According to an Accenture survey, 77% of patients consider it important to be able to book, change, or cancel appointments electronically. This helps explain why more healthcare providers are adding online booking to their websites. The problem is that many prospective patients look for physicians on websites other than your own. That’s why you should explore third-party scheduling.
In this blog, we define third-party scheduling, share when and how it is used, and discuss why it’s a must-have for your 2018 healthcare marketing strategy.
Third-party scheduling is when a patient books an appointment at your healthcare practice with the help of a third party, such as a website. “We’re seeing more third-party platforms offer services like scheduling that could otherwise be delivered on a provider’s website,” says Joel Headley, PatientPop director of local SEO and marketing.
Two well-known third-party scheduling websites are Yelp, which offers Yelp Booking, and Google, which has Reserve with Google. Although popular for spas and fitness clubs, Reserve with Google is not yet available for healthcare practices. Headley says that could change this year, however.
“You’ll see more platforms deliver services that could otherwise be delivered directly on a provider’s website, so ensuring people are able to use those platforms for services at your practice is going to be important,” he says.
According to Headley, scheduling on third-party platforms can integrate with a healthcare practice’s calendar, so providers needn’t worry about burdening their front office staff.
Delivering a quality patient experience has become increasingly important for healthcare practices. When patients are satisfied with their service and care, they are likely to return to the practice. They are also likely to recommend the practice to their friends, as well as perfect strangers online.
Patient experience begins long before a person walks through your practice doors. Providers must make the right impression online, and that includes making it easy to book appointments. Third-party scheduling is becoming more prominent because it is convenient for patients.
On Yelp, for example, prospective patients who visit your page simply click the “Book now” button. They are then directed to a calendar with your availability where they can select a time, fill in their information, and book. An email is sent to confirm the appointment with your front desk team. Once it confirmed, the patient is notified via email.
Prospective patients can also book on Facebook. Providers who enable this feature have a “Book Now” button at the top of their pages. The button directs prospective patients to the online scheduling feature on your website.
Don’t force patients to leave the website where they found you to book an appointment. If you want to ensure top-notch patient experience from the onset, make scheduling with your office easy, fast, and available on multiple platforms.
To learn more about third-party scheduling and other healthcare marketing trends on the rise in 2018, download our whitepaper 2018 Healthcare Marketing Trends for Providers.
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