It's no secret that the healthcare industry is in a state of flux. Patients are shouldering more responsibility for their care than ever before, and doctors and hospitals are feeling the squeeze as they try to keep up with demand. One way that both patients and providers can ease the pressure is by using patient self scheduling tools.
Self-scheduling allows patients to schedule their own appointments online or through a mobile app, without having to go through a call center or wait on hold. This simple change can have a big impact on both patient satisfaction and provider productivity.
Patient self scheduling can help medical practices by reducing no-shows, increasing efficiency, and improving communication between patients and providers.
Self-scheduled appointments also tend to be shorter because there is less time spent waiting on paperwork or verifying insurance information. All of these factors add up to happier patients and fewer headaches for staff members!
Meanwhile, benefits for patients include greater control over appointment times, reduced stress levels, and improved access to care since they don't have to work around someone else's schedule.
Ready to learn more about how patient self-scheduling can help your medical practice?
Barriers to Patient Access
Patients face many barriers when trying to access healthcare. One of the most significant barriers is the lack of availability of appointments during traditional business hours.
This can make it difficult for patients who work odd hours or have limited access to their phones during their shifts.
Self-scheduling eliminates this barrier, giving patients 24/7 access to the schedule and making it quick and easy to claim an appointment.
A recent Accenture report found that 43% of self-scheduled appointments are booked after business hours. This allows patients to get the care they need without having to take time off from work or miss important family time.
What Is Patient Self-Scheduling?
Patient self-scheduling is the ability for patients to schedule their healthcare appointments online via a portal, website, or through text messaging, anytime, day or night, without staff interaction.
Self-scheduling is fast and convenient for patients and saves tremendous time and resources for healthcare organizations that have previously relied on staff to schedule appointments.
Self-scheduling is well on its way to healthcare organizations in the United States. The trend is inevitable as patients have been able to self-schedule dinner reservations, book flights, and request service appointments from smartphones, tablets, and computers for years — it’s now an expectation that patients will seek out healthcare providers that can provide them that convenience.
So, how does patient self-scheduling work?
When a patient goes to a healthcare provider’s website, they will be able to see available appointment times and schedule an appointment that works best for them.
The patient’s information is then sent to the healthcare provider’s office and they will receive a confirmation of the appointment.
Patient self-scheduling is a win-win for both patients and healthcare providers. Patients get the convenience of being able to schedule their appointments when it works best for them and healthcare providers save time and resources.
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How Can Patient Self Scheduling Help Medical Practices
If you're looking to improve efficiency and communication with patients, patient self-scheduling can help.
Here's how patient self-scheduling can help your medical practice.
1. Improves Patient Satisfaction
The amount of time saved is enough to get your patients excited about self-scheduling. The average person spends about 8 minutes on the phone when scheduling an appointment, and a significant chunk of this 8-minute time is wasted being put on hold and being transferred to different staff.
In fact, 63% of patient calls are transferred, which is a great way to annoy your patients and make them hang up.
Compared to self-scheduling, it takes patients only 2 minutes to schedule an appointment. Add the convenience of having 24/7 access to the schedule and that experience is pretty hard to beat.
With the growth of social media outlets and online reviews, patients now have more ways to share their experiences with your practice. This makes it more important than ever to ensure patients are satisfied with their care.
2. Saves Money
A self-scheduled appointment doesn’t require any assistance from your staff, but a phone call to schedule an appointment does. That 4 minutes of phone conversation is a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere.
The saved time between self-scheduling and phone scheduling equals 1 FTE for every 100 appointments.
The math is pretty simple: If you schedule 6 new patients a day, you’ll break even on a scheduling tool. Every patient after that saves you $1.
3. Improves Employee Engagement
You have an incredible team, and you want them engaged with their patients. Giving them time away from tedious tasks that machines can do frees them up for more meaningful interactions with your patients and to apply their creative talents to projects only humans can do. Implementing efficient employee engagement software can further enhance this by streamlining communication and project management, ensuring your team stays focused on what truly matters.
4. Attracts New Patients
Providing patients with the ability to schedule their own appointments is a great way to differentiate yourself from other practices. By offering this convenience, you show that you are sensitive to your patient’s needs and aware of their expectations.
5. Reduces No-Shows
When a patient schedules their own appointment, they’re more likely to show up as they’ve made their own plans. This engagement means they are less likely to cancel, and if they do, they let you know in advance.
6. Minimizes Non-Billable Hours
Cancellations are a major source of lost revenue for hospitals and medical practices because only 15% of canceled slots are filled. Moreover, 90% of doctors don’t use a waiting list.
An automatic waitlist notifies patients in the queue who can immediately text to claim an opening. This eliminates the tedious task of manually contacting each patient.
Ultimately, it eliminates the hassle of manually dialing phone numbers and rescheduling appointments.
7. Provides Patients with After-Hours Access
Self-scheduling gives your patients access to the schedule 24/7 without requiring you to hire after-hours staff or pay a call center to provide this service.
This can improve your communication with patients by reducing the number of missed appointments.
Pro Tip: use Upvio appointment scheduling software. Upvio helps reducing unnecessary admin time and free up front desk staff to focus on patient care, reduce no-show and improve patient satisfaction.
Physician Buy-In for Patient Self-Scheduling Tools Remains Elusive
Many physicians are concerned that self-scheduling will lead to patients making appointments outside of their normal work hours, which could disrupt the physician’s workflow.
Some physicians also worry that self-scheduling will lead to patients making appointments that are not medically necessary. However, there is no evidence to support these concerns.
Patient self-scheduling is a key part of improving patients’ access to care. It is up to organizational leaders to work with physicians to find solutions that address their concerns while still meeting the demands and expectations of our patients.
6 Reasons to Offer Patient Self-Scheduling
There are many reasons why you should consider offering patient self scheduling options in your medical practice.
1. It's Convenient for Patients
Self-scheduling is a convenient way for patients to schedule their appointments. They can do so at their convenience, without having to call the office or wait for someone to schedule them.
2. It Reduces Inbound Calls
By offering self-scheduling, you can reduce the number of inbound scheduling calls, which frees up staff time to focus on other tasks.
3. It's Efficient
Self-scheduling is an efficient way to schedule appointments. Patients can choose their own appointment times, which eliminates the need for back-and-forth scheduling between the patient and the office.
4. It's Flexible
Self-scheduling is a flexible way to schedule appointments. If a patient needs to change their appointment time, they can easily do so without having to contact the office.
5. It's Easy to Use
Self-scheduling is easy to use. Patients can quickly and easily schedule their appointments online or through a mobile app.
6. It's Affordable
Self-scheduling is an affordable way to schedule appointments. There is no need to pay for a call center or hire additional staff to handle scheduling.
FAQs About Patient Self Scheduling
Why is patient self-scheduling vital?
Patients can now schedule their own appointments, making the process easier for them and cutting out the receptionist or call center in the middle.
What are the different types of patient scheduling?
- Wave scheduling
- Time slot scheduling
- Stream scheduling
- Open booking
- Clustering scheduling
- Double scheduling
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Patient self scheduling can help medical practices by reducing no-shows, increasing patient satisfaction, and improving efficiency. However, it's important to choose the right tool for your practice to get these benefits.
If you're looking for a way to streamline your scheduling and make it more efficient, consider using Upvio. Our software is designed to help teams of all sizes manage their schedules better and connect with patients through telemedicine.