4 Benefits of Patient Scheduling SoftwarePosted: December 1, 2021 - By Health Dev
One of the primary factors of high patient satisfaction is the ability to easily and conveniently schedule appointments. That’s why it’s so important for doctors to take into account the means of booking that patients prefer, which in this day and age most often means an internet-enabled patient scheduling platform.
Embracing new technologies is not just about “keeping up with the Joneses.” Rather, a health practice using an online scheduling tool can actually reduce its overhead costs, earn more revenue, and run a tighter, more efficient office.
Embracing Medical Appointment Scheduling Guidelines
Does adopting online scheduling mean dropping traditional patient scheduling completely in favor of current and future technologies? Not necessarily, but scheduling patients and avoiding double-booking has always been a logistically challenging part of any physician’s job.
Scheduling by hand takes valuable time from the front desk staff. New ways to schedule patients effectively should be embraced as long as they promise to aid, and not hinder, the running of a healthcare practice. Online scheduling tools can help increase patient satisfaction and free up time for front desk staff.
Online Patient Scheduling Platforms Are What Patients Prefer
In an internet-enabled society where 85% of Americans own a smartphone, having an online appointment scheduler is vital for patient satisfaction. Whenever there’s competition—and there certainly is in healthcare—making the ability to procure your services as simple as possible should be the first thing on your mind.
Imagine this scenario: You invest all this time and money into setting up the website and social media pages for your medical practice, only to be reliant on traditional appointment scheduling over the phone.
Patients who find you on social media may want to schedule their own appointments right away, but lack the ability to do so without looking up your number and calling you directly. That used to be a “convenient” option, but times have changed. Patients like to make appointments with a few easy clicks, no muss, no fuss.
The online scheduling tool also lets them interact with your medical practice at virtually any time of day, whether you have a staff in the office or not. That means you’re never unavailable to your valuable patients.
Patients will be able to send you important information and confirm appointments whenever it’s convenient for them, even in the middle of the night. Online scheduling removes accessibility and availability barriers, providing maximum convenience to your patients.
Streamline Tracking of Patient Appointments
You’re missing out on a lot of patient data by not tracking appointments more rigorously. In addition to appointment scheduling, online patient scheduling software will automatically generate a record of met and missed appointments, allowing you to identify important trends. Which patient visits tend to take the most time out of your day? Do afternoon appointments take longer than morning? How are your patient no show rates doing this month?
This sort of data is critical for your medical practice to gather and understand. Best of all, the process is automated from beginning to end, so your scheduling data will be available for you whenever you need to access it.
Don’t Miss Out On Patient Insights
That data is your first step toward running a more efficient medical practice, since you can use those insights to modify existing policies or completely change how you run things. It can help you avoid double booking and even automate your process for rescheduling a canceled appointment.
All these things save you and your staff time. Where previously you had to allocate a specific staff member to oversee scheduling conflicts, now you can cut costs by redirecting that time to other, more important task.
Patients who value the ability to easily reschedule can simply log in to their phone and change their upcoming appointment as they see fit. You no longer have to divert a nurse or staff member to things like that, letting them instead handle more consequential patient communication.
Reducing Wait Times During Patient Visits
As many as 30% of patients have actually stopped using a doctor’s office because of the long wait time. Many more cite wait times as one of the most critical factors in how they determine which medical practice they’ll be seen at. Although that can be bad news if your clinic isn’t running smoothly, it’s excellent news for those who implement patient scheduling software. Wait times and efficiency are one of the primary things they can expect to improve by taking advantage of modern technology.
How? The entire patient scheduling system incentivizes the smooth operation of your medical practice. Patients can schedule appointments at virtually any time of day using their mobile devices, minimizing from the start one of the biggest hurdles in appointment scheduling. Many are reluctant enough to see a doctor as it is, so you don’t want an inconvenient appointment scheduling system to stand in the way.
Empowering Patients to Control Their Appointment Times
Patients who schedule their own office appointments may likewise feel a greater sense of personal commitment, making them less likely to try to reschedule and much less likely to burden you with a no show appointment. Moreover, inefficient scheduling is one of the primary causes of wait times in the office proper. That can negatively affect the entire medical practice and hurt your professional reputation, particularly if a sick patient has to spend hours in the waiting room.
Installing and maintaining patient scheduling software, on the other hand, can help you cut down on patient issues by making sure they only confirm appointments they can actually attend. With online scheduling, your medical practice will have a detailed understanding of its own daily schedule, knowing just how much time to afford each patient in the lineup, thereby reducing the patient wait list considerably. Inefficient systems management, not overbooking, is the real cause of most long wait times.
A Patient Scheduling System Improves the Office Experience
How important is it for you that your doctors and staff members operate at the top of their game? Mental energy is a limited resource, and maintaining outdated patient communication systems can gradually degrade your team’s ability to work as effectively as they otherwise could.
One of the leading causes of stress and burnout for medical practitioners is the abundance of needless busy work traditional communication and scheduling systems often necessitate.
The benefits aren’t just limited to your staff. With a traditional patient communication system, your would-be patients have to call the front desk to schedule their appointments, often engaging in long and somewhat extraneous conversations with a staff member in the process.
That inevitably slows down the entire office process, forcing you to divert resources to a scheduling process that could operate more smoothly if it were automated. Your patients who are sick or in need of attention will then be able to call and speak to a live person instead of getting put on hold unnecessarily.
Respecting Time Goes Both Ways
Just as you expect your patients to value your time by showing up, your patients expect you to be available when they need you most. A long wait time when in an urgent situation will endear you to no one. What’s more, patients who lead busy lives won’t want to take time out of their day to sit down and call your office, even if they’re able to get through to a staff member in a reasonable time.
The traditional process is, frankly, inefficient, and today’s patient is more likely to turn somewhere else rather than wade through an outdated process. For example, a truly effective patient scheduling platform will include automated reminders for your patients. Your practice can customize appointment reminders according to a range of parameters by, for instance, sending out reminders by text or phone up to the very hour of a scheduled appointment.
That’s important because most medical practices suffer lost revenue from no shows. Setting up a system of frequent appointment reminders can help reduce your no show rates and ensure you actually fill your scheduled appointments.
The Bottom Line
So no, it’s not about “keeping up with the Joneses” or with anyone else. Medical technology moves fast, but individual practices are, understandably slow to adopt new methods and techniques because they are accustomed to the systems they already have in place. When you’re dealing with people’s health, sticking with known methods that you’re comfortable with isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That said, we’re talking about scheduling, something which has long been the bane of medical professionals everywhere. New scheduling technology that can alleviate some of that burden is a welcome change to the industry. It can help you:
- Better serve your busy or anxious patients.
- Reduce no show rates and increase staff flexibility.
- Generate valuable patient data and insight to help streamline your work.
- Meet patients where they’re at and give them the service that they demand in this day and age.
WebMD PracticePro offers a comprehensive patient appointment scheduling suite, along with a wide range of other features to benefit the entire patient experience from beginning to end. Contact us today to request a demo or learn more about our service package.