Online appointment scheduling systems have been designed in response to the problems of the traditional ones. In Iran, most outpatient clinics and our study population suffer from high patient' no-show rate and long waiting times because of not using online appointment scheduling system. In this study, the effect of an online appointment scheduling system was investigated by comparing the evaluation metrics of appointment scheduling before and after the intervention. This before-after pilot study was conducted on ten outpatient clinics with different specializations. Five clinics were selected as the intervention group and five clinics as the control group. A checklist was designed to evaluate appointment scheduling metrics. These checklists were completed from April to July 2017 in the pre-implementation phase and from September to December 2017 in the post-implementation phase. The evaluation metrics were evaluated before and after the implementation of the online appointment scheduling system. A total of 470 checklists containing 9034 patients' information and 460 checklists containing 9130 patients' information were completed at the pre- and post-implementation phases, respectively. There were significant positive effect on the improvement of the three metrics means, including Patient waiting time (38.2 min before vs. 23.8 min after the intervention), No-show rate (25% before vs. 11% after the intervention), and Physician punctuality (-30 min before vs. -14.2 min after the intervention). The use of an online appointment scheduling system was successful in improving several evaluation metrics in our target population and resulted in continued usage in intervention group clinics.
Keywords: Evaluation metrics; Online appointment scheduling system; Outpatient clinics.