In the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis, BioReference Laboratories was called on to conduct COVID-19 testing for thousands of people across multiple states in the United States. To manage the volume of bookings, BioReference turned to Skedulo.
Skedulo’s team worked around the clock to develop a tailored solution, which included self-service location specific appointment booking, automatic reminders and a unique QR code for each patient that clinical staff could scan to minimize onsite admin requirements.
Since its launch on May 5, the solution has enabled BioReference to schedule over 100,000 appointments with ease and effectively reduced the time required to tend to each person by almost 50%.
About BioReference Laboratories
BioReference Laboratories, a wholly-owned subsidiary of OPKO Health, is a clinical laboratory that provides testing and related services for the healthcare sector in the United States.
The company works with physicians, clinics, hospitals, care facilities, employers, and government organizations to collect, analyze, and report tests that aid in the diagnosis of approximately 11 million patients each year.
When COVID-19 hit, demand for BioReference’s testing services increased dramatically. BioReference responded by delivering on-the-ground patient testing at 17 pop-up facilities, in addition to providing overall COVID-19 testing services, which saw as many as 1,000 people each day.
BioReference needed a flexible scheduling platform with the capacity to manage thousands of bookings
When the world came under siege following the COVID-19 outbreak, BioReference found itself on the frontline. As a leader in sample collection and testing, the New Jersey-based company was called upon to assist public and private entities with test collection and analysis.
Vinny Pacione, BioReference’s Director of Consumer Digital, says, “The traditional paradigm of sample collection shifted dramatically during COVID-19; it was no longer the normal doctor/patient situation. We were thrust into a new operating mode and had to mobilize quickly to meet demands.”
“The panic level was also very high in the beginning. Initially, we had to shut down all patient service centers until there were defined protocols, such as social distancing. New York then led the way with a drive-thru swab testing model which worked well.”
Vinny says it was the rise in serology (blood) testing that cemented BioReference’s need for an effective scheduling system.
“The nasal swab tests are e!ective in determining if a person has COVID-19 while they are contagious. But serology allows you to test the blood for antibodies, which is needed to gain a better understanding of asymptomatic carriers.”
“New York City sponsored an antibody survey program where people could make an appointment to get a free blood test at a clinic. This then prompted extensive planning around how we could make it work in a safe way and follow social distancing guidelines while managing the anticipated volume of people.”
Skedulo engineers work around the clock to develop a comprehensive solution
BioReference had been in talks with Skedulo before COVID-19 as a solution for managing their mobile phlebotomy. When COVID-19 hit, these mobile needs were quickly replaced by the high demand for serology testing.
Vinny and his team began speaking with Skedulo staff on how they might use Skedulo to assist with scheduling thousands of COVID-19 tests at fixed locations.
“We were looking at acute, short-term needs to solve an immediate problem, while being conscious of where we wanted to be in the longer term as an organization. We wanted a platform that had the speed and agility to get us to where we needed to be straight away, without some big ramp up and huge implementation timeline.”
“We also needed integration points—such as Salesforce—and the flexibility to deploy and make changes on the fly rather than waiting for a programmer. And it was very important to us that Skedulo had all of this functionality within a secure and compliant environment.”
“Skedulo responded, utilizing staff in its global offices to develop a capability that would meet BioReference’s specific needs.”
“The ability of Skedulo’s team to get the platform up and running and ready for the world was amazing. We were ready in a week or two as opposed to the month or two other vendors would need.”
The paperless solution included:
- Self-service customer access to book a location-based appointment in an available time slot
- Confirmation and reminders of the appointment
- A unique QR code that linked to the person’s booking details
When the customer arrives for their appointment, the caregiver scans their QR code and moves the person quickly through the test-taking process. It’s completely contact-free to help meet social distancing guidelines, and removes the need for manual data entry to accelerate the process by almost 50%.
BioReference uses Skedulo to manage 100,000 appointments, 17 testing centers, and hundreds of staff
Susan Aveta, Vice President of Phlebotomy at BioReference, says, “I want to share my thanks and amazement on what Skedulo was able to deploy; the platform has been instrumental in getting our appointment scheduling up and running.”
“I was blown away by the capability of the Skedulo team to quickly give us a solution we’ve been able to use for all our testing events. To date, we have now scheduled 100,000 appointments in less than 3 months. At the height, we had 17 facilities running at the same time, and were managing hundreds of employees.”
Susan says Skedulo has been most beneficial for her group, because it’s helped drive efficiencies on the ground and allowed her to access real-time data to aid in decision making.
“Skedulo has helped me tremendously to be able to pull reports so quickly and use them to predict future volume and staffing needs. I have them at my fingertips and they help me decide if I need to pivot. Sometimes our customers want to know data too, such as how many people made an appointment but didn’t show up. So it’s great that we have that information on hand now.”
“The platform was also very easy for our staff on the ground to use and I haven’t had any complaints, which is incredible.”
“Before Skedulo, it was very challenging to determine what staffing levels were needed. Now I can scale resources up and down based on what the data shows.”
Vinny agrees and says Skedulo has made it much easier for staff at each facility to keep queues down.
“You can imagine—during an 8 hour period we may have over 1,000 people that we need to get in and out the door while maintaining social distancing. This would have been impossible without a robust scheduling system. We’d be looking at 10 minutes or more for every person, which reduces our capacity by half.”
“By using Skedulo, we can get people in and out in 5 or 6 minutes. With our QR code system linking to the initial booking, there was also no need for manual data entry by staff at the facilities. The amount of data entry went down, and data accuracy went up.”
Outside of COVID-19, Vinny says deploying Skedulo has helped BioReference meet other business demands. “The flexibility of Skedulo has been infinitely valuable in helping us accomplish our goals. We can white label and custom tailor it out-of-the-box for our customers who may need very specific experiences around COVID-19.”
Advice for others managing high capacity scheduling during COVID-19
Susan and Vinny acknowledge there is still lots to be done in testing for COVID-19 and hope testing will help the country reopen as fast as possible.
In preparing testing providers in other states for the months ahead, Susan says, “It’s vital to understand what’s happening on the ground and how long a transaction will take. In the pandemic, people are not averse to lining up. But we also don’t want them waiting. So knowing how long a transaction takes and how to book in people to minimize wait lines is important.”
“Don’t underestimate data,” says Vinny. “Have a way to capture, analyze, and leverage data to shape operations and a plan to do so right from the outset. In the early days, everyone was operating on a wing and a prayer. Now we can have a plan and specific ways to define, measure, analyze, and improve which is key to success.”