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Aug 03, 2022

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Blog

Online Appointment Scheduling Helps Staff and Patients

By Healthgrades Staff

Taking your scheduling system online can save your staff valuable time while elevating the patient experience—here’s how.

The patient experience doesn’t begin when a healthcare consumer walks through a practice’s front doors—it starts when they book their first appointment. And nowadays, how they book that appointment matters. Around 68 percent of healthcare consumers say they prefer health systems that offer online appointment scheduling (OAS) services, with 94 percent of patients willing to switch to a new practice that offers this convenient feature.

Did you know that online appointment scheduling also offers benefits for medical staff? According to Solutionreach, the average patient phone call takes eight minutes, leaving healthcare workers little time to tend to visitors. Add intake, billing, and other administrative tasks, and employee burnout takes its toll. Online appointment scheduling helps foster a more efficient and effective working environment for medical staff.

Let’s dive deeper into how implementing an online scheduling solution helps staff and patients.

How Online Scheduling Benefits Patients

Thanks to corporate giants like Amazon, Walgreens, and Netflix, patients expect the same accessibility and convenience to translate to their healthcare experience. A 2019 study by Bookedin found that 46 percent of all bookings across industries were done online by clients, with this percentage expected to increase. Some key benefits of online scheduling for patients include: 

1. Booking Beyond Office Hours

Most medical practices are open during the standard weekday 9-to-5 schedule, but this is also when most patients work. These limited hours make it harder for patients to carve out time to make appointments and funnel many patients to a practice’s phone lines. Recent GetApp research shows that 59 percent of patients get frustrated with limited office hours and long wait times, which can discourage them from revisiting a practice. With online appointment scheduling, patients can select an appointment time that’s best for them at any time of day.

2. Promoting a Better In-Office Experience

Scheduling makes up a large portion of a hospital’s office load, but you can streamline that process with online booking. When medical staff can spend more time taking care of patients and less time juggling back-to-back phone calls, it elevates a practice’s standard of care and overall patient experience by creating a friendly, personal, and attentive environment.

3. Filling Up Last-Minute Slots

The average wait time between booking and the day of the appointment in a metro area is 24 days, but online scheduling drops that wait time down to around eight days. Still, those wait times could be even better. Patients can miss out when last-minute openings bubble up if a health system doesn’t have an online appointment scheduling service. A real-time appointment calendar can help patients with urgent needs visit a doctor sooner, allowing for better treatment and care.

4. Helping Patients Remember Appointment Times 

Busy schedules can mean missed appointments, but studies show that no-shows are reduced by 29 percent with an online appointment scheduling system. Automated reminder emails and text messages inform patients of their upcoming doctor’s visit and allow them to confirm, cancel, or reschedule immediately by either replying or clicking on a custom link. This extra step lets patients know that your practice values their time and is willing to accommodate any last-minute changes.

How Online Scheduling Benefits Medical Staff

As patients enjoy a seamless online booking process, healthcare offices enjoy a more manageable workload. During the pandemic, around 1 in 5 medical employees quit their jobs, causing a worker shortage that many hospitals and practices still haven’t fully recovered from. Online appointment scheduling helps ease employee stress and increase productivity by:

1. Optimizing Calendar Capacity

No-shows and empty appointment slots cost practices $159 billion each year. Patients who schedule appointments online see real-time availability and can schedule a visit to fill up open slots. Automated reminders also prevent patients from forgetting about their appointments, ensuring that patients are consistently coming to your practice.

2. Keeping Patient Data Safe

Online scheduling solutions are often part of patient management software programs. A highly secure and encrypted virtual file cabinet makes patient data easier to retrieve, organize, and edit when needed, without worrying about confidentiality breaches common with manual processes.

3. Facilitating Better Information Management

Similarly, practices can use online scheduling services as an opportunity to send intake forms to patients in advance and gather personal information that can be difficult to collect over the phone. You can organize this data more effectively and refer to it quickly, saving valuable time as patient volumes pick up.

Advertise OAS Services With Healthgrades

By implementing online appointment scheduling, you’re setting your medical staff up for success and creating a seamless customer experience that will keep patients coming back. Healthgrades can help you further drive conversions by advertising in-demand services to the largest audience of low-funnel healthcare consumers searching for care online.

By becoming a Healthgrades partner, you’ll reach the largest audience of consumers searching for care online and will be able to integrate online appointment scheduling for in-person and telehealth services into your Healthgrades profiles to give patients a fast and easy way to appoint. Plus, you’ll quickly see a return on your investment—67 percent of consumers who visit Healthgrades profile pages make an appointment within a week. Contact us today to learn more about our advertising solutions.