How to Improve Patient Scheduling and Fill Cancellations

Practices are always looking for ways to improve patient scheduling and fill cancellations. Here are four tips that can help make your practice more efficient!

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If the only difference between you and the practice next door is having a modern patient scheduling tool that sends patients through their door, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that the answer has been in front of your eyes all along! When your practice is committed to improving patient scheduling, you will automatically see happier and more satisfied patients, who will help you bring in more patients.

Along with pointing you in the right direction to the best-performing solution, guaranteed to deliver the results you want to see for your practice, this article will cover the following topics:

Let us start by helping you understand why improving patient scheduling is important so your competition doesn’t snatch away patients from under your nose.

Six reasons why improving patient scheduling is so important

While booking appointments should be your top priority, you can’t expect it to be your patient’s. This makes it imperative that you offer a simple and non-tedious solution so your patients can book their appointment with their eyes closed!

Here are six reasons for improving patient scheduling that will grow your practice:

1. Patients can book an appointment 24/7 

A study conducted by NexHealth found that 73% of online appointments were booked after hours. If your practice still relies on phone calls to make an appointment with your patients, then you are running an inefficient practice. This may deter new patients from entering your office and cause them to knock on your competitor's door (likely one that allows them to schedule appointments online). Patients today won’t hesitate to switch their healthcare provider if they are offered something better elsewhere. Along with delivering good quality care, offering a modern patient experience is critical to running a successful practice.

2. Improve website conversion to acquire new patients


Your practice can run a sizable invoice with the marketing budget in an effort to acquire new patients. With one of the highest costs per acquisition of $126, it is imperative that your healthcare practice always prompts your audience with a CTA to schedule an appointment. Whether you embed the self-booking tool on your website, on their email, or leave them with a CTA on your social media, you improve your website conversion by enabling patients to book you without a phone call at any time of the day.

3. Reduce no-shows and cancellations


Since most patient scheduling tools send automatic reminders and the option to reschedule your appointments, you’ll see those missed and canceled appointment numbers come down because your patients never forget about their visit.

4. Auto fill last-minute cancellations


By providing a virtual waitlist, you are not sending your patients away from your door but leaving them with some hope that their appointment could be moved up sooner because of a possible cancellation. Your practice loses out on an annual billing of $170,000 because of missed appointments.

You can delight your patients with NexHealth’s virtual waitlist feature, which allows you to fill open slots in your calendar due to missed or canceled appointments. NexHealth sends out automated text messages to your patients, who can simply respond if they are interested, with data automatically syncing with your practice management system and calendar to reflect the change.

5. Improved patient Satisfaction


Having control over appointments and other aspects of their care makes your patients more invested in their health. With NexHealth, you are laying a strong foundation for delivering a great digital experience that will contribute to higher patient loyalty and fuller calendars for your practice.

6. Increase staff productivity


If your staff is spending a good chunk of their day scheduling, rescheduling, and canceling appointments, that deters their focus from providing a great patient experience. Is that truly an efficient use of their time?

When you equip your patients with the right tools to manage their appointments, your staff can streamline their workflow processes. What you get with NexHealth is a powerful bidirectional integration that syncs your appointments with your practice management system, enabling you to operate with maximum efficiency.

The traditional way of booking appointments was a tedious routine involving several time-consuming tasks. However, with the right appointment system, healthcare practices can offer patients the ability to book online or through an app, which means most administrative booking tasks are automated, reducing staff time. In addition, this frees up time for the staff to work on other duties within the clinic.

Seven features that can improve patient appointment scheduling 

If you’ve found yourself asking your team how patient scheduling can be improved, then you are not alone. You are one of the many practices discovering different answers to the problem of optimizing their day-to-day operations. Check out NexHealth’s approach to patient scheduling best practices that fill schedules and save time.

1. Online Scheduling 

Best for: Patient Acquisition

Online scheduling allows patients to schedule appointments at their leisure, avoiding the need for back-and-forth phone calls and waiting times. The availability of this self-service option improves the patient experience and may attract new patients who prefer digital interfaces over traditional booking methods.

Patients can monitor your availability in real-time and book appointments that best fit their calendar with NexHealth's Online Scheduling function. It also allows you to personalize appointment types, so your patients know what to expect before they even walk into the office.

2. Smart Waitlist

Best for: Patient Retention

Turning away patients at the door by telling them that you don’t have any appointments to accommodate them is a short-sighted approach that may cost you opportunities for growth.

Instead, offering them the opportunity to sign up on a virtual waiting list that can automatically move up their appointment (if they want to) in case of cancellations gives your patients hope and the willingness to stick around with you longer. Practices that use NexHealth have reported that when the ASAP list sends out alerts to their patients about an open appointment slot, it gets filled out in less than 10 minutes.

3. 1-Click Recalls

Best for: Patient Acquisition | Patient Retention

If a patient finds themselves on your appointment booking page, they are already sold on your services, so your goal must be to land them on the ‘Confirmed Appointment’ message with minimum resistance.

With NexHealth’s 1-Click Booking feature, your patients can book their appointment with just one tap, as opposed to traditional online booking methods that take an average of 15 minutes. Save your patients from needlessly navigating through multiple screens and filling out redundant information.

Check out our 1-Click Booking explainer video to see how easy it is.

4. Email Marketing Campaigns

Best for: Patient Retention

Email marketing campaigns are a powerful tool for keeping your practice at the forefront of your patients' minds. These campaigns can establish long-term relationships by informing customers about new services, providing health suggestions, or simply reminding them to make their next appointment.

The Email Marketing Automation feature in NexHealth allows you to send automated, tailored emails to your patients based on their specific requirements and interactions. This could include reminders for annual check-ups, post-treatment follow-ups, or any other health-related information. This type of individualized communication improves patient happiness and fosters long-term partnerships.

5. Two-way messaging

Best for: Patient Retention

Text messages have a staggeringly high open rate of 98%, giving practices the opportunity to engage with their patients in the palm of their hands. Instead of having their downtime interrupted by phone calls, your patients prefer the convenience of responding to text messages. NexHealth’s two-way messaging feature is HIPAA-compliant and doesn’t require any app installation by your patient; it also allows you to conveniently send out appointment bookings, digital forms, and payment links.

Check out how increased patient engagement helped practices using NexHealth achieve 100% growth in less than a year.

6. EHR Integration

Best for: Patient Acquisition | Patient Retention | Operational Efficiency

Electronic Health Record (EHR) integration is a key element in modern healthcare operations. It simplifies the process of preserving and accessing patient records, boosting both data accuracy and practice efficiency. This improves not only patient care but also the patient experience, resulting in higher retention and acquisition rates.

NexHealth's EHR integration tool, called the NexHealth Synchronizer, connects your scheduling system to your EHR, allowing data to flow seamlessly between platforms. This real-time integration guarantees that patient data is consistent across all touchpoints and lowers the likelihood of data entry errors, saving your administrative team valuable time and effort.

7. Data-driven reports

Best for: Patient Acquisition | Patient Retention | Patient Recall

Analyzing data to study appointment booking patterns, cancellation frequency, patient satisfaction scores, and other such parameters can help you make business decisions that will be conducive to the growth of your practice. With a centralized dashboard that collates data across platforms, NexHealth’s Healthcare Analytics can help you visualize your practice’s performance and address valuable feedback before it’s too late.

What is the best approach to handling patient cancellations?

Patient cancellations are an unavoidable element of running a healthcare practice. While it might seem like a disruption, this scenario actually presents an opportunity to reoptimize your schedule and accommodate other patients in need. The key lies in efficient handling and rescheduling of these cancellations.

Reschedule the patient who cancelled or no-showed

Rescheduling these patients shows that your practice values their health journey and keeps patient satisfaction high, which in turn promotes loyalty and retention.

If a patient no shows, when you mark an appointment as “missed” in your health record system, NexHealth triggers a customized no-show message via text and email for a patient to re-book. If you have a no-show fee policy, you can request that payment from the patient in the Payments tab.

If a patient cancels, NexHealth knows to automatically trigger a customized email on the day of their original appointment asking them to rebook, in 1 click.

Additionally, NexHealth’s two-way messaging feature is a convenient tool to troubleshoot and communicate with patients to help them schedule a new appointment. It’s a HIPAA-compliant feature that allows your team to engage with the patient who cancelled, understand their concerns or reasons for cancellation, and promptly provide alternative appointment options that might better fit their schedule by sending them an online scheduling link.

Fill the open time slot with an ASAP patient

NexHealth's Smart Waitlist functionality is a great answer for this. It’s a digital waitlist that shows your patients appointment availability to fill your open calendar slots. When a cancellation happens, the system quickly tells patients on the waitlist about the open slot, which is often filled in less than 10 minutes. This not only ensures that your clinic maintains strong usage rates, but it also responds to the demands of patients who require early appointments.

How to improve patient scheduling with NexHealth

You don’t want something as basic as patient scheduling to be the reason you lose out on a patient to your competition next door. Having a superior patient scheduling tool like NexHealth allows your practice to run like a well-oiled machine, leaving you to focus on the care that you deliver.

Book your demo today to feel the power of an end-to-end digital patient experience with NexHealth.

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