Healthcare facilities and wellness agencies have been receiving an increasing number of patients as people have become more health conscious and many procedures have come under coverage. While this has obviously benefited the industry, many organizations are struggling to deal with the huge volume of patients and appointment scheduling.
It turns out that many clinics and hospitals still rely on telephones for manage appointments. They don’t realize it’s a time-consuming process and ineffective in this age of internet connectivity.
To offer patients a superior level of service and save time and money you need a new age online appointment booking software. Many patients don’t prefer to undertake the hassle of making a phone call when they can book an appointment online in few seconds.
Even the senior population is moving towards adopting the smartphone and internet while the Millennials have already proved their dependence on technology. It’s imperative to make a change to stay in business and exploit the increased flow of patients effectively.
What is an Online Appointment Booking System?
On a basic level online medical appointment scheduler is used by patients to make reservations or book appointments using their smartphone, tablet or computer. The users access a ‘Book Now’ button placed in the mobile appointment scheduler app or on the company website.
An online appointment management system has far more advanced and useful purposes which we will discuss later in our post.
Medical, healthcare and wellness agencies can use the functionalities of an online doctor appointment scheduling program for various purposes owing to its flexibility. You can use it to-
- Schedule appointments of patients for doctors, treatment or services
- Make a reservation of specific procedures such as vaccines and flu shots
- Schedule on-premise events, conferences and seminars
- Register patients in your database automatically
- Consult doctors online
- Upload and share medical documents
- Access a list of doctors with different specializations and mark your favorite
- Manage patient and doctor information
- Edit or reschedule appointments
- Send auto reminder and notifications to patients for effective follow-up
- Generate reports and analysis
The appointment booking and management solution can prove useful in many occasions to automate work or facilitate management of appointments and patients depending upon your business environment.
Benefits of Online Appointment Booking Solution for Healthcare and Wellness Industry
Online doctor appointment scheduling tools save time both for patients and the clinic. Patients don’t need to take time off from their busy schedules and make a phone call. They also don’t have to go through long wait times before someone picks up the call and can avoid being put on hold.
It just takes a few minutes for the patients to enter their details on your web booking platform or mobile app and get a confirmed appointment.
A medical appointment scheduler lets your employees focus on other important tasks than spend hours scheduling patients. Let’s say a healthcare facility of medium size takes or schedules around 100 appointments in a day. Your employee needs 5 minutes on the phone to take down details of each patient, check the availability of doctors and confirm the appointment- that makes it 500 minutes in a day.
You spend around 8 hours per day just for scheduling appointments! You can completely automate the processes and save a huge amount of time using an online booking system.
The solution also comes with options for automating other tasks like sending reminders, bills, and notifications freeing up time for your staff.
Cut Costs and Increase Profits
You just saw how an automatic appointment booking system saves precious hours of your staff’s time. And as you know, time saved by your employees results in reduced expenses and automating processes can drive up the revenues.
Your wellness facility doesn’t need to engage an employee in handling appointments. That means you save up on their salary which can be a big benefit for small and medium business- you need to pay more than $30,000 as salary for an office assistant.
It has also been found that use of online appointment booking systems reduces the number of ‘no-shows.’ Phone appointments attract an average of 14% ‘no-shows,’ i.e., patients who don’t turn up for their appointments.
With auto patient reminders and messages, your patients are more likely to turn up. If an appointment in your healthcare facility costs $ 150 and you have five patients missing out on each day- that translates to a loss of $750 daily you can make up with an online doctor appointment scheduling tool!
Book Appointments 24/7
Not all businesses can keep an employee round the clock for scheduling appointments. Most facilities need patients to call in during the working hours to book their appointments. This causes an inconvenience to patients as it may be difficult for them to find time during the day to make the call.
With online appointment booking website or a mobile app, you can afford to offer 24/7 appointment booking without even paying for a human representative. You can take in appointments all day and night long without missing any opportunities. Also, many people now prefer to make online appointments; it is far easier and less time-consuming.
Considerations to Make
Healthcare, medical and wellness facilities come with their own set of unique business aspects. The online appointment booking process that you use must be tailored to your industry and be able to meet its specific objectives.
HIPAA Compliance and Security
Appointment scheduling solutions come under the regulation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as it involves an exchange of patient information and online interaction. A reliable solution will help you meet HIPAA guidelines by assisting your internal policies and operations.
The security and privacy policies of the medical appointment scheduler should be according to HIPAA guidelines. Look for features such as SSL encryption, multiple user access levels, system-user identifiers via password and login, regular backups and robust security protocols along with advanced physical server protection- all are required under HIPAA.
While the system will help you become HIPAA compliant, your organization should also implement strong internal policies and practices to protect patient information and privacy. You should be able to customize the appointment booking solution to secure the patient and healthcare data.
The cost of the online doctor appointment scheduling software depends on its complexity and scope of functions. If you run a small clinic, then a basic tool with a monthly subscription will be adequate for your purposes.
But if you have a hospital or a big medical facility, your needs will be comprehensive and expansive. You will need scheduling for different types of patients, activities, services, and treatments. The solution should also be able to incorporate all your locations as serve as a central management system.
It is natural for a comprehensive medical appointment booking software to cost more. But many providers offer attractive discounts and affordable rates for advanced users keeping it cost effective.
It’s a no-brainer that any tools or resources you choose for your organization should be dependable and provide service for many years.
You must check the reputation of the provider and the quality of their product. The internet offers easy ways to check for reviews, ratings, and testimonials left by clients.
The vendor shouldn’t also have any problem in giving you references of past clients from the same industry. You can call them or send an email to find out their level of satisfaction before choosing the final product.
Features and Functionality
This will again depend on the specific requirements of your business. All online appointment booking programs have some common features like web appointments, automatic scheduling and so on.
But if you are an advanced user with comprehensive needs, you will need high-end features. You can think of functions such as online video consultation, patient and doctor management, document uploading and sharing and live assistance which large healthcare facilities utilize.
Consider your current and future needs along with your business objectives to determine the list of feature you will need. Reliable appointment scheduling solution can be customized to industry requirements so that it suits your business needs.
Like we discussed above, healthcare and medical facilities have unique requirements. The nature of services required by them extends beyond the scope of normal appointment scheduling programs.
Organizations with a huge volume of patients or customers dealing with endless appointments through the day need the backing of a professional solution that always provides guaranteed service. Not all solutions come with such capabilities, and you must be able to choose the professional one.
Have a thorough talk with your vendor to find out the exact offering and limitations of the solution so that you get to understand the nuances.
You can completely automate the burdensome task of scheduling appointments to your online appointment booking solution. It enables customers and patients to book their appointment in seconds and makes everyone in the scheduling process more effective and productive.