It’s an all-too-common patient frustration. They’ve done their research, compared options, and finally selected a new healthcare provider. But when they go to book the appointment, prospective patients are forced to change channels. First, they have to find your phone number. Then, they need to call during office hours, wait on hold to speak with reception, and endure a back-and-forth to find a time that works for both parties. Thankfully, the new tools of the digital age — like online scheduling and online appointment requests — streamline the patient experience. (Whew!)
According to a Doctor.com survey, 80% of patients use the internet to make decisions about their healthcare. They research providers online, hunt for practice information, and read reviews left by other patients. Switching channels to make an appointment introduces an unnecessary hitch in the process and increases your risk of patient leakage.
Online scheduling or online appointment requests are no longer nice-to-have options for doctors. Below are four ways embracing these technologies will benefit your practice.
Expand your office hours 24/7 with online scheduling
Traditionally, medical receptionists keep the standard 9-to-5 business hours. Unfortunately, that means they’re closing when most folks leave work. Online scheduling circumvents this issue. It lets patients contact your office on their time, expanding your office hours to fit their schedule. Today, one out of every three appointment requests is made after hours, which means your office needs to be open around the clock.
In 2018, 45% of patients preferred to use digital methods to make appointments. And this statistic continues to grow. Accenture predicts that 64% of patients will book their appointments digitally by the end of 2019. Doctors can’t afford to be late to the party either — or they’ll lose prospective patients to other practices that use online scheduling to make appointments easier to book.
Enable appointment requests everywhere patients find you
Being able to book or request appointments around the clock is one thing. But doctors can make the experience even easier by enabling Universal Scheduling. This powerful feature from Doctor.com lets patients request appointments from the 40+ major consumer sites and social media platforms that patients use to look up reputable healthcare providers online — a robust list that includes Google, Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, Vitals, and your own website, among others.
Just like Amazon’s one-click ordering set new consumer expectations for e-commerce, requesting appointments with physicians today should be a convenient and seamless undertaking. Being able to start that process anywhere someone encounters your practice gives them the patient-friendly experience they want.
Lighten the load for your office staff
It’s not just patients who benefit from online scheduling and appointment requests as well as a myriad of other digital tools. It also makes things easier for your office staff — the invaluable members of your team who field patient phone calls and put appointments in the books.
Outside of online scheduling and calendar synching, enabling online appointment requests takes care of a major part of the initial intake, so your receptionist doesn’t have to do it over the phone. Instead, they already know the nature of the appointment and preferred time frame. Plus, throwing automated appointment reminders into the mix frees up additional time for staff to address more pressing matters around the office.
Reach your millennial audience — and everyone else
Yes, millennials have the well-earned reputation as being more connected and digitally savvy than ever. To attract this elusive generation, it’s important to meet them where they are, using their preferred communication channels.
But millennials aren’t standing in this digital landscape alone. The 60+ demographic is increasingly going digital too. In fact, according to Doctor.com proprietary research, the older generations’ preferences for digital are on par with their younger counterparts: One in three of the over-60 population prefers to make an appointment online via a website, app, or email.
The digital age has introduced new opportunities to engage patients wherever they come across your practice. Don’t miss out on new patients because your office was closed or you missed a phone call. Learn more about Doctor.com’s Universal Scheduling solution here. To see our platform in action, schedule a personal demo with one of Doctor.com’s practice consultants.