Doctors and other small medical providers may be missing out on visits from existing patients or new ones by not allowing them online appointment scheduling via mobile device or computer.
The public seems to show a preference for doing many things via the Internet or mobile apps these days. It only stands to reason that they want to schedule their doctor’s appointments as well.
Chalk it up to the convenience factor, as well as the popularity of websites, smartphones and gadgets, which allow us to do so many varying things with the ease of tapping of a screen icon.
PatientPop, an online platform for medical providers that allows for online appointment scheduling, among other things, predicts that, based on research, online appointment scheduling of medical appointments is on an upward track. This trend only stands to grow in popularity, as well.
Researcher Accenture conducted the survey, which took place last month. Polled were 3,105 adults living in the U.S. The goal was to build an understanding as to what percentage of the patient population is using or would use online appointment scheduling to book appointments with their healthcare provider today. The survey also sought to measure what percentage of patients were scheduling appointments online versus via a telephone call.
In total, the survey’s findings are based on an data that included 13,694 appointment requests, as well as 182 medical practice websites.
Small medical providers should offer online appointment scheduling for a number of reasons, some of which are listed below.
It’s What Patients Want
Specifically, research shows 17 percent of patients surveyed scheduled a doctor’s appointment via a website or app within the past year. An additional 42 percent of them said they would have scheduled an appointment online – but that they didn’t have the opportunity.
Online Scheduling’s Future Valued in the Billions
By 2019’s end, 66 percent of U.S. health systems will offer digital self-scheduling. Also, 64 percent of patients will book appointments using these online systems. Altogether, nearly 38 percent – meaning 986 million – appointments will be self-scheduled, a bulk said to be worth $3.2 billion for these providers. If you want to ensure your piece of the piece, jump on this bandwagon.
Practices Can Hone Competitive Edge
By offering the convenience of online appointment scheduling, practices can improve the patient experience, which will provide them with a competitive advantage in their market.
Younger Demographic Prefers It
The 25-34-year-old demographic now used online scheduling the most. In addition, this group reportedly also shows the highest preference for using online appointment scheduling. By targeting this demographic, your practice can leverage this established interest to address the larger 18-to-34-year-old age group. Overall, online scheduling should be viewed as a major component of a company’s retention and acquisition strategy.
Online Scheduling Reduces Strain on Office Staff
According to the survey, 34 percent of appointments that are scheduled online are done after the office is closed. This means that by offering 24/7 convenience of online scheduling, practices can increase their number of overall appointments while reducing any added strain on the business’s office administration.
New Patients Will Seek It Out
The data is clear that new patients are scheduling the vast majority of online appointments, some 63 percent. Common sense proclaims that practices that offer online appointment scheduling can expect to attract more new patients than practices that don’t offer the online option.
Online Scheduling Keeps Waiting Rooms Full
While only 6 percent of online appointment requests were for appointments on the same day that the appointment was scheduled, more than three times that amount, about 20 percent, were for next-day appointments. Most however, (26 percent) were scheduled online for same-day or next-day slots.
It Reduces No-Shows
With phone-call scheduling, the number of people who fail to show up for an appointment (the non-attendance rate) ranges from 10 percent to 25 percent, averaging out at 14 percent. By simply offering online scheduling, practices can keep more their waiting rooms fuller by reducing the number of no-shows.
People Dislike Talking on the Phone
When the survey asked about preference for booking a doctor’s appointment via a website or app, with no need to call the office, some 42 percent indicated this is the preferable scenario.
Demand is There Now
Of the 13,694 appointments requested from practice websites, 6,766, or 49.4 percent, were scheduled via the telephone. The rest, 50.6 percent or 6,928 patients scheduled their appointment online.
Online Booking Photo via Shutterstock