How Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Will Make Happier Patients

How Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Will Make Happier Patients

6 Feb 2023

Picture this.

You’ve been stuck in a waiting room for well over an hour. Packs of frustrated patients flank you on every side, desperately waiting for their name to be called. You’re also fully aware that you’ll likely only see the doctor for less than half the time you’ve been waiting.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Truth is, this is the reality for most patients. The sad reality is that traditional doctor appointment scheduling just doesn’t cut it anymore. When you really take the time to dive deep into what traditional scheduling is all about, you quickly realize all of the glaring issues associated with it. This level of inefficiency calls for a new scheduling method to be implemented.

It’s not like the medical industry is the only one coming to terms with the fact that traditional scheduling can’t cut it, either. Everyone from the DMV to your local hair salon has begun to implement better scheduling systems to better accommodate their patrons.

Sure, doctors likely have a ton on their plates as it is. We get it. Dealing with appointment scheduling is often the last thing they’ll want to be worrying about.

Thankfully, we’re here with a simple solution to this dreadful scenario.

The answer? Online doctor appointment scheduling.

Now, before we get into the benefits of online doctor appointment scheduling and even a few different providers, let’s talk a little about traditional appointment scheduling methods and how online doctor appointment scheduling can help.

History of Traditional Patient Appointment Scheduling

traditional-patient-appointment-scheduling

It might be hard to believe, but the fact is that our current system of receiving healthcare at designated facilities has only become popular in more recent times. Before our current system really took hold, doctors were frequently performing house visits.

So what changed?

Well, with rapid advancement in medical technology and the creation of larger equipment, house calls became no longer feasible or efficient. While this technology has become vital to our healthcare system, it has also helped to create the traditional appointment scheduling system that we loathe today.

Nowadays, the most popular method of scheduling appointments is for patients to call ahead of time, hope to speak to a receptionist who will list available times for an appointment (usually months down the road), and book their appointment. When the time comes, they’re meant to sit in a waiting room for an indefinite amount of time and wait for their name to be called. Most of the time, their name ends up being called long after the scheduled time, since appointments can sometimes run long.

Obviously, the creation of new medical technology has been worth it in the long run. But it’s also created a need to solve the efficiency problems associated with traditional healthcare facility scheduling.

What is Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling?

When you scour the Google wasteland in search of a doctor appointment scheduling app, there’s a good chance that you’ll not only come across hundreds of different options, but these different options will come loaded with different features, including:

  • Video chat
  • Interactive calendars for scheduling
  • Analytics features
  • Automated reporting
  • Live tech support
  • Online payment processing

Now, we’ll likely cover some of these more in-depth when we discuss the benefits of online doctor appointment scheduling. But when we’re discussing aspects that define this software, there’s one that rises above the rest.

Online doctor appointment scheduling allows patients to book their own appointments with little to no input from staff. 

It’s that simple. For online doctor appointment scheduling to be what it is, this core concept needs to be upheld. Otherwise, you’re just looking at another traditional scheduling method.

From there, the question becomes: why allow patients to book their own appointments?

Good question…

The Importance of Allowing Patients to Book Their Own Appointments

the-importance-of-allowing-patients-to-book-their-own-appointments

There are two different sides to allowing patients to book their own appointments:

  1. Benefits to patients
  2. Benefits to staff

When patients are able to book appointments at their leisure, the main benefit is that they’re able to do so on their own time. Instead of being limited to certain hours in order to book an appointment, they can simply hop onto an app or a browser page and book their appointment. No annoying phone calls needed.

On the flip side, staff also benefit from this process as well. If patients book their appointments online by themselves, you no longer need to delegate a staff member to the phones for hours on end. Essentially, you’re eliminating an entire task. Neat, huh?

It sounds like such a trivial process. However, once we dive further into the benefits of online doctor appointment scheduling, we’re convinced that you’ll fully understand how important it is to allow patients to book their own appointments.

Switching From Traditional Scheduling to Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling

So out with it. Why should doctors switch from methods that seem to work just fine to a brand new scheduling system? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?

That’s the problem. It is broken. Maybe traditional appointment scheduling has worked okay up to this point, but why settle for just okay?

Here are 5 reasons you should be making the switch from traditional scheduling to online appointment scheduling:

1. 24/7 Booking

24-7-patient-booking

The ability to book appointments at any time is a benefit for all kinds of different industries, and the medical industry is certainly no exception.

The reality is that many doctor’s offices operate on the typical 9-5 type schedule. While that may be optimal for some patients, others with odd work schedules aren’t so lucky. They’re stuck attempting to phone in and book an appointment during a time that likely isn’t convenient for them.

Luckily, online doctor appointment scheduling eliminates this problem entirely. With an online scheduling system, patients are in control of the booking process. If you remember that you need to book an appointment at 3 am, you’re free to do so. Zero restrictions. Simply hop on the app or open your browser to the online booking page and book your appointment.

Accessibility is huge when it comes to doctor appointment scheduling. When patients are able to book appointments at their leisure, there’s far less headache added to an already stressful situation.

Traditional Appointment SchedulingOnline Doctor Appointment Scheduling
Forces patients to book appointments at times that may not be convenient for them, depending on their schedule24/7 booking provides the most accessible method for patients, including those with irregular or inconsistent work schedules

2. Patient Reminders

23% of patients are likely to completely miss an appointment without a reminder. Given just how costly missed appointments can be to the medical industry, this statistic quickly becomes troubling.

Here’s the thing though: With traditional scheduling methods, reminders need to be sent manually. The most common way to do this is with a simple phone call. However, this is an incredibly invasive and inefficient way of sending an appointment reminder. It’s no secret that phone calls are becoming more and more hated as time goes on, especially by the millennial generation. So why would healthcare professionals want to subject patients to this type of reminder?

This is where online doctor appointment scheduling comes in. Most, if not all software designed for appointment scheduling comes with some sort of reminder feature. As a patient, you’ll be able to choose from two common reminder methods after booking your appointment:

  1. An email reminder
  2. An SMS reminder
doctor appointment scheduling, How Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Will Make Happier Patients, Skiplino

Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll be far less likely to miss an appointment after receiving an automated reminder.

Traditional Appointment SchedulingOnline Doctor Appointment Scheduling
Lack of reminders leads to missed appointmentsReminders ensure that patients are aware of upcoming appointments
Reminders need to be manually sent by phone call, which is inefficient and invasiveAutomation ensures that reminders are always sent and allow patients to choose either SMS or email reminders

3. Simple Cancellations and Rescheduling 

The same logic from booking the initial appointment applies to cancellations and rescheduling.

Unfortunately, some appointments need to be canceled or rescheduled. That’s simply the reality of the medical industry. Unforeseen circumstances will rear their ugly heads and an appointment will need to be missed.

The main problem here is how these appointments are canceled or rescheduled. With traditional doctor appointment scheduling, patients are forced to cancel and reschedule the same way they booked the appointment in the first place: By placing the dreaded phone call, likely waiting on hold for an indefinite amount of time before even being able to speak to anyone.

Just like the initial booking process, this method isn’t exactly efficient or enjoyable for patients.

Good news, though. With online doctor appointment scheduling, the canceling and rescheduling process is just as easy as the initial booking process. How to proceed with this process varies depending on the software being used, but the fact remains that a simple canceling and rescheduling process is a staple feature of most, if not all doctor appointment scheduling apps.

This, alongside the initial booking process, all boils down to one simple concept: An effective scheduling method should be as simple and efficient for patients as possible. If the method doesn’t nail these two aspects, then a change needs to be made.

Traditional Appointment SchedulingOnline Doctor Appointment Scheduling
Rescheduling and cancelling appointments are both equally as inefficient and frustrating as the initial booking processApps and online booking forms allow for seamless and simple appointment rescheduling and cancelling

4. Better Patient-Doctor Communication

better-patient-doctor-communication

If there’s one theme that’s become prevalent throughout this post, it’s that the phone is a less-than-ideal tool to use for scheduling appointments. Whether it’s the fact that it limits patients to certain booking hours or simply being an invasive way to remind patients of appointments, it’s no secret that the phone is an outdated scheduling method.

Another area that gets affected by phone usage in appointment scheduling is communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

“Well, wouldn’t it be easier to communicate vital information over the phone with words instead of filling out online forms?”, you’re likely asking.

While this is a somewhat valid point, the problem isn’t the actual communication itself. Rather, it’s what happens with the information after the initial booking. For the most part, this information needs to be interpreted by a secretary, who then fills out their own form either on a computer or by hand.

This process presents two detrimental possibilities:

  1. The information could easily be lost or misplaced
  2. The information could be recorded incorrectly by staff

In either case, lost patient information can lead to medical professionals who are unprepared for patient treatment or diagnosis. When this happens, the entire waiting room suffers. Scrambling to locate patient information or trying to record it again on the fly is a recipe for disaster.

So, what’s the alternative?

Thankfully, online doctor appointment scheduling allows medical professionals to create forms for patients to fill out and can include many bits of vital information for appointments, including:

  • Basic contact information
  • Appointment details
  • Specific allergies
  • Medical history

Because of this, not only is the line of communication between patients and medical professionals drastically improved, but efficiency in the office is increased as well.

Traditional Appointment SchedulingOnline Doctor Appointment Scheduling
Patient information can easily be lost in the shuffle, leading to delaysPatient information is safe and secure
Miscommunication or misinterpretation is far more prevalentThe creation of online forms allows healthcare professionals to gather exactly the right information in order to proceed effectively

5. Digital is the Future

digital-is-the-future

Let’s face it. Whether we like it or not, many processes that we’ve become used to over the years have begun the transition to a digital medium, and scheduling is no different.

In fact, when we dig a little deeper, 42% of patients say they would like to be able to book doctor appointments online, instead of the traditional phone call method. That’s right. Nearly half. If that isn’t enough to convince you just how outdated traditional scheduling methods are, we’re not sure what is.

It’s not like other healthcare practices aren’t catching on, either. Over half of the health systems in the US will be offering online scheduling according to this survey from Accenture. Healthcare practices that don’t keep up will almost certainly be left behind in the dust.

Think about mobile compatibility as well. With mobile usage being as high as it is, it only makes sense for healthcare facilities to offer an online booking method to accommodate these mobile users.

Traditional Appointment Scheduling Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling
Fails to accommodate the digital interests of today’s societyDigital scheduling is quickly becoming not only the new norm but the expectation as well

Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Apps

We wouldn’t just list off all the benefits of online doctor appointment scheduling without listing off some of our favorite software out there. As we’ve mentioned previously, there are tons to choose from. However, we’ve chosen to stick with a couple of solid options to help get you started.

Skiplino Appointments

Yeah, we know. A bit of a plug.

Thing is, we wouldn’t list our own service if we didn’t truly believe it to be the perfect option for online doctor appointment scheduling.

With Skiplino Appointments, staff can expect several beneficial features, including:

  • An intuitive and easy to use calendar for scheduling
  • Automated reminders
  • Set-up for walk-in patients
  • Analytics features
  • Automated reporting

Skiplino Appointments can also be set up in under 5 minutes. Crucial for healthcare professionals who have enough to worry about as it is.

doctor appointment scheduling, How Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Will Make Happier Patients, Skiplino

On top of all that, patients can simply download the Skiplino app for their phones and book appointments straight from their mobile devices. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

All of this being said, it should be easy to see why Skiplino Appointments is one of the best options on the market for online doctor appointment scheduling.

Appointment Plus

A frontrunner in terms of features, AppointmentPlus seems to offer over 500 customizable preferences.

doctor appointment scheduling, How Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Will Make Happier Patients, Skiplino

The question is, what features would you be getting with AppointmentPlus?

  • 24/7 booking from anywhere
  • Robust reporting features
  • Notifications
  • Several integrations, including popular apps like Facebook
  • Schedule templates

The only thing to take note of here is that AppointmentPlus offers several different tiers of service. This means that certain features may be locked behind a paywall, depending on the tier chosen.

Online Doctor Appointment Scheduling Summary

After making it this far, it should be apparent that traditional scheduling methods aren’t going to cut it in healthcare anymore. There are simply too many benefits that healthcare professionals will end up missing out on.

And it’s not only the staff who benefit either, considering the sizable amount of patients who strongly desire the ability to book appointments online. When you also consider the newfound popularity of telemedicine software, there’s no reason for traditional healthcare facilities to live in the dark ages of scheduling any longer.

We’re pretty sure that we speak for most patients out there when we urge healthcare providers to make the switch to online doctor appointment scheduling. Trust us. You won’t regret it.

Looking for Additional Info?

When it comes to online doctor appointment scheduling, there’s no shortage of information to learn. It can definitely be a little much.

Whether you’re looking for more information about Skiplino Appointments, or just online doctor appointment scheduling in general, reach out to us. We’re here to help.

Latest

5 Ways Service Scheduler Software Can Optimize Your Time

5 Ways Service Scheduler Software Can Optimize Your Time

We’re going to begin this article with a bold, yet [...]

Streamlining Student Services: How Skiplino Enhances Efficiency in Education Institutions

Streamlining Student Services: How Skiplino Enhances Efficiency in Education Institutions

Revolutionizing Student Experiences Through Intelligent Queuing In the fast-paced world [...]

The Benefits of Skiplino’s Advanced Analytics for Business Optimization 

The Benefits of Skiplino’s Advanced Analytics for Business Optimization 

In an era driven by data, businesses need powerful tools [...]

Similar Reads

7 Reasons To Use Medical Appointment Scheduling Software

7 Reasons To Use Medical Appointment Scheduling Software

For your average patient, a trip to the doctor’s office [...]

You Really Need To Understand Why Customers Are Visiting Your Branches

You Really Need To Understand Why Customers Are Visiting Your Branches

Every business has a well defined target audience. It depends [...]

Streamlined Healthcare Scheduling: Skiplino’s Optimization

Streamlined Healthcare Scheduling: Skiplino’s Optimization

In today’s fast-paced world, time is of the essence, and [...]