Scheduling appointments for patients may look simple -- just enter patient names into available slots in your calendar and you're done. But, you notice that many of your patients are no-shows, and your staff is spending an inordinate amount of time trying to reschedule them. As you realize that finding the appointment time that works best for you and your patient is becoming more and more difficult, you stumble into this little tool called appointment setting software.
This article dives into everything you need to know about patient appointment setting software, including how to set up a patient scheduler, what features to look for, and how to implement best practices.
How Appointment Setting Software Works
Scheduling patient appointments, whether through manual or automated means, involves the booking of patients for meetings and follow-ups.
If you are a moderately-busy practice, manually booking appointments is not helpful because a lot of time will be wasted trying to find a mutually-agreeable appointment. Patients will call your front office and waste minutes searching through your appointment book, going back and forth with staff.
A potential new client says that she has time for an appointment on Wednesday at 10 am. Your receptionist then tries to schedule her for 2:30 pm, but the potential client says she will be working at that time. Then, imagine if a new caller is on hold.
Scheduling appointments can be a hassle for clinics, especially when you’re dealing with multiple patients at once. That’s why many practices use appointment setting software that automates the process. This software gives your patients the ability to book a consultation online, fill out any required paperwork, and pay their fees before confirming their spot.
Don’t assume that your patients are annoyed at having to do this themselves. In fact, a survey found that 90% of customers expect you to have a self-service portal.
Does Your Practice Need Appointment Setting Software?
The answer is yes. From the moment your patients contact you, you should be committed to providing them with an exceptional, stress-free, and seamless healthcare service.
Add an appointment scheduling feature to your website or blog. This will save both you and your client time, and will also reduce the likelihood of a missed appointment.
If you are just starting out, you may not have the budget to pay for online scheduling. That’s fine. Just get a free trial, and then upgrade to the paid plan as your client base increases.
No matter how big or small your practice, it’s important to look as professional and credible as possible. Be sure to include contact information, such as a telephone number or email address, so customers can reach you if their schedule cannot fit your availability.
Here are some of the signs that your clinic is ready to switch to automated appointment setting software.
- Your staff spends an enormous amount of time on the phone trying to look for suitable appointment times for patients.
- Your staff frequently calls patients to remind them of appointments.
- Your patients complain of long wait times on the phone.
- You have plenty of patient no-shows.
- You have disorganized Google spreadsheets filled with messy patient appointments.
If your clinic staff spends too much time on patient scheduling, then it's time to invest in appointment setting software.
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Benefits of Appointment Setting Software
- It allows your front desk staff to focus on other issues.
- It allows patients to book an appointment outside business hours.
- It promotes patient self-service.
- It reduces no-show rates.
- It automates tasks like appointment notifications and invoice generation.
- It allows integration with third-party applications.
- It automatically syncs with your calendar.
Features to Look for in Appointment Setting Software
When selecting a patient scheduling software, consider the following features.
Auto Scheduling and Appointment Management
Clinics use appointment setting software to automate the process of finding open slots for patients in the doctor's schedule and notifying you once they’ve booked. Your app should show all available times, and your client should have the option to book the next upcoming day, week, or month. Once a patient has booked an appointment, you should receive an alert.
Apart from the ability to automatically book new patient consultations, your software should also be able to schedule recurring appointments. So, you can set an appointment for every patient that comes in on the second Tuesday of every month at 10 am. That appointment will remain unavailable for other clients until it is booked.
If your practice has more than one consultant, your patients can choose which doctor they want to see.
Features that you should look for in appointment booking software are automatic schedule creation, the ability to set reoccurring bookings, allowing clinicians to choose their own schedules, the ability to see the status of each booked slot, a waiting list feature, and a color-coded calendar.
Patients can schedule appointments online using appointment software that embeds a shareable link to your webpage or social media profile. When a patient clicks the link, they are redirected to an online booking form where they can select a convenient date and time.
Some medical practices require their patients to pay for a consultation before meeting with the doctor. An online booking system can automate this process by including a feature that accepts payments online and generates automatic invoices.
When a patient books an appointment, they select a specific time and are directed to a checkout page. The chosen time is then automatically blocked and the patient is now scheduled for it.
One of the primary reasons why practices integrate their practice management software with an appointment scheduling service is to reduce missed appointments. Even with just a slight increase in the number of no-shows, a practice can lose tens of thousands of dollars a year. Auto reminders reduce the percentage of no-shows by 29%.
An automated reminder service helps automate the process of reminding patients about their appointments. For example, after a patient schedules an appointment with you, the confirmation message is automatically sent. Then, the scheduler automatically reminds you of the scheduled appointment.
You can choose whether you want the messages to be sent via email, text message, or both.
After the appointment, you can send a survey to the patient to rate how it went. You can also follow up with your patients after an appointment to remind them of future appointments. By keeping in touch with your patients and keeping them happy, your healthcare practice will improve its image.
With online medical office management software, you can collect important information from new patients through the portal. When a patient arrives, they do not have to fill out paperwork before they’re seen by the doctor.
Besides being able to gather all the information you need about your client, the database can store information that is easily accessible. You won’t have to search through dozens of folders anymore because you can simply type in the client’s name or ID number and retrieve all the relevant information.
A patient’s online portal allows them to access their medical records, view their scheduled appointments, and contact the front desk.
A doctor’s booking system should include a client interface that makes it easy for clients to input their information. This will give them a greater sense of involvement in the process and will make them more likely to book.
Physician Workflow Management
Appointment apps allow physicians to block out times that are unavailable for appointments. They also reduce time spent on scheduling and re-scheduling, and on tasks that aren’t billable.
Third-Party App Integration
Don’t just look for an online appointment booking system that has a ton of features. Make sure it integrates with other software tools you use.
Because you may want to brand the booking form, including a checkout form, and pull reports from the software.
Look for medical practice management software that lets you schedule appointments, track cancellations, and generate comprehensive analytics. Having these numbers can help you determine where you need to focus your efforts and where you can improve your practice.
Pro Tip: Upgrade your practice's scheduling system with Upvio's appointment setting software and see the difference it can make for your practice.. With Upvio, you can streamline your scheduling process and reduce unnecessary admin time for your front desk staff, allowing them to focus on patient care. Upvio's comprehensive control of services, staff, locations, and shifts helps avoid clashes, double bookings, and unnecessary communication. The software also simplifies group bookings, and custom notifications can be set to avoid no-shows. Plus, Upvio offers seamless calendar synchronization, easy setup for recurring and one-time bookings, and location flexibility for hybrid teams.
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If you're looking for a way to streamline your operations and keep your team organized, appointment setting software is a great option. This type of software can help you avoid conflicts, stay on track, and make scheduling simpler.
Upvio is the perfect solution for teams who need reliable, easy-to-use scheduling and telemedicine software. Our software helps you schedule appointments quickly and easily, while also providing all the features you need to keep your team organized.