The demand for online scheduling is on the rise. In 2016, 58 percent of patients preferred providers that offered the ability to book, change, and cancel appointments online, according to Accenture. By 2019, this number soared to 68 percent.
Clearly, a change is needed if your practice doesn’t offer online appointment booking. Here’s why you need to incorporate this feature into your practice.
Benefits of having an online scheduling system
1. Patients expect it
When people have to pick up the phone to schedule an appointment, your staff offer a limited number of dates and times for them to come into your office. Consequently, more than one-quarter of patients (26 percent) prefer online scheduling because it allows them to choose a convenient appointment time, according to GetApp.
Online scheduling is quickly rising in popularity. Many of your competitors likely offer this feature, and it’s causing patients to gravitate toward their practices instead of yours. Get your competitive advantage back by giving patients what they want.
The Practice Growth Podcast: What patients want, online scheduling edition
2. It reduces call volume
Without an online scheduling system, all appointments have to be booked by phone. This means your front office staff is spending much of their day on the phone completing a task that could easily be automated.
This creates longer hold times for patients who actually do need to speak to someone. It also keeps your staff away from other tasks that require a human touch. Time is money, so the more of it you waste, the bigger the hit to your bottom line.
3. Meet the needs of busy patients
When trying to schedule an appointment, 36 percent of patients find being put on hold a huge waste of time, according to GetApp. Another 19 percent are frustrated by having to book appointments during a provider’s office hours.
Busy patients don’t have time to call your office and make an appointment. These people need online scheduling so they can book at their convenience. No waiting on hold and the ability to make an appointment on a 24/7 basis allows them to fit healthcare into their hectic lives.
4. Get telling analytics
Automating your patient appointment scheduling makes it easy to track data that might otherwise go by the wayside. Your online appointment booking software can provide telling insights, such as your busiest hours and most popular services.
Having this information readily available will make it easier to cater to patient needs. For example, if you learn patients prefer early morning appointments, you might adjust your office hours accordingly.
Knowing what people want and catering to their needs creates higher patient satisfaction levels. This will improve your retention rates and bring more patients into your practice.
5. Minimize no-shows
When patients book appointments by phone, you rely on them to write down the date and time they’re expected in your office. This can easily lead to confusion as to when the appointment is or result in patients forgetting about it altogether.
An online scheduling system doesn’t just allow patients to book appointments virtually — it also reminds them to go. This extra prompt can make all the difference between having a patient keep their appointment or inadvertently being a no-show.
More than one-third of Millennials (37 percent) and 28 percent of Generation Z seek medical providers that offer appointment reminders via email or text message, according to Accenture. This is obviously a coveted feature, so improve the patient experience by investing in online scheduling software.
Modernizing your scheduling system makes life easier for both your patients and staff. This improves the patient experience, thus bringing more business into your practice.
Online scheduling is the future of appointment booking. Remain competitive by giving your scheduling process a much-needed upgrade.
For more on this topic, check out the blog post “4 online patient scheduling opportunities your practice is missing.”