CASE STUDY – Ascentist Healthcare establishes pediatric ear tube program, streamlining consultation and surgery scheduling, while slashing wait times and boosting revenue.
- Parents of children seeking consultation for ear tube surgery saw wait times of up to 6 months in other traditional hospital setting surgery consultation workflows
- Staff experienced difficulty identifying eligible candidates for the surgery resulting in delays in confirming consultations and, in some cases, led to unnecessary appointments
- Wait times for consultation were extended and prioritization of patients who needed surgery was difficult
- OhMD’s texting enabled parents/care team communication, providing a simple way to navigate an otherwise cumbersome consultation and surgery scheduling process
- Autopilot intake workflow allowed parents of prospective ear tube surgery candidates to text a keyword triggering a series of questions to screen for eligibility without manual intervention
- Upon automated information intake, staff were quickly able to follow up via text to collect additional information and discuss consultation and potential surgery
- Approximately $54,000* in added revenue from ear tubes surgeries scheduled via the Autopilot workflow, plus additional revenue generated from other surgery needs uncovered during consultation (tonsils/adenoids removal, etc.)
- Over 125 incoming consultation inquiries via text within four months, establishing a consistent stream of candidates
- A 56% increase month-over-month in scheduled surgeries via Ascentist’s customized ear tubes consultation request automation powered by OhMD Autopilot
- Over 65% increase month-over-month in consultation requests via their OhMD automated text workflow where consultations can be scheduled within 5 minutes due to efficient eligibility screenings
- Dramatic reduction in surgery wait time – from six months to two weeks.
*Based on data from the Care Calculator by Sidecar Health
Ascentist’s OhMD Story
The founding physicians of Ascentist Healthcare began a small ENT and Audiology group in the 1940’s. Over the past 80 years, the company has expanded into a multi-specialty group with over 60 providers offering services such as plastic surgery and pain management to patients of all ages and demographics from Kansas and Missouri.
In July 2021, Ascentist Healthcare sought out OhMD to provide an alternative patient communication platform to their previous telehealth software.
They implemented OhMD’s HIPAA-compliant texting to improve communication across four locations, with plans to expand to additional locations in the future. Patients found OhMD to be more user-friendly than their previous platform as their messages were sent via text, eliminating the need for logins or portals.
Jenny Tuggle, Ascentist’s Marketing and Project Manager, praised OhMD for its ease of use, saying “It’s a lot easier to navigate between conversations to find a patient.”
As a result of the successful implementation of OhMD, Tuggle and her team had the idea to create a program specifically designed to expedite scheduling for Tympanostomy in children.
The Challenges with Pediatric Surgery Scheduling
Tympanostomy surgery, commonly known as ear tubes surgery, is the most common outpatient surgery performed on children in the US. 1 in every 15 kids will get ear tubes by age three. The surgery itself can be completed in 15 minutes with most children being sent home the day of.
Ascentist discovered that patients going to other organizations in the Missouri and Kansas area were having to wait up to 6 months for an initial consultation to get ear tubes. Tuggle and her team at Ascentist would typically schedule potential candidates several weeks out, only to find out later that those patients often had different diagnoses and may not need surgeries.
It was difficult to determine who was actually eligible for the ear tubes surgery. With over 125 appointments scheduled, they needed to minimize the wait time for appointments and make surgery scheduling easier, so they could treat those who did need surgery faster. They believed they could do it much more efficiently by streamlining the intake and scheduling process.
That’s when Ascentist turned to OhMD’s texting and automated appointment scheduling as a solution to accelerate their ear tubes process.
Using OhMD’s Autopilot, prospective candidates for ear tubes text in the word “TUBES” to request a consultation for an ear tubes surgery. Autopilot then asks a series of questions to screen the patients for eligibility. Answers are sent straight to OhMD for the care team to review. With all the necessary information collected, team members can document their eligibility and schedule them an appointment for surgery with lightning speed.
With Autopilot automatically collecting patient information, Tuggle and team were able to evaluate the eligibility of each patient and efficiently schedule both consultations and surgeries.
Ascentist’s surgery scheduling text intake automation was up and running in less than 3 weeks and the results were just as immediate.
Reducing wait times means more consultations, which means the ability to identify and prioritize patient surgeries. Ultimately, what it means is better patient outcomes and a healthier bottom line.
The average cost of ear tubes surgery is estimated at over $770 in Ascentist’s home state of Kansas. With 70 surgeries their staff was able to schedule since the launch of the program with Autopilot, a nearly 60% increase, ear tubes procedures attributed approximately $54,000 in revenue for the organization.
Additionally, the team saw wait times cut significantly for consultations and surgeries as the weeks progressed. And the reduction in wait time was significant.
Since the launch, Ascentist has seen a markedly shorter appointment wait time compared with other organization wait times they researched before launch. The six month wait times they saw from other hospitals and surgery centers were not the experience patients would get with Ascentist. Instead of months, the team was able to schedule patients for consultation within a week with their new text automation.
Tuggle also enhanced the program by partnering with pediatric groups that would typically refer ear tubes candidates to larger hospitals for surgeries. These pediatric groups would now refer children needing ear tubes to Ascentist knowing that their referrals would be seen and get what the care they needed, quicker. Whether it was through word of mouth or Tuggle’s email blasts, her marketing efforts were paying off.
This created a consistent stream of candidates for Ascentist. They received over 125 consultation inquiries via text within four months of starting the program. Now they receive 3-7 texts a day to request consultation for ear tubes surgery.
With all the necessary consultation information in front of them collected automatically, it is simple to determine if candidates are eligible. Parents have responded with resounding praise and appreciation. Tuggle says, “the biggest piece of feedback that I’ve been getting from parents is that it’s just so easy”.
Impact on the Bottom Line
“This has definitely opened up accessibility for the surgery. A lot of kids will go without this surgery because they can’t get into the children’s hospital or they don’t know that that’s an issue for something that’s such a simple fix.
This program and the use of OhMD, especially because parents can text in when it’s convenient for them, has really made it accessible for more patients.”
OhMD’s two-way texting and Autopilot tool enabled Ascentist Healthcare to revolutionize Tympanostomy surgery scheduling across the Kansas and Missouri area, delivering unprecedented results. By leveraging OhMD, Ascentist Healthcare was able to reduce wait times for ear tubes surgeries while generating tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. Ascentist can now provide patients with faster, more efficient access to the care they need. This achievement underscores the incredible impact that text automation workflows, made possible by OhMD, can have on enhancing accessibility and efficiency in care.