Patient Scheduling Software - 5 Reasons Why You Should Use It

February 18, 2021

Table of Contents

Here’s a universal problem. Everyone has to go to the doctor’s office – but, everyone hates booking appointments to go to the doctor’s office.

No matter how healthy you are, you’re probably not super excited to get your medical examinations. The process of booking an appointment alone can be enough to intimidate anyone, let alone people who have health conditions that might need the extra attention in the first place. In fact, two-thirds of all ER visits are from avoidable conditions.

patient scheduling software

 

Here’s a universal problem. Everyone has to go to the doctor’s office – but, everyone hates booking appointments to go to the doctor’s office.

No matter how healthy you are, you’re probably not super excited to get your medical examinations. The process of booking an appointment alone can be enough to intimidate anyone, let alone people who have health conditions that might need the extra attention in the first place. In fact, two-thirds of all ER visits are from avoidable conditions.

From a doctor’s point of view, this is a huge issue. People who are not willing to visit physicians sows the seed for future health problems. If they’re not comfortable bringing up avoidable issues out of discomfort with going to the doctor, then how will they be able to receive treatment for even more serious health troubles down the road?

How can healthcare providers simplify the booking experience and provide an inclusive, safe environment for anyone to find the care they need? Is it possible to create an accessible environment for healthcare to prevent avoidable conditions from worsening?

Patient scheduling software might be the answer. This article will give it to you straight: how doctor appointment software compares to traditional medical appointment scheduling, and what that means for individuals or practices.

History of Traditional Scheduling

Before the 20th century, medical practitioners didn’t have to worry about appointments at their office. House calls were the norm, with doctors travelling to the homes of the patients who could afford care to treat them in the comfort of their own dwellings.

Between 1930 and 1980, house calls plummeted 39.4%. Visiting a patient at home was no longer practical due to rising medical equipment costs and inconvenience. Medical institutions ranging from hospitals to independent practices kept patients on file, quite literally.

Pen and paper became the predominant way to keep track of appointments, medical history, and future bookings.

As technology has grown more advanced, so has patient appointment scheduling. At first, it was the rise of phone scheduling with the advent of the telephone, so patients could book more urgent appointments through a quick phone call to the doctor’s office.

With the rise of computers, telemedicine (remote doctor’s treatment) is also becoming more widespread, especially for remote-friendly practices like therapy. Still, traditional doctor’s office visits are irreplaceable due to the physical examinations you can receive on-site.

Almost every doctor’s office is bookable over the phone, but now many hospitals offer an online patient scheduling system as well. Most of these are website-based online portals, which means they’re still inaccessible through mobile devices and confusing to navigate for patients on the go.

Medical technology has progressed a great way since the 20th century, providing health and peace of mind for your average patient. It’s time that patient appointment scheduling advanced into the future too.

Digital Patient Scheduling Software

Waiting for appointments is stressful. Great doctor appointment scheduling software is how you can remove the stress from your patients’ booking experience.

Digital patient scheduling software is software that:

  • Allows patients to schedule their own appointments online
  • Automatically sends reminders to minimize no-shows
  • Maximizes your team’s productivity
  • Delivers intelligent performance recommendations based on current data
  • Improves patient satisfaction rates

For example, software like Skiplino offers flexible booking. Patients maintain their own appointments, receive notification reminders, and are able to complete touchless booking directly from their phones. There’s no more picking up a phone to call ahead, no more scrambling, and no more headaches when it comes to finding a particular patient’s files.

Let’s say you’re considering the switch from traditional scheduling to doctor appointment booking software.

To the uninitiated, it can seem like a huge hassle. You’re devoting time and energy to change systems, which is always marked by a difficult transition period. How do you justify a new patient scheduling system to your team or stakeholders?

5 Reasons Why You Should Use An Online Patient Scheduling Software

5 reasons to use patient scheduling software

 

Comparing a traditional patient scheduling system and an online clinic appointment management system can help you define the benefits of switching over to a virtual system. Across five different categories, here’s how patient scheduling software compares to pen and paper when it comes to booking appointments.

  • Scheduling Experience
  • Patient Show Rate
  • Pre- and Post-Appointment Care
  • Performance Review
  • Physician Productivity

Comparison 1: Scheduling Experience

Pen and paper patient appointment scheduling constitutes a scheduling experience most are familiar with. You call a phone number, wait on hold for a while, talk to an agent while you scramble to check your calendar for availability, and then book an appointment which you’ll have to jot down somewhere you don’t forget to check.

Is it pleasant? No, not really. Does it work? From a functional point of view, it gets the job done. But at the same time, it’s exactly this approach that prevents patients from feeling at home with visiting the doctor’s office in the first place. The process is simply not convenient or comfortable for most patients, especially younger generations who prefer not to communicate through phone calls.

Fortunately, online appointment scheduling offers a clear way to streamline this process.

Online booking is simple. Your customers can book through social media, websites, apps – with any device they’re most comfortable using. They can view a calendar display of individual provider availability. When booking, they’ll enter their contact information to receive updates and notifications about their upcoming appointment so they’re never in danger of forgetting.

Patient scheduling software means:

  • Convenient one-click online booking
  • Device/platform compatibility
  • Simple calendar display
  • Automated appointment updates

Above all, it’s a centralized experience. There’s no need to worry about recalling the right date or not bringing the right documents when your medical provider can reach out to you directly through a patient scheduling system.

Comparison 2: Patient Show Rate

Your average practice has an 18.8% no-show rate. That means you’re losing time and money on one out of every five appointments.

With pen and paper patient appointment scheduling, patients have no help to hold them accountable for showing up to appointments. You’re basically leaving their appearance up to chance.

Doctor appointment scheduling software lets you automate reminders to send out to clients before appointments. You can customize the text or time of reminder and standardize it to match your clinic’s branding.

Your patients can stay updated through notifications pushed via email or text message on the status of their appointment, whether or not they need to bring papers or other materials, and more. They can cancel and reschedule directly through a simple link or phone number provided in their reminder texts.

 

Pen and Paper Scheduling

Patient Scheduling Software

Text/Email Messages

Must be sent out manually

Automated updates to your appointment

Reminders

Must be sent out manually

Automated. Can be customized to send out through text, email, website, app, etc.

Cancellation/Rescheduling

Requires manual phone call, often impossible with traditional booking

One-click cancellation/rescheduling through the patient’s phone or computer

Branding

Phone greetings

Brand colors, logo, slogans, and anything else to create a cohesive brand experience

 

At its most effective, a clinic appointment management system doesn’t just encourage people to show up. It also ensures that patients can prepare ahead of time and feel safer sharing medical questions or concerns with their practitioner during the appointment.

Comparison 3: Pre- and Post-Appointment Care

pre and post appointment care

 

Traditional medical care is delivered to patients at the doctor’s office. For most people, this means that you head into a hospital or clinic once or twice a year, receive a medical examination, and then don’t think about it again for the rest of the year.

Follow-up is nonexistent. It’s more likely patients will forget about their doctor’s recommendations until the next time to make an appointment rolls around again. Patient appointment scheduling falls into the hands of the patients, which they’ll usually forget or push off. When the doctor’s advice requires patients to take medicine to improve their condition, negligence leads to longer-term health issues.

Thanks to modern technology, it no longer has to be that way.

The best patient scheduling system should serve as more than just a way to book appointments. It’s a patient relationship management platform where practitioners can maintain communication throughout the medical care process and deliver virtual care to the patients who truly need it.

What can pre- and post-appointment care look like?

  1. Reminders to prepare for upcoming appointments. Notifying patients to prepare paperwork or abide by a specific diet before coming in for examinations is easier than ever through a centralized clinic appointment management system.
  2. Request more information. Context is where medical diagnosis thrives. Asking your patients for recent health conditions, long-term healthcare goals, and more can align you on how to proceed with appointments. Patient scheduling software often integrates questionnaire or survey options so physicians can review patient details ahead of time.
  3. Post-appointment surveys. How do you know what you’ve been doing right or wrong during appointments? Ask your patients. Sending out an automated post-appointment survey to patients helps them feel like their feedback matters, and helps you collect actionable advice on how to improve your care.
  4. Health-related follow-ups. Perhaps your patients need an extra push to pick up medication, abide by dietary restrictions, schedule follow-up appointments. Through the messaging function on a doctor appointment software, you’ll be able to keep patients on track for better health conditions.
  5. Public service announcements. Remind your patients to wash their hands during flu season or to stay home during a viral spread. Addressing what’s happening in the world with useful advice strengthens the long-term physician-patient bond.

Even if you’re not a telemedicine practitioner, consider offering patients the option to receive care remotely. 71% of US patients have considered making use of telemedicine to see a doctor. You don’t want to miss out on the possibilities for delivering care that’s truly convenient for every patient, especially those who can’t make it to the doctor’s office.

Your patients live in a world where modern technology keeps everyone connected. Take advantage of that technology to deliver friendly updates and reminders and your patients will think much more fondly of you.

Comparison 4: Performance Review

Imagine you’re trying to run a marathon and want to improve your speed. What’s the first step to getting faster?

Running every day? Strength or endurance training? No. It’s timing your current speed and setting realistic goals according to potential improvement over time.

This is because you can’t perform better without knowing your current level of performance. The same goes for any organization, including medical providers interested in finding out how they can function more efficiently. You need to know how well you’re serving patients right now to know where you need to improve.

Tracking productivity with a pen and paper patient scheduling system is highly time-consuming. You need to:

  • Capture patient appointment scheduling information manually
  • Log each piece of tracked data into one document/file
  • Analyze collected data for trends and insights

Without having expert data analysts for staff, you might not even end up with usable information for your practice. Even if you did hire people to help you analyze business data, it will still take hours to compile and review. At that point, your data might already be irrelevant.

That’s where strong patient scheduling software comes in. An intelligent queue management system monitors customer feedback in real-time.

Your front desk personnel don’t need to spend additional time scheduling or logging data. All they need to do is continue their customer-facing work, aided by a fully integrated clinic appointment management system.

The right solution can help you track all the information you need to know and deliver analytics-based reports to you with zero effort required on your side.

Need inspiration on what kind of data you should be collecting to improve your productivity? See below for a chart on what types of information you can collect to learn more and the best way to collect them with each type of scheduling.

 

Pen and Paper Scheduling

Patient Scheduling Software

Customer Satisfaction Rate

Relies on pen and paper surveys

Quick survey via text or email

Wait Time

Employee calculating duration

The appointment scheduler logs wait time with a tap

On-Site Traffic

Manual headcounts

Automatically tracked in-system

Patient Demographics

Pen and paper pre-appointment surveys

Automatically tracked in-system

Staff Performance

Supervisor or employee surveys

Calculated in-system based on contextual factors

 

Reviewing patient-facing employee productivity isn’t just easier with doctor appointment software. It delivers analysis that’s heavy on actionable insight, light on administrative busywork for your employees.

Comparison 5: Physician Productivity

physical productivity

 

Six out of ten physicians agree that the average doctor’s visit is too short for effective treatments. Every minute of a doctor’s day is valuable time. Spending that time going back and forth between patients and files is only going to occupy more of their day they could be spending on delivering better care to individual patients.

Streamlining patient appointment scheduling is a time-saver for doctors. Here’s why:

  • Higher patient satisfaction. Improved scheduling experiences are going to prevent patients from getting frustrated, resulting in better physician-patient experiences.
  • Less time waiting, more time treating. At your average practice, patients spend too much time waiting compared to how much they actually spend with the doctor. Cutting down on their waiting time increases the time they can spend in treatment.
  • Reduced administrative work. No more tricky paperwork and messy files mean less time spent communicating between doctors and front desk assistants. Less time on admin means more patient face time.
  • Easier communication. Improved pre- and post-appointment care through patient scheduling software cut out unnecessary appointments, saving time for the patients who truly need help in-person.

Doctors need their time back. Effective patient appointment scheduling will help them do just that, without sacrificing the quality or duration of their care.

What to Look For in Patient Scheduling Software

Let’s say you’re finally done with pen and paper scheduling. You’re browsing through options for doctor appointment booking software, but you hardly know where to start. How can you narrow down the field and find the right choice for your practice?

Consider picking a patient appointment scheduling solution with the following features.

  • Clean, simple design
  • Automation for administrative tasks
  • Communication portal for doctors, patients, assistants, and lab employees
  • Text/email/social media integration
  • Intelligent performance analytics tracking
  • Customization

There is no absolute best tool for your purposes. Find something that’s simple but effective that works for everyone. Your patients and employees will thank you, and your business will be better than ever before.

Conclusion

In short, doctor appointment scheduling software is a saving grace for medical providers, no matter their size. Compared to pen and paper booking, software solutions with smart capabilities are far more efficient.

They promise a better scheduling experience, improve patient appearance rates, streamline pre- and post-appointment care, help practices review their own performance more quickly and accurately, and ensure doctors can see more patients without sacrificing a positive patient experience along the way.

Picking the right patient scheduling software doesn’t have to be challenging. In fact, Skiplino is a fantastic option for anyone considering a booking management system with an intuitive, hands-on design. You can start your 7-day free trial here today.

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