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4 online patient scheduling opportunities your practice is missing

Maximize your online bookings by taking advantage of these online patient scheduling options.

Online patient scheduling is expected to deliver $3.2 billion in value to U.S. healthcare systems by the end of 2019, according to Accenture. By that time, 66 percent of healthcare systems in the U.S. will offer the ability to book appointments online.

If your practice already offers online patient scheduling, it’s time to start using it to your advantage. According to a recent survey, 81 percent of patients would schedule a doctor’s appointment online if they had the ability, and 40 percent would even consider switching providers for this convenience. Keep reading to learn how to maximize online bookings at your practice.

Places to prompt patients to schedule appointments online

Practice website

Your practice website tells your story. Potential patients visit it to learn more about the services offered, and existing patients often check back when they need your contact information.

Incorporate an online scheduling tool onto your website, and work it into the content in a manner that speaks to the right patient. Include a call-to-action (CTA) on multiple pages, so it’s easy for patients to book an appointment. If people have to search around for the one page where online patient scheduling is available, they might give up and move on to another provider.

Considering 77 percent of patients place a high value on the ability to book, change, or cancel an appointment electronically, including this feature on your website is a must. If you don’t, most patients will assume it isn’t offered.

More information: How to encourage bookings using your healthcare practice website

Directory websites

When searching for a provider, prospective patients don’t always land on your website first. Many learn of your practice on third-party directory websites such as Yelp, so allowing them to book appointments directly on these sites just makes sense. (Fun fact: Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman was inspired to create the review platform in 2004 after searching to no avail for doctor recommendations in San Francisco, according to the company blog.)

PatientPop recently expanded its Universal Scheduling service to incorporate 52 new search and business directory websites. This enhancement allows patients to request or schedule appointments via an even larger network of third party sites — i.e., Yahoo, MapQuest, Citysearch, just to name a few — significantly expanding your reach.

Healthcare marketing trends: Third-party scheduling

Social media profiles

You maintain a robust social media presence to stay connected with your patients. Since you frequently share updates that appear in their newsfeeds, it’s possible they’re visiting your social media profile(s) on a regular basis.

Make booking an appointment easier than ever by placing an online patient scheduling tool directly on your social media profile(s). If people have to navigate to your website, they could put the task off until later, which could ultimately cause them to delay care, forgo it entirely, or choose another provider who makes online scheduling more accessible.

Google Posts

If you’re not taking advantage of Google Posts to enhance your online patient scheduling, it’s time to change that. A relatively new Google My Business feature, Google Posts is found in your search results and in Google Maps under your profile.

This exciting element offers many benefits, including the ability for patients to book an appointment at your practice without having to visit your website. PatientPop conducted a test with thousands of listings with active homepage and appointment links. Those with a Book/Reserve call-to-action realized a 7.7 percent increase in bookings compared to the weeks before we instituted Google Posts.

It doesn’t get much easier than making an appointment without leaving a Google search page. If new patients have to choose between two highly-rated providers, there’s a chance they’ll go with the one who makes booking an appointment a seamless experience.

Offering online patient scheduling gives you an edge on the competition, but get the most from it by maximizing your reach. Allowing patients the flexibility to book online appointments from multiple sites provides the ultimate convenience, which fares well for everyone.

For more on this topic, check out the blog post “5 reasons healthcare practices should offer online scheduling.”

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