Patient scheduling is tricky and involves a lot of moving parts.
You want to see as many patients as possible … but you need wiggle room in your schedule for patient emergencies.
You don’t want to turn patients away … but you need a healthy waiting list to fill gaps in your schedule when they come up.
You don’t want to double-book … but you also want to account for a certain number of no-shows and cancellations.
An art and a science, patient scheduling can make or break the efficiency of your clinic. Keep reading to find out how online booking, particularly self-scheduling, can increase revenue and streamline operations for your practice.
What is patient scheduling software?
Patient scheduling software is a HIPAA-compliant, online self-scheduling solution that allows patients to select their preferred appointment time slots and securely book medical appointments through your website, Google listing, and/or social media profile.
Benefits of using an online booking software
The top benefit of an online booking system is convenience.
According to a study by Accenture, 77% of patients want to book, change, or cancel healthcare appointments online.
If you’ve invested in ads, asked for online reviews, or built a social media following to boost revenue, it’s all for naught if patients don’t have a convenient way to book online.
But even more than convenience for your patients, online self-scheduling also reduces errors, increases revenue, and lightens your staff workload so they can focus on other tasks to help grow your clinic. Here’s where self-scheduling can make the difference.
When you introduce self-scheduling, your office hours instantly “expand” because you’re not relying on staff answering the phone for new appointments.
Online booking can lead to an immediate increase in patient volume because you’ve eliminated phone tag and allowed patients to schedule medical appointments when it’s convenient for them.
Patient scheduling software hands over your appointment calendar to the cloud for a real-time self-scheduling experience.
When a patient needs to cancel their appointment, their time slot opens up for another patient to swoop in online and schedule their appointment for that same time slot within seconds.
This is how online booking increases revenue through increased efficiency – now your staff can enjoy their lunch break without the need to listen to voicemails and reschedule appointments when they get back.
Patients will always need to cancel appointments. But when an appointment is canceled online, it’s more likely to be rescheduled because patients are automatically served with alternative options that are convenient for them.
With patient scheduling software, 50% of last-minute cancellations are filled because of real-time, two-way syncing between calendars.
Improved patient experience
Did you know the average phone call to schedule an appointment is eight minutes?
People under 40 hate phone calls enough as it is, let alone spending eight minutes … during business hours … not on their lunch break … making a phone call to book a medical appointment.
Be the clinic that hands over the reigns to your patients to book an appointment when it’s convenient for them.
For young parents, that may look like booking an appointment early in the morning before their kids wake up.
For patients without kids, that may be booking an appointment after getting home from a night out.
For everyone who works a nine-to-five, that may be finding five minutes between meetings to schedule a medical appointment.
Convenience is the most important core value you can live by – besides providing excellent care – to improve patient experience at your clinic.
Adopting scheduling software for your practice
Pivoting from manual patient scheduling to online self-scheduling is not difficult. You just need to know the building blocks of a good implementation strategy so you’re prepared for when you decided to go ahead.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to adopt patient self-scheduling for your clinic.
General use cases for online patient scheduling
Online booking may be paired with other tools to maximize efficiency for your clinic. Here are some use cases for patient scheduling that extend beyond just booking appointments:
- Triage patients with online booking screening questions to determine whether their needs can be met via telemedicine
- Maintain social distancing at your clinic by limiting in-person appointments or allowing for more time between appointment slots
- Allow more of your staff to continue working remotely due to patient self-scheduling
Patient communication best practices
A patient self-scheduling solution is only as good as your patients’ awareness of it!
When you embrace an online booking solution, you’re going to want to shout it from the rooftops … or from your outbox to your patients’ inboxes.
Here are some best practices for communicating your self-scheduling policy to your existing patients:
- Send all patients an email with a link to your online scheduling calendar
- Remind patients that all information contained within your online booking system remains confidential and their data is protected
- Send patients a short screen recording that shows them how to book an appointment online
- Print signs for your front desk that let patients know they can book online
- Include a link to your online booking calendar in your email signature
For new patients, here’s how you can promote online booking at your clinic:
- Include a “Book Online” button at the top-right corner of your website that directs people to your online booking calendar
- Include a link to your calendar on your Facebook page and Google listing
- Add a calendar link to each practitioner bio page on your website, with the option to direct patients to that practitioner’s calendar
Staff training and efficiency
While patient scheduling eliminates phone tag and manual appointment reminder calls for staff, you’ll still want to make sure they understand how your online booking system works.
When interacting with online booking software, your staff will likely be presented with a centralized dashboard where they can view an appointment calendar, change reminder text, and message patients who have questions about their appointment.
Make sure to choose a solution that offers staff training as part of the onboarding experience, so you can take advantage of efficiencies sooner rather than later.
Online booking through NexHealth gets patients to choose you over your competitors due to convenience and an awesome patient experience.
Here’s where we help you shine and make processes easier for clinics who want to adopt a patient scheduling platform.
Integrations with EHRs and practice management systems
- Booking calendar centralization
- Reduction in errors
- Prevents duplication of work
Through APIs, NexHealth online booking “talks to” your EHR and practice management systems so all your patient information is centralized.
Any online appointment system should be just one piece of an integrated suite that includes telemedicine, appointment reminders, online payments, and two-way messaging.
NexHealth’s features come in a bundle, and that’s how we make sure your clinic is operating with true efficiency. When you automate as many administrative tasks as possible, you’re free to focus on what matters: creating the best experience for your patient.
Automated reminders and patient billing
- Saves up to 10 hours per month
- 50% of cancellations and no-shows are filled
- Works with real-time online booking
- 80% of NexHealth patients make a payment in 10 business days or less
We recommend pairing NexHealth online booking with automated appointment reminders to reduce no-shows and cancellations.
Electronic appointment reminders via email and/or text are so much more likely to be received than a reminder over the phone. You can set reminders to send on the same day of an appointment, and if the patient needs to cancel, they’ll be presented with your real-time patient scheduling system.
So that’s what can happen before the appointment. After the appointment, online payments speed up the payment process by skipping the paper and sending patients their bill via email or text.
In real time, the patient is presented with a payment portal, where they can pay online via debit or credit card.
Improved healthcare marketing
- Embed online booking into patient emails and texts
- Track email metrics within the NexHealth platform
- Email creates $38 in revenue for every dollar you invest
We’ve talked a lot about patient communication before and after appointments, but then there’s the communication that’s going to keep people coming back.
Text and email messages through NexHealth are the best way to show your existing patients you care, whether it’s through a personalized birthday text message or follow up messages about treatment, at-home care, and even preventative health.