Why Patient Self-Scheduling Is Crucial for Your Medical PracticePosted: March 22, 2023 - By Health Dev
Data shows that 80% of patients use their phones to schedule appointments. While other appointments can afford delays, healthcare cannot. Patients must be seen in a timely manner so that their health is not compromised and they have the best possible outcome.
That’s why patient self-scheduling should be an option your medical practice offers. It can eliminate the need for staff to make and manage appointments, freeing up time for patient care. Patient self-scheduling also saves resources by eliminating the need for paper forms, faxes, and phone calls.
Here’s an overview of how patient self-scheduling can help your medical practice. You’ll also learn about the advantages and working mechanisms of patient self-scheduling below.
What Is Patient Self-Scheduling?
Patient self-scheduling means patients can go online and book appointments with healthcare providers. Patients don’t need to call or wait for an appointment. They can simply select an available time slot that fits their schedule.
Patient self-scheduling technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered. It gives patients more control over their care.
Healthcare organizations offering a patient self-scheduling option empowers patients to take a more active role in managing their health. Self-scheduling allows patients to book an appointment at their convenience. So, they don’t have to wait on hold or interact with an operator.
It also helps healthcare providers save time. The staff doesn’t have to spend time on the phone scheduling appointments. Plus, self-scheduling leads to fewer cancellations and no-shows. That’s because the patient is in control of when they book their appointment.
Ultimately, self-scheduling makes it easier for patients to access the care they need when they need it. It also helps reduce wait times and improve the overall patient experience.
How Does Patient Self-Scheduling Work?
Patient self-scheduling software allows patients to book their appointments online. They can do it through a website or mobile app.
Upon logging in (or even if they are not logged in), they can view available slots. Then, they can select one that works for them. Finally, they can fill out the necessary information to confirm their appointment.
The booking is usually quick and easy, allowing for more convenience for the patient. Once patients select their appointment slot and confirm it, they can receive notifications via text or email. It will remind them of the upcoming appointment.
Most systems for patient self-scheduling send automatic reminders to patients before appointment time to minimize no-shows. Patients can also see their earlier appointments. It can be helpful in tracking their medical history.
In addition, some patient self-scheduling systems also have online payment. That allows patients to pay online instead of coming into the clinic with cash or credit. It can help streamline the process and cut down on time.
Here’s what happens:
- The patient goes to your website or app and selects the option for self-scheduling.
- They are directed to the patient self-scheduling online system you’re using. You can develop one yourself or use a SaaS solution.
- The software will show available appointment slots.
- The patient will select an appointment time and date based on their availability.
- If your medical practice has different types of appointments, the patient will choose the one they want. For instance, they may choose a consultation, primary visit, or regular check-up.
- The system will then send them a confirmation email or text with the appointment details and any other relevant information.
- Before the appointment day, the patient will get automatic reminders from the tool.
Depending on the tool, you may be able to cancel appointment requests. For instance, if a patient accidentally books an appointment for the wrong day or time, you can cancel the request before it’s confirmed. You can also send a response to patients through several means, such as email or text.
The Advantages of Allowing Patients To Make Self-Scheduled Appointments
People have been making self-scheduled appointments for everything, from salon visits to spa appointments, for years. It’s understandable why patients want the same from healthcare organizations. Here are some advantages of a self-managed patient appointment scheduling system.
Automated Appointment Scheduling Saves on Costs Long-Term
Let’s take a look at the costs associated with appointment scheduling. First, there’s the cost of staff to answer the phone and coordinate appointments. Next, there’s the cost of lost productivity when patients wait for an appointment and can’t be seen immediately. And lastly, there’s the cost of lost patients when they give up waiting.
These costs add up to a significant amount of money for healthcare organizations. With a patient self-scheduling system, many of these costs can be eliminated. Patients can easily schedule appointments, freeing staff to attend to other tasks.
Plus, there will be fewer no-shows. Since patients can handle their appointment scheduling online, they are more likely to remember when and where their appointment is. Plus, they will schedule an appointment for a time that works for them. That makes it easier for them to keep the appointment.
Reduces Daily Phone Calls and Inquiries for Staff
The average call handling time is six minutes. Suppose your medical practice gets 50 calls per day regarding appointment scheduling. That’s 300 minutes — or five hours — that staff spends on the phone every day.
Plus, patients may also call to check if an appointment is available — only to be disappointed when the time slot isn’t right for them. With self-scheduling, patients can easily check available slots and make their own appointments.
It reduces your staff’s workload and streamlines processes in the office, saving time and money. Plus, it frees staff to attend to tasks requiring more attention.
Appointment Slots Update in Real Time
A patient self-scheduling tool will show appointment slots in real-time. As soon as one person books an appointment, it will no longer be visible to other patients in the online system. So, no two people will be able to book at the same time.
That means that appointments book up quickly. Plus, appointment slots stay up to date at all times — no more double bookings or scheduling conflicts.
It also eliminates the need to update patient appointments in their calendar manually. Manual updates can be time-consuming and prone to errors. Plus, there will be fewer errors of staff assigning the same slot to multiple patients.
With a patient self-scheduling system, everyone can view the most up-to-date appointment information. That makes the scheduling process much more efficient and convenient for patients. Moreover, it can help you reduce no-shows and missed appointments.
Gives Staff Time Back in Their Day for Other Important Tasks
Is your staff spending most of their time managing patient scheduling? With self-scheduling solutions, they no longer have to do that.
Patients can log into a secure website and schedule their own appointments, freeing up staff time for more important tasks. It will not only make them happier and more productive but will also save the practice money in the long run.
Suppose you’re a small practice with only a few employees. If half of your staff is busy dealing with scheduling and appointment requests, that means there’s not enough time for them to do other important things.
But once you allow patients to request service appointments by themselves, your staff can do other tasks. They can answer emails, spend more time with patients, and address any billing issues or other administrative tasks.
A Variety of Appointment Types Can Be Incorporated for Patients To Choose
A patient self-scheduling tool can provide a variety of appointment types for patients to choose from. It can include:
- Regular appointments with their primary care physician
- Specialist visits
- Physical therapy appointments
- Diagnostic tests
- Mental health counseling sessions
Individuals can select the type of appointment that best fits their needs and book it on the self-scheduling tool. The type of appointments you allow patients to make will depend on your practice.
Suppose you’re a dental practice. You can allow patients to book cleanings, fillings, and other dental services. You can also offer scheduling consultations with dentists or hygienists.
The same applies to medical practices. These include primary care visits, specialist visits, physical therapy sessions, laboratory tests, and imaging scans.
The more appointment types you allow patients to book online, the easier it is for them to access care when they need it. It also saves your staff time and energy since they no longer have to manually schedule patients’ appointments.
Tool-based appointment management also helps you manage your patient load more effectively. You can easily view your schedule and make any necessary adjustments if a patient needs to be seen earlier or later in the day.
Saves Time for Patients and Improves Their Overall Experience
Patient experience matters for any healthcare practice. Patients can book their appointments without calling in or waiting for a staff member. It saves them time and makes their overall experience better.
Moreover, self-scheduling tools can help you provide a more personalized and convenient experience for patients. Instead of having to make a phone call, they can book the appointment type and time that work best for them with just a few clicks.
If your staff manages appointment scheduling, the patients may have the following issues:
- Long Wait Times: If you have a busy practice, your staff may be inundated with phone calls and emails from patients trying to book appointments. It can lead to longer wait times before patients can get the appointment they need. As a result, patients may get frustrated or be unsatisfied with your service.
- Double Appointments: When staff members manually schedule the appointments, they may give two patients the same slot. It can lead to confusion and frustration from both sides.
- Phone Call Anxiety: Telephobia is a real thing. Some patients may feel anxious when they have to make a phone call. A self-scheduling tool eliminates this issue. Patients can book their own appointments in the comfort of their own homes.
Overall, a patient self-scheduling tool can help you provide better care for your patients and improve their overall experience. It is an efficient way to manage appointment scheduling while saving time for both the staff and patients.
Easily Embedded or Integrated on Website and Social Media
Patient self-scheduling health systems can embed into existing websites. They can also integrate with popular social media platforms.
It can give your practice an extra channel for reaching and engaging patients. Plus, it provides patients with a convenient way to access your services.
For one, patients will have a way to book healthcare appointments right through your website or social media page. Here are some other benefits of this approach.
- Brand Recognition: When patients book appointments through your website or social media page, it gives you an opportunity to showcase your brand and communicate more effectively with them. For example, you can include pictures of your staff or facility on the booking page to give it a more personal touch.
- Service Advertisement: Are you offering a new service? Do you have a promotion for a particular service? You can include this information on the booking page to attract patients. It’s a great way to advertise services and increase patient visits.
- Patient Engagement: You can also use your website or social media page to interact with patients. Then, you can give them important information about their healthcare journey. For instance, post articles, tips, or other relevant content to engage and inform patients.
Turn to a Complete Growth Solution for Your Practice
Patient self-scheduling portal adoption is crucial for many practices in their growth journey. A self-scheduling portal allows patients to take control of the booking process. Plus, it reduces administrative tasks for office staff. It also saves time, promotes patient convenience, and streamlines the scheduling process. So, it must be a part of your patient scheduling strategy.