Providing Value for Patients and Your Organization

By now, you know online scheduling is what patients want. Consumers expect and demand this kind of value through convenience and flexibility. Maybe you’ve even suggested purchasing an online scheduling tool but your executive suite can’t justify the cost or your physicians push back because they think it’s too problematic for their already complicated scheduling systems or they just plain don’t want to give up the control.  Satisfying multiple interests, specialties or locations with just one tool might seem impossible. But here’s the key piece of the persuasion puzzle you’re missing: When you provide better value to your consumers, you increase the likelihood they spend their healthcare dollars with you. If you offer them an experience that delights them, you win their engagement, satisfaction and loyalty. What physician or healthcare executive doesn’t want happier, healthier and more repeat customers?

A recent study by Accenture predicts that by 2019, 38% of all healthcare appointments will be scheduled online, with 66% of health systems providing this convenience and 64% of patients using this method of self-scheduling. If you’re having trouble convincing your organization to jump on the bandwagon and offer some version of online scheduling (be it real-time scheduling, online appointment request, etc.), here are 6 compelling reasons that show the benefits are not just for your consumers – offering online scheduling can benefit your organization in a meaningful way.

6 Benefits of Online Scheduling

1. Tell them they’ll schedule more new patients. When consumers search for new healthcare providers online, offering the tools for them to schedule an appointment without having to put down their tablets or make a phone call makes it easier for them to choose your practice or hospital. Not only does this offer the convenience consumers are looking for, it also shows your organization in a more competent and forward-thinking light.

2. Tell them they’ll save money. If an average appointment provides $100 in revenue to a practice, just one more filled, previously empty appointment slot a day could add an additional $24,000 a year to each practice’s your bottom line. Offering online scheduling increases the opportunity for available appointments to be booked, even last minute.

3. Tell them they’ll save staff time and resources. Scheduling an appointment over the phone takes an average of 8 minutes. Usually, some of that time the consumer spends on hold, increasing frustration. Now, imagine the minutes and hours freed up for your organization’s staff to spend caring for patients in the office, if those appointments could be booked online. Faster appointment scheduling without the annoyance of being put on hold plus a more attentive staff during office visits will improve consumer satisfaction on multiple levels.

4. Tell them they’ll reduce no-shows. No-show appointments cost a practice valuable time and money. With automatic email and text appointment reminders built into your online scheduling system, your patients are more likely to show up for their appointments. Plus, your organization’s staff won’t have to spend time making those reminder phone calls.

5. Tell them they can capture more appointment data for better use of the physician’s time. Tied into the amount of time your organization’s staff has to spend on the phone scheduling appointments is the amount of time they have to get into the specifics of why a patient needs an appointment. With drop down menus and open form fields in your online scheduling tool, you can get that critical information before the office visit, better preparing the physician and potentially saving time to see more patients or spend longer with the ones who need it.

6. Tell your executives you can better engage consumers through personalization. When consumers use your online scheduling tool to make new patient appointments, you can gather valuable information about them that will help you offer a more personalized experience before they ever step through your doors. You can provide articles and seminar invitations for additional services suitable to them, send them educational materials to help them cope with chronic conditions or take care of family members with challenging diagnoses and more. Consumers expect a high level of personalization these days, and if you can show them that you care about them as individuals through the specificity of the content you send them, you’re not only giving them what they expect, you’re also making them feel better taken care of from the start.

The data shows consumers want this convenience, and as you get ready to roll out this new technology, you can tackle the challenge by starting with smaller goals. Pick one appointment type, specialty, or region to be your beta group. Once they’ve worked through any growing pains, you can add in other appointments or specialties. Add online scheduling as part of the onboarding for new physicians or practices so they learn the system as their practices ramp up. With online scheduling integrated into these practices from the word go, they’ll have an easier time providing this essential value to their consumers.

Want to learn more about consumer engagement and the tools and services patients value most? Read our post: Patient Engagement, You’re Doing It Wrong.