Apart from business organizations trying to keep up with schedules and appointments through online scheduling systems, healthcare industry too is waking up to the benefits of online scheduling. A plethora of software exist in the market for online scheduling and are advantageous in customer self-scheduling, accessibility, reducing the number of skipped appointments, marketing, customization, staff scheduling and customer support.
People are getting busier by the day and most times end up missing out on their physicians’ appointments. Herein, healthcare organizations need to keep up with their lifestyle through patient portals and offer services that attract existing and new patients. Streamlining of processes such as online scheduling manages the appointments along with sending reminders (automated) via SMS alerts/email/mobile phones. Portals that offer online appointments can be used at any time of the day by patients along with a wide choice of preferences of timing, physician etc. Staff time also reduces drastically which is otherwise spent on phone and managing appointments every day. The staff is able to then concentrate on other pressurizing tasks. Healthcare organizations lose out on revenues if patients miss appointments. But with an appointment reminder system, which not only reminds the patient of their scheduled appointment, but also informs if certain tests are to be taken before meeting the physician or if the test is going to be conducted when the visit is scheduled (especially in case the patients need to go in a fasting mode).
Also, patients can schedule for minor treatments, vaccine clinics for shots etc. round the clock. As it’s a web-based portal, they possess a 24 hr. convenience which can be accessed through any Smartphone, laptop or computer. In a survey (smallbiztrends.com) conducted in 2015, 17% of patients scheduled a doctor’s appointment online while another 42% would have preferred to do the same but couldn’t do so for some reason. It is projected that by 2019, 64% will book their appointments online. 66% of healthcare providers will be offering this facility amounting to around $3.2 billion, thereby gaining an aggressive edge. It has also been noticed that 34% of appointments are done after offices close, which aids in reducing stress on the healthcare administration. This also paves the way for new patients that are expected to be around 63%. Again, the reminder system reduces the number of no-shows which is currently averaged to be 14%.
The demand is increasing. More than 50% patients currently use an online app rather than call the hospital to book an appointment. Convenience ranks high with patients when it comes to online scheduling in their otherwise busy calendar. Especially with new patients, preference is high for looking online for physicians than calling hospitals. It is also beneficial for doctors who tend to otherwise miss out on not only new patients, but also the existing ones in case they skip appointments. It will soon be time to embrace this technology. The sooner done the better it is, with benefits for the patient, staff and the healthcare facility in general.