Let’s face it, booking healthcare appointments online has become the new norm as patients no longer wish to wait on the phone. It has been the standard in hospitality and other sectors for a long-time, but unquestionably patients are demanding this consumer experience in their day-to-day healthcare experiences.
This has forced more and more healthcare providers to transition from using paper diaries to using online appointment scheduling, not only as a matter of necessity, but also in response to their patients’ growing demand for flexibility, convenience, and reliability in the services that they use.
What is an appointment scheduler?
An appointment scheduling system is a powerful solution that helps you, the service provider, not only to offer online bookings and manage appointments but also to automate the whole process. Integrating with existing diary management systems is a key feature to drive higher levels of digital adoption and usage,
A well-designed online appointment scheduling system is a win-win for both patients and clinicians. Cutting patient waiting times, reducing “Did Not Attend [DNA]” rates and allowing front-end staff to focus on higher value activity other than patient management are just a few of the numerous advantages.
Why should you invest in an optimised appointment scheduling solution for your healthcare practice?
1. Greater accessibility and choice for patients
According to recent statistics, 40% of healthcare appointments are booked after business hours. This indicates that appointment uptake can be improved by accepting bookings 24/7, as well as allowing your patients to change or cancel appointments outside of opening hours, without the assistance of a staff member. By eliminating the back and forth communication between patients and staff you are also creating a smoother, more convenient booking experience.
When you use an automated online booking solution, the communication with your patients is handled automatically. Once an appointment is booked, the patient receives an automatic confirmation and will be able to cancel or reschedule without having to call or rely on a receptionist. This not only offers greater flexibility but also reduces waiting times and makes your services more accessible.
2. Minimise no shows
Missed appointments have a big impact on your business as they result in loss of revenue. So the important question that healthcare practices need to ask is: why do patients miss appointments?
The answer is simple. The most common reasons for missing medical appointments according to recent research are:
- forgetting that you have an appointment
- difficulty cancelling appointments
- inconvenient appointment time
- being too ill to attend
- no longer needing appointments due to resolved health issues.
The above data reveals that by providing patients with their preferred method for scheduling appointments as well as the ability to cancel or change appointments, you are more likely to lower your DNAs rate.
DNAs could be reduced further by implementing automated, timely text reminders to make patients aware of their upcoming appointments. This way you eliminate any doubt about whether your patient has forgotten about their appointment or not. As a result, you could reduce no-shows by up to 40% with a simple appointment reminder .
3. Improve your operational efficiency
An online appointment booking system can help you fill in appointment gaps and last minute cancellations. It guarantees the elimination of double bookings and other appointment errors by establishing a streamlined process that reduces employee and patient dissatisfaction and frustration. Real-time calendar visibility and accessibility is the key to maximising the effectiveness of diary management in healthcare.
A simple but intelligent appointment booking system should enable you to collect data securely from patients when they book appointments online. Collecting information about your patient’s overall health and the reason for their appointment as well as any current treatment leads to better patient outcomes and quicker referrals. Having this information in advance through pre-screening forms and questionnaires will utilise the time during their appointment with the focus shifting towards treating patients and providing a better consultation.
Increase the efficiency of your practise
Many health care businesses struggle with improving and optimising their scheduling approach and while there are numerous appointment scheduling and management solutions available, only a handful are specifically designed for the healthcare industry.
When selecting an appointment booking system for your organisation, you should look for a solution that is tailored to the needs of the healthcare practice of your size. Choosing an appointment scheduling system that has scalable features will empower both your patients and your clinicians and support your future growth.
Find out more about the features you should look for in an appointment scheduling software here.