5 benefits of online scheduling for healthcare practices

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As today’s healthcare consumers demand greater convenience, healthcare brand loyalty is on the decline.1 This means patients who were once faithful to a specific healthcare provider or group will switch doctors for an experience they want— and many have already done so. In fact, more than one-third of patients have left a healthcare provider in the past two years with a lack of access cited as a top reason for making the switch.2

How can independent healthcare practices prevent attrition? Improving patient convenience and access will often satisfy patients better than competing medical groups. Online scheduling does both.

If your practice doesn’t yet offer patients online scheduling, it’s time to add this tool to your website and online profiles. This basic digital opportunity can provide immediate patient satisfaction: Seventy-three percent of patients prefer to schedule their healthcare appointments online.3

The transition to online scheduling gives your practice a competitive advantage, but also reduces the administrative burden on your busy front office staff. With fewer schedule-related tasks, your team can focus on in-person visits and important patient requests. Here’s what you and your business stand to gain when you invest in digital appointment booking.

5 benefits of online scheduling for healthcare practices

1. Patients choose practices that offer online scheduling

With convenience a top priority for today’s busy healthcare consumer, online scheduling is a key differentiator that can help drive new patient acquisition and longer-term practice growth. Aside from insurance coverage, patients list convenience as the top factor that influences their healthcare choice.4 Since scheduling is often a patient’s first interaction with a healthcare practice, it’s critical to present a seamless, convenient process that makes a great first impression.

When patients are offered online scheduling as an option, they can book or request an appointment when it’s convenient for them — without having to call your front desk or scheduler during business hours, or play phone tag. Online scheduling can also help you convert website visitors into new patients when your phone line is busy or office is closed.

2. Patients can schedule on their own terms

The rise of healthcare consumerism has made traditional ‘office hours’ a dated concept. In most industries, the use of chatbots and 24/7 customer service support is standard. Conversely, healthcare practices accommodate appointment requests only between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (often with a break for lunch!) For patients who work and manage other commitments during the day, this lack of access is immensely frustrating. 

In fact, nearly one in five patients say their biggest scheduling pain point is having to wait for a practice to open — 42 percent say their biggest nuisance is being put on hold.5

Online scheduling is a logistical life-saver when your office is closed and when phone lines are tied up. But it also delivers convenience to patients who simply prefer the flexibility and ease of online scheduling, regardless of time of day.

All PatientPop practices offer an easy-to-use online scheduling system for patients right on their practice’s website. Advanced features such as web-to-text functionality even allow patients to request an appointment via text message directly from the website, offering an even higher level of convenience.

42 percent of patients say their biggest scheduling pain point is being put on hold.5

3. Online patient scheduling helps fill appointments gaps

Successful independent physician practices keep a full schedule by maximizing their appointment volume. Unfortunately, patient no-shows and last minute cancellations render those appointments useless, leading to lost revenue and hindering practice growth.

Fortunately, if your practice offers online scheduling, patients looking for a time-sensitive appointment can check your practice’s up-to-date availability without delay — often choosing those appointment slots that would otherwise go unfilled or lost to a no-show. 

Most online scheduling platforms also offer automated appointment confirmations and reminders, designed to also help reduce no-shows and late cancellations. Because missed appointments mean missed revenue, using these simple digital tools to minimize schedule disruptions supports your bottom line and long-term practice growth strategy. 

4. Online scheduling reduces burdensome administrative tasks for staff

Healthcare practices across the country are managing record-high levels of employee burnout.  A recent survey showed that nearly one in five healthcare workers quit their jobs during the pandemic.6 Another study indicates that roughly half of all U.S. healthcare workers are overwhelmed by the demands of their job in the wake of the pandemic.7

How can practice owners better support their employees during these unprecedented times? By reducing tedious, menial tasks, increasing duties that provide value, and streamlining office operations. On all fronts, online scheduling can help.

At practices that don’t offer online scheduling, front desk staff are performing a juggling act that’s just not sustainable. Between scheduling appointments, taking incoming phone calls and inquiries, and meeting the needs of patients during their visits, the workload is overwhelming. Many practices are wasting hours each week scheduling patients manually when online scheduling systems can meet patients’ preferences for convenience while also freeing up front desk staff time. 

Using online scheduling allows busy practice staff to focus on other activities for the practice — they can accomplish more during the workday without the need for overtime, yet another contributor to burnout. 

5. Online scheduling allows staff to deliver a better patient experience

Even before a patient’s first visit, online scheduling is setting the stage for positive patient satisfaction. Research indicates that 59 percent of patients are frustrated by waiting on hold and the inconvenient office hours related to scheduling appointments by phone.8

Giving patients the option to self-schedule directly from your website means they don’t have to work around your office hours to make an appointment. They also don’t have to sit on hold while your front desk staff manages other calls or duties. 

According to PatientPop research, the ability to schedule an appointment digitally is one of five top digital functionalities patients want most, preferred by more than 60 percent of patients.9

59 percent of patients are frustrated by waiting on hold and the inconvenient office hours related to scheduling appointments by phone.8

Staff who are less burdened by phone calls can then focus on providing patients with a better in-office experience. They have time to offer a welcoming greeting, answer questions and facilitate an efficient appointment. 

For those practices using digital marketing tactics to grow their practice, online scheduling is a highly-effective call-to-action that can improve conversion rates — driving practice growth and improving your marketing return on investment. Practices that don’t offer online scheduling risk losing prospective patients who land on your website, but don’t see an easy way to book an appointment. 

Implementing online scheduling is a sound investment in practice efficiency, and doing so can have a positive impact on both patient and staff satisfaction. PatientPop offers a comprehensive appointment scheduling system that includes online scheduling across a practice’s entire web presence, plus automated appointment confirmations and reminders. It’s all integrated into a single practice growth platform designed to help practices enhance all touchpoints along the patient journey. Learn more at patientpop.com

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5 benefits of online scheduling for healthcare practices