Online Scheduling for Patient Appointments

The Impact of Utilizing Online Scheduling for Patient Appointments

Meg DeLeon, Account Director Digital Media

If news reports are correct, online appointment-scheduling for patients is taking off at the speed of light. Consumers have become accustomed to doing almost everything online, from researching their medical symptoms to finding a healthcare provider. It makes sense that they expect to be able to schedule an appointment online, and research shows 42 percent of patients would rather do so than use a telephone to call a practice.

Benefits of Online Scheduling Systems

These systems typically offer much more than just scheduling options, which includes honing an institution’s competitive edge, attracting new patients, improving the patient experience and addressing younger demographics. The number of staff required to process telephone or written requests for appointments is frustrating, and organizations suffer from under-utilization of their appointment time or increased staffing costs to optimize it. With online scheduling, the system works 24/7 to fill empty appointment slots, reducing administrative work and the opportunity for human error.

Impact of Utilization

With all those benefits, what’s the impact for healthcare organizations? A recent case study from University of Alabama Medicine claimed patient appointments jumped by 131 percent since implementing online scheduling in 2016. This is a big win for an institution where 30 to 40 percent of caregiver slots went unfilled while patients waited weeks and months to get appointments.

It’s not just about scheduling. A large Wisconsin-based group practice with 40 health centers recently noted scheduling technology has helped to reduce its no-show rate to 4 percent. That’s extremely low compared with the average U.S. patient no-show rate of 18 percent. In addition, 38 percent of online appointments are booked after hours, delivering a clear message that patients need the flexibility to perform these tasks outside of their work time.

Future Outlook

Research by Accenture shows by the end of 2019, two-thirds of U.S. health systems will offer digital appointment scheduling. The number of appointments to be made is estimated at 986 million. This is a $3.2 billion value for the healthcare providers, at least part of which could be lost without online scheduling.

Using online scheduling is keeping waiting rooms full, reducing appointments missed because of cancellation difficulties, and—last but by no means least—providing a wealth of information that can be integrated directly into your database from the portal. This data helps to reduce healthcare costs and personalize your marketing.

For more information about implementing online scheduling for patient appointments for your healthcare organization, please call Wax Custom Communications at 305-350-5700.

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