Grantee Spotlight from Maine

Online Scheduling Enhances the Client Experience in Maine

You can do everything online. Make a hair appointment. Schedule car maintenance. Why talk to someone when you can just look at your schedule and find the time that works best?
Shasta Newenham, Communications and Clinical Support Manager for Maine Family Planning
Decorative image of a cell phone to book a telehealth appointment

Maine Family Planning (MFP) is always looking for ways to enhance the client experience across its 18 sites.

After observing that fewer and fewer clients wanted to talk on the phone, MFP adopted an online appointment scheduling option. MFP’s goal was to offer clients the convenience they’ve come to expect from other businesses. The new system has proven popular with clients: Online bookings accounted for about 14% of appointments scheduled in early 2022.

MFP’s online scheduling system, which is embedded within the MFP website, has several features that add value for both clients and sites:

  • The system is fully integrated with MFP’s electronic health record (athenahealth).
  • Both new and existing clients can book appointments through the system.
  • Clients can request an in-person or virtual visit.
  • Clients can submit appointment requests during or after business hours from minutes before an appointment to up to three months in advance.
  • Clients can type their symptoms into the online system (instead of describing them to staff over the phone), which affords them more privacy.

Evelyn Kieltyka, Senior Vice President of Program Services for MFP, shared that this type of clinic innovation requires clinic staff to think and work differently. Instead of thinking narrowly about how to keep a complication from occurring (or reoccurring), she suggested reframing the challenge in the positive. In other words, asking, “What can I do to accommodate the needs of our diverse client population?”

For tools and resources to support making systems more client-centered in your clinic, explore the Patient Experience Improvement Toolkit. If your clinic is looking to meet clients where they are in the digital space, use the messages and graphics in the Promoting Family Planning Services Social Media Toolkit to communicate with clients.