Utilizing Online Scheduling to Kick-start a Positive Patient Experience

My millennial counterparts don’t have much in common with Generation Z, but there is one thing we can all agree on – picking up the phone to make an actual phone call is a foreign, anxiety-inducing move. And when it comes to healthcare services, picking up the phone to do basic tasks - like booking an appointment and confirming those appointments - leave both providers and their clients with better things to do. That’s why it’s important for any medical practice or mental health clinic to consider digitizing these important but menial tasks.

In this era, patients are making their decision on which provider to book an appointment with from what they can find through internet searches, regardless of specialty. Utilizing modern technology with patient engagement features, such as online directory managers (ODMs), online provider profiles and patient reviews, are all fantastic ways to entice new patients to find your practice. But what really seals the deal?

Offering a way to book an appointment during their search without even having to pick up the phone using online scheduling tools. Even if they aren’t a new patient, studies show that more than 68% of patients are more likely to choose and stick with a provider that offers the flexibility of booking, changing, and cancelling appointments online.The benefits are expansive, and include:


1. Removes the burden of phone scheduling

 
  • Patients are able to book their appointments on their own schedule 24/7, not having to wait for a practice to ‘open their doors’ for scheduling.
  • Patients no longer have to be placed on hold, listening to low-budget music while waiting for their turn to book.
  • Administrative staff can eliminate over two hours of phone time each day using online scheduling. This is based on the average phone call to schedule an appointment being more than eight minutes – with the average practice seeing at least 20 patients a day.


2. Entices New Patients to Book an Appointment with your Practice

 
  • There’s no denying it – nearly everything these days is done online and providing a modern booking experience attracts new and return clientele to your practice.
  • People want options and instead of having a receptionist offer only one day and time to book a visit, client prospects can see an array of days and times to choose from. This provides them with the most optimal time to schedule a visit that works their schedule, meaning they’ll be more likely to show at their visit.


3. Enables Practices to Run More Efficiently

 
  • Practices can set specific ‘available’ appointment windows, setting buffers for time to fill in clinical documentation in between visits.
  • Practices can easily communicate the options for online appointment booking, typically through SMS, email and even through the practice’s website.
  • Medical practices that offer online scheduling typically see a reduction in staff labor, patient waiting time, and no-shows, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.


To Further Build on a Positive Experience for Both Staff and Patients, Consider Also Offering Electronic Patient Intake


The benefits of online scheduling curtail into many other tasks that can also be optimized using modern, digital tools. Standard office practices like patient intake can piggyback off of the online scheduling process, further streamlining front office efforts. Once a patient has completed their appointment request, it’s waiting for the front office staff to review and accept the request.

And when coupled with an integrated clinical platform, it automatically creates the patient chart with applicable details (name, age, phone number, etc.). From there, a practice could leverage electronic patient intake and attach any necessary intake forms to the accepted appointment request. By allowing patients to book appointments and complete their intake in the comfort of their own home, patients can easily see how efficient and thorough a practice is before they even step foot inside the practice!


To Complete a Patient’s Online Appointment Journey, Offer Automated Appointment Reminders


We all know that a provider’s time is incredibly valuable, and things like missed appointments only prevent providers from maximizing their time. It also creates inefficiencies in their workflow. By providing online scheduling, as mentioned earlier, patients can pick the time that works best for them.

However, there are many times when patients need an extra layer of accountability so that they don’t become the dreaded ‘no-show’. The best way to tackle this pesky issue and to ‘seal the deal’ that patients will show up for their appointment, is to send out automated reminders via text and email at specific times prior to the appointment. This is specifically great for specialties like mental health because it gives these clients one less thing to worry about, seeing that they are already facing some type of psychological or emotional stress. In fact, studies show that automated text appointment reminders help to reduce no-shows by up to 38 %.

Your clients have been there, done that, when it comes to wishing that they aren’t put on-hold trying to book an appointment with their provider. Since their schedules (and yours) are busier than ever, and given the competition and extra money patients are spending for healthcare services these days, streamlining this process for your practice will save time for your patients as well as your staff. Learn more about Kareo Online Scheduling and get started today!

About the Author

Emily Pathmajeyan is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Kareo.  She has over 10 year’s of experience in Strategic Marketing and Product Management, and is...

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