Each week, your office schedules hundreds of appointments. Scheduling duties like negotiating follow-ups, sending reminders, and creating new appointments are all pivotal to a successful clinical workflow. That said, they can also suck up a ton of your staff’s time, which is often at a premium.

Online scheduling software programs eliminate wasted time and increase medical office efficiency. Here are the top 5 reasons for considering an online scheduling software this year:

1. Increase Staff Productivity

SolutionReach.com notes, “The average phone call to schedule, reschedule, or cancel an appointment takes over eight minutes.”

It only takes 7 scheduling calls to fill an hour of your staff’s time each day. This process accumulates an average cost of $5,500 a year or more (based on 1 hour a day and an employee wage of $20 an hour).

Eliminate wasted time by implementing an online, automated scheduling software. Patients schedule appointments and receive reminders directly from the software, freeing your staff to focus on patients at the office.

2. Decrease Front Office Distractions

Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine, says “multiple studies show it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after an interruption.”

Phone scheduling calls keep your staff unfocused and distracted most of the day. Distractions often lead to costly errors and mistakes.

Your front office has many duties to perform throughout the day, including customer service, greeting patients, answering questions, clerical tasks, and collecting and processing patient forms. Constant appointment scheduling often interrupts these important duties. Streamlining the scheduling process frees staff to complete their required jobs.

3. Create Loyal And Engaged Patients

If you’re not listening to your patients, you’re losing money.

According to research by Accenture, a significant number of patients believe that the ability to self-schedule their appointment is a priority. Accenture says, “Of patients who were not chronically ill, 77 percent feel that self-scheduling electronically is important, and 89 percent of chronically ill patients feel it is important.”

Patients benefit from the ease of online scheduling. They can complete essential forms, schedule appointments, and check appointment status all without contacting your office.

4. Reduce The Expense Of Scheduling Patients

With new advances and the low cost of scheduling technology you can cut back on the unnecessary expense of a human appointment scheduler.

Expand your practice’s patient capacity while freeing your existing staff to focus on more important tasks. Online scheduling also improves communication among staff for more effective and efficient work.

5. Accomplish More Tasks

Online appointment scheduling offers many features beyond appointment scheduling. With a reliable online appointment scheduling system, your practice can:

  • Eliminate the need for staff to schedule, move, or cancel an appointment via phone or in-person. Online appointment scheduling frees staff to focus on important issues.

  • Handle everything via computer - right down to finding open appointments that meet the patient’s needs. Online appointment booking software helps even the non-tech savvy patients easily book an appointment.

  • Remind patients easily. Many softwares send out auto reminders to patients, days and even hours before their appointment (via email, phone, text, or even mail).“I forgot,” is no longer a valid excuse.

  • Answer easy questions without an appointment. Many softwares include HIPAA Compliant screening processes that weed out easier medical issues and questions. Resolve simple diagnoses without scheduling an appointment.

  • Create a patient waiting list that automatically inserts a new patient when an appointment is cancelled.

  • Penalize patients that miss appointments without notifying the office of a valid reason.

  • Many appointment systems also allow the office to upload pre-appointment forms. The patient can fill these forms out ahead of time, instead of wasting appointment time.

Other Important Appointment Software Facts:

  • The majority of patients prefer to schedule their own appointments online.

  • You’re not alone. Many health care providers struggle with optimizing their scheduling strategy.

  • 26 percent of appointments scheduled online are for the same day or the next day, filling up empty spots on your schedule.

  • With Internet access from almost anywhere, practices can now offer real-time patient scheduling anytime and from anywhere - even at 3 a.m.

  • Online scheduling isn’t new to other service providers, but it’s new to healthcare. However, like other service providers, online scheduling offers greater convenience for both practice and provider.

  • Scheduling software improves staff and doctor communication. With appointment scheduling, the doctors and other staff know what’s on the plate for that day. Staff can prepare ahead of time - they know when others will be busy.

  • Patients not only want scheduling software, it increases patient satisfaction with their providers.

  • Patients that have to wait for hours quickly become unhappy. By streamlining the appointment process and having patients scheduled ahead of time decreases patient wait time and increases satisfaction.

  • Knowing who’s coming in ahead of time lets staff verify that they're eligible for insurance, and verify your office has all the information needed to process the patient quickly.

What Patients Are Telling Researchers

Patients value online medical access, including the ability to schedule. In studies and surveys of patient’s wants and needs, Accenture learned:

  • 80 percent  of chronically ill patients, and 69 percent of non-chronically ill consider it important to receive text, phone, or email reminders of their appointments.

  • 65 percent  of chronically ill patients and 58 percent  of non-chronically ill patients consider it important to be able to interact with their medical provider through secure email.

  • 79 percent  of chronically ill patients and 65 percent  of non-chronically ill patients consider it important to be able to request prescriptions electronically.

  • 96 percent  of chronically ill and 97 percent  of non-chronically ill say access to their medical records is important.

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