients, our physicians, and our staff. We’ve found unsolicited criticism to be particularly valuable as it often reveals a different perspective or gaps in our own thinking. We’ve learned to treat every question as an opportunity to ask, “How can we do better in the future?”
  3. Choose a vendor carefully: Choosing the wrong vendor can easily sink a project. Questions to ask include:
    1. How long has the company been in business?
    2. How mature is the product or service being offered?
    3. Who are their other customers?
    4. What do their online reviews say?
    5. Do they understand your organization’s needs?
    6. Are they responsive to your requests?
    7. What support do they provide you and your patients?
    While pricing is of course relevant, in our experience, there’s more than a grain of truth to the saying “you get what you pay for”. For more details on the e-booking solution we use and the results we’ve achieved, check out our LEADing Practices Challenge entry.

I hope the lessons we learned the hard way will help you deploy your own innovations successfully. Share your own in the comment section below!

Have a comment about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

MarcoLoMarco Lo
Marco Lo is a family physician and co-founder of Magenta Health, a family medicine clinic in downtown Toronto that leverages technology to improve patient care and access. His interests include both Quality Improvement - a systemic approach to improving health systems - as well as technology design, development, and deployment.

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