The medical industry has it tough.
Constantly stressed, often overworked, and being counted on to consistently provide a flawless service to the public are just a few of the culprits here.
Add to that the constant need to manage appointments and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
Think about the last time you went to your family doctor or to a clinic. How were the appointments managed? Did the receptionist have a classic pen-and-paper scheduling system? Was there a crowded waiting room full of impatient people in line to be seen by a doctor?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, chances are the doctor’s office or clinic you went to should look into a better way to manage appointments.
That “better way” is a doctor appointment app.
As technology keeps progressing, it’s no secret that a sizable chunk of the medical industry is making the switch from traditional scheduling methods to digital. And since up to 77% of patients believe that the ability to schedule, reschedule, and cancel their appointments online is of the utmost importance, it’s easy to understand why.
But for those out there who don’t really know the fundamentals regarding doctor appointment apps, making the switch from the known to the unknown can be a daunting task. How do you know which one to choose? What are the benefits? What makes the old system so ineffective?
Relax. With this guide, you’ll be able to gather all the knowledge you need in order to help you switch to digital.
Problems With Traditional Medical Scheduling
Once you really stop and think about the way traditional doctor’s appointments are scheduled, it’s easy to see all of the glaring issues that can arise.
Hopefully, after reviewing some of the problems with your current scheduling method, adopting a doctor appointment app will be at the top of your priorities list.
With traditional scheduling, unless you have an employee physically making phone calls to every patient with an upcoming appointment, there’s no way to issue reminders to your patients. And if you are choosing to go this route, these phone calls are time-consuming and wildly inefficient—a point that we’ll get to very soon.
When patients aren’t reminded of appointments, these appointments often end up being missed. In fact, recent studies have concluded that up to 23% of patients will completely miss their appointment without some sort of reminder.
The effects of no-shows are felt very quickly. When a patient doesn’t show up for their appointment, it’s nearly impossible to fill that slot on such short notice. This leads to reduced productivity in the clinic.
Since double-bookings are often used as a remedy for this problem, the no-show epidemic can severely damage patient relationships as well. If clinics are double-booking in order to combat a high no-show rate, patients will spend far more time waiting beyond their scheduled appointment times.
As we mentioned above, when you’re forced to schedule appointments the old fashioned way, that means you’ll have to delegate someone to the phone or for walk-in bookings at all times.
This is an inefficient use of time. Think about all the little tasks that have been piling up around the office that no one has time to do. How many of these tasks could be completed if you didn’t have to answer phones and book appointments for most of the day?
Having to delegate staff resources to appointment scheduling will absolutely make a dent in overall productivity. If you’ve always been scheduling appointments this way, it’s likely something you’ll never notice either.
However, once you change from traditional scheduling to a doctor appointment app, the increased productivity will be felt straight away.
Doctor’s offices and clinics have set hours of operation that they follow. With traditional scheduling methods, this is the only time that patients can book appointments.
Most people lead busy lives. As time goes on, the public expects to be able to book appointments at their leisure. Whether it’s from their work laptop or from their mobile phone, you can’t argue with the convenience of being able to book a doctor’s appointment at any time or place.
Since no one is perfect, employing traditional scheduling methods can often lead to detrimental errors.
Whether it’s the wrong time being recorded or even patient information being recorded incorrectly, these mistakes can prove costly for any medical practice.
For many clinics, it’s possible that these errors have never occurred. Even if that’s the truth, the possibility is always there. When times get busy, stress levels rise, and numerous phone calls come in all at once, the chances of making a mistake while recording patient information rise exponentially.
If only there was a way to eliminate the need for human input almost entirely…
The Benefits of a Doctor Appointment App
Now that you’re well aware of just how inefficient your traditional scheduling methods are, let’s dive into some of the benefits associated with doctor appointment apps.
While the benefits are numerous and couldn’t fit into a blog post on their own, it’s important to go over some of the key upsides to going digital. These should help you paint a clear picture of what you’ll be getting yourself into moving forward.
Adopting a doctor appointment app improves accessibility by leaps and bounds. This is largely due to the fact that patients are now able to book appointments at any time they want. They’re no longer bound to the clinic or office hours of operation. And with the busy lives that patients lead, this is a huge convenience for them.
Not only is it convenient to be able to book at any time, but it’s also beneficial to be able to book an appointment from any place as well.
Of course, you could always just place a phone call, but phone calls can be incredibly tedious. Not to mention a significant percentage of people can’t stand being on the phone in the first place, especially younger folks.
When someone is at work and remembers that they need to book an appointment, all they need to do is hop onto your doctor appointment app and boom. Simple as that.
Mobile booking is great as well since so many people these days are not only glued to their phones but also booking tons of appointments from their device too.
Traditional Appointment Scheduling
Doctor Appointment App
Limited to business hours for appointment booking
Patients are able to book appointments at any time
Stuck having to make an in-person appointment or make a phone call
Can book from their mobile phone without having to speak to a receptionist over the phone
Improved Patient Service
When it comes down to it, nothing is more important than the service you provide.
Within the medical industry, this aspect can often be overlooked. Of course, it’s important to be a well-educated expert in your field, but a patient’s overall experience can seriously be hindered by the way they’re served up until the point where they walk into the examination room itself.
By implementing a doctor appointment app, you help avoid several different red flags, including:
- Tying up patients on the phone - There isn’t much that people hate more than being placed on hold over and over again. If patients can book online, you remove this practice altogether
- Staff having to put all their focus into scheduling appointments - How often do staff get to engage in friendly conversation with patients if they’re forced to take phone calls all day? A smile or a bit of positive small talk can go a long way towards creating a positive experience
- Increased wait times - With traditional scheduling methods being as inefficient as they are, not only are you likely increasing the amount of time that customers will have to wait, but you’re wasting their valuable time as well
Many people despise going to the doctor. It can easily raise stress and anxiety levels through the roof. Knowing this, if you’re able to make the experience go even the slightest bit smoother, why wouldn’t you?
We’ve already talked a little bit about appointment reminders for patients, but it goes without saying that the importance of reminders for patients should never be understated.
With traditional scheduling, reminders are impossible without placing phone calls to each and every patient with an upcoming appointment. We’ve already established just how inefficient this method can be.
Thankfully, with a doctor’s appointment app, this process is completely automated.
No-shows have been plaguing the medical industry for far too long at this point. Using a doctor appointment app, you can set up SMS and email notifications to help make sure that your no-show rates stay at an all-time low.
Friendly reminders to your patients are also part of improving your overall service as well. Patients will often feel a little more cared about when they receive that text reminding them of their appointment.
Appointment reminders are a key feature that you’ll want when you switch to a doctor’s appointment app. Thankfully, most scheduling software have them front and center as part of their platform.
Traditional Appointment Scheduling
Doctor Appointment App
Must remind patients manually by phone or other methods
Automated reminders eliminate a task from your to-do list and help reduce no-show rates
Increased Staff Efficiency
Incorporating a doctor appointment app goes a long way to improving staff productivity and efficiency around the office. Since you won’t have to delegate staff hours towards appointment booking, these employees are then free to perform other tasks.
This is a lot more important than most people realize. Throughout the medical industry, there’s no shortage of work or tasks to take care of. Eliminating one of the biggest tasks around the office makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Another staff-related benefit is stress reduction. Handling the booking of appointments can be incredibly stressful, considering all the information you’ll need to get from the patient and making sure that all of it has been recorded correctly. Since a doctor’s appointment app can handle all of this for you, you can rest assured that stress levels remain much lower. And with stress levels lower, productivity and efficiency rise.
Traditional Appointment Scheduling
Doctor Appointment App
Requires a staff member to constantly input information
No need to delegate staff hours to appointments
Recording appointments during busier hours can lead to high levels of stress
Stress from recording appointments is eliminated thanks to automation
Analytics and Reporting
This benefit exists almost entirely outside the realm of scheduling itself.
With many different doctor appointment apps, you’ll get some analytics and automated reporting features. With these features, you can track different aspects of your practice, including, but not limited to:
- Staff performance
- Patient demographics
- Patient appointment history
- Patient feedback
At this point, information such as patient appointment history is likely already being manually tracked. However, this can be incredibly time-consuming When you switch to a doctor’s appointment app, this information is recorded automatically. You don’t need to worry about recording the incorrect information or even accidentally losing files if you decide to go with a cloud-based app.
Choosing the Right Doctor Appointment App For You
After reading about all of the benefits associated with doctor appointment apps, chances are you’re ready to dive right in and get some software set up.
Not so fast.
While enthusiasm is great, it’s important that you know what to look for when choosing your doctor appointment app.
Thankfully, we’ve got a few considerations for you to keep in mind as you scour the internet in search of the perfect solution for your practice.
We’ve already talked about many of the features that come with any basic doctor appointment app. However, it’s important to have a look at the features specific to different software.
Calendar functionality is a big one. When assessing the scheduling needs of your office or clinic, make sure that the calendar is capable of handling all the specific tasks that you need it to.
Another question to ask yourself is whether you’re looking for a simple scheduling app or if you’re looking for a full queue management software.
With queue management software, you can largely eliminate the need to have people waiting around in a waiting room. Patients simply “check-in” to your queue and are free to do whatever they want up until their appointment time.
Some apps, such as Skiplino’s Queue Management System, offer both a queue manager and an appointment scheduler as well. This can be convenient if you aren’t looking to pick up two different types of software.
Ease of Use
Since adopting a completely new type of software can be daunting sometimes, it’s important to select a platform with a focus on ease of use. Doing so will ensure a seamless transition from your old scheduling methods to your doctor appointment app.
On the front end, patients will want as little resistance as possible when scheduling their appointments. Going with software that has no more than a few steps before booking would be ideal here.
The back end is just as important. You don’t want your staff wrestling with a program all day, trying to figure out which appointments they have for the day. An intuitive interface and dashboard will help your staff come around to using a new system to track daily appointments.
Even with the easiest to use doctor appointment app, technology and software can be unpredictable. It’s possible that you can run into different issues, whether it’s during implementation or later on down the road.
An effective technical support program is an absolute must when choosing the right app for you.
Some companies offer a 24/7 support chat that will answer your concerns and have you back on track as soon as possible. Others like to create a help center of sorts, with all kinds of FAQ questions and articles containing information on how to navigate potential pitfalls.
Either one of these solutions is fine. Just make sure that you look into tech support before going all-in on a doctor appointment app.
“Is a doctor appointment app completely automated?”
This is a bit of a loaded question. There will be some human input required to set up your app of choice and get your scheduling system in place. However, from there, most of the functionality will be automated.
With reporting and analytics, while the data collection is largely automated, it’s on you to use that data accordingly.
“How difficult is it to set up a doctor appointment app?”
Depends on which app you choose to go with and how much they value ease of use.
For example, Skiplino Appointments can be set up in as quickly as 5 minutes. We value your time and we understand how busy you are. It’s for this reason that we focus on keeping the setup as simple as it can be.
“Is a doctor appointment app worth my money?”
Many of the benefits associated with doctor appointment apps involve increasing staff efficiency and saving time. Once you get a taste of these benefits, you’ll understand the incredible ROI from implementing a doctor appointment app. It is worth noting that an appointment scheduling app won't break the bank. For example, Skiplino offers it for as low as $79 a month.
Doctor Appointment App Summary
Hopefully, now that you’re armed with this wealth of information, deciding to make the switch to a doctor appointment app should be easier than ever. You’ll know what to look for, what the benefits are, and even all the problems associated with traditional scheduling methods.
The most important thing to note here is that professionals in the medical industry have enough on their plate as it is.
When you implement a doctor appointment app, you’re making the first step towards lightening the load and removing a huge amount of stress from your staff. The increase in efficiency and great patient service is second to none.
Need More Info on Doctor Appointment Apps?
This guide should be more than enough to get you started on implementing a doctor appointment app.
However, if you still need some more information, don’t worry. Drop us a line. Whether you’re looking for more information on doctor appointment apps or even some additional information on why Skiplino Appointments is the perfect solution for you, we’re here to help.