Improving Productivity with Online Patient Self Scheduling

With NexHealth’s self-scheduling tool your patients can view your availability in real-time, giving them access to book after hours from any location and device.

NexHealth Marketing
NexHealth Marketing
August 22, 2022
See video transcript

Today, digital enablement is a very critical component of delivering a modern patient experience, making self-scheduling a key feature that patients look for when choosing their healthcare provider. By handing over the reins to manage their appointments and care, your staff doesn’t have to constantly chase after patients to book their next visit.

With this guide, we will convince you how important patient self-scheduling is for your practice to take it to the next level.

  • What is patient self-booking?
  • 8 benefits of using patient self-booking
  • Common reasons your practice may resist patient self-scheduling
  • How to set up patient self-scheduling

Let us start with the basics and quickly ramp up to how digital self-scheduling tools can offload scheduling tasks from your staff while still keeping your calendars full.

What is patient self-booking?

Patient self-scheduling empowers your patients to schedule their appointments through a booking app, your website, or through text messaging from their device and at any time, without the need for staff interaction. By offering this convenience, your patients are not dependent on your office hours.

Most patient self scheduling softwares just require patients to choose and confirm the time slot that works for them, which instantly syncs with your practice schedule, allowing for higher patient conversion. Patients also receive timely reminders to make sure that they keep their appointments, reducing no-shows and cancellation rates.

When you give your patients the option to schedule their appointments, it is no longer ‘your practice’; instead, it makes them an integral part of the process to manage ‘their care with their practice’.

8 benefits of using patient self-booking

Modern healthcare practices understand that convenience offered to patients can translate to more bookings and efficient practice management. If this is something your practice is struggling with, let us break down the benefits of offering self scheduling for your patients.

1. Cost-effective

elf booking tool on practice website

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 can find creative ways to place it so that instead of hunting them down, they come and find you.

2. Not bound by your office hours

In a study conducted by NexHealth, it was found that 73% of online appointments were booked after hours. This happens because your office hours overlap with your patient’s working hours, making it difficult for them to prioritize their health during that time. Offering the convenience of patient self-booking allows them to choose their care whenever they can, unrestricted by your business hours.

NexHealth’s real-time scheduling feature is built for better patient conversion as your visitors can see your availability in real-time and book their appointments from any location or device.

3. Acquire new patients

Instead of singing your own praise, try pointing your website visitors at your services and the convenience that you offer, letting your performance speak for itself and convince them to choose your care. Since your online presence is your biggest asset, you have the power to impress your audience even before they get to know your skills as a healthcare provider.

Book a demo with NexHealth today to see how you can hone your online presence and gain more traffic to your website that sends patients through your door.

4. Efficient operations

Practice dashboard

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.

5. Patient satisfaction

Satisfied patient rating practice

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

6. Reduces no-shows and cancellations

Missed appointment email sent to patient

The likelihood of forgetting the details of an appointment that was relayed by your staff is much higher than if your patient booked it on their own in their downtime after consulting their schedule. While this definitely reduces the risk of missed appointments, it doesn’t completely eliminate it.

With NexHealth you can come one step closer to mitigating this risk by setting up automated texts and email notifications that guide your patient on how to reschedule their visit with just a few taps.

7. Auto fills 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 (estimate) because of missed appointments.

You can delight your patients with NexHealth’s virtual waitlist feature, allowing 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.

8. Better calendar management

Practice calendar

As a healthcare provider, your goal must be to delegate and automate day-to-day tasks that ensure smooth operations while keeping your calendar full so that you can focus on providing quality care for your patients. When you use a robust tool like NexHealth that integrates with your practice management system and EHR, your calendar is always up-to-date as patients book their visits, helping you plan your day better.

While these benefits look exciting enough for you to jump on board, let us look at understanding the resistance that your peers may have in adopting a self-scheduling tool.

Common reasons your practice may resist patient self-scheduling

Resistance to technology stems from the fear of the unknown and the adjustments that inevitably follow. Here are some of the reasons why your practice may resist using an online patient self-scheduling software:

  • Losing control over scheduling appointments: Giving your patients the option to book their visit doesn’t mean that you no longer have any control. It simply means that they are sharing the responsibility of managing their care.
  • Uncertainty of adoption rates: Since many patients resist adopting technology, you won’t know for sure how self-scheduling will be received. But if you are ready to go digital to automate your patient communication, then think of making this investment for the long run because adoption rates will only rise as more and more patients prefer booking appointments themselves rather than having to call up your office.
  • Under utilizing staff: Traditionally, the primary role of your front office staff was to man the phone and schedule appointments. But today, digital healthcare tools enable practices to automate these routine tasks, freeing up your staff’s time to focus on delivering a great patient experience, managing your practice’s online presence, and marketing efforts that bring in more patients.
  • Losing personal touch with patients: While some of your patients enjoy engaging in small talk with your staff (and vice versa) in an appointment reminder call, it is not the most efficient method to communicate. Imagine the amount of time wasted making all those phone calls. But if you could send out automated text messages to your patients to book their appointment or remind them about an upcoming visit, you can ensure that they make it to your office, contributing to higher satisfaction numbers.
  • Losing their job: With digital automation, your staff may feel threatened about their future with your practice. By evolving their role into more than scheduling appointments, you can reassure them of their place while enabling them to learn new skills that can help improve patient engagement that results in the growth of your practice.

Now that we understand the benefits of self-booking and have addressed the elephant in the room that is stopping you from getting on board, let us tell you how easy it is to get set up.

How to set up patient self-scheduling

When setting up patient self booking for your practice, you want to have a strategy in place where you can reap the benefits of the tool, test it properly before rolling it out, and communicate it well to ensure higher adoption. Let us get you set up!

1. Offer an integrated patient engagement platform

Providing your patients one platform to manage all their communication, payments, reminders, feedback surveys and registrations is a systematic way for both you and your patient to manage their care. While the platform acts as an interface for your user, having it integrate with your practice management system and EHR is what makes it a complete 360-degree solution.

2. Properly defined time-slots

Different appointment types

Before putting out available time slots, think about the average length of an appointment; allow for 5-10 minutes on either side in case the appointment runs longer than usual while keeping in mind the type of treatment that the patient may come in for. You can define a certain number of appointment types and define their duration,  allowing patients to book their preferred time while still ensuring the time-slots suit treatment needs.

3. Inform your patients about the tool

Once you have everything set up, you want to apprise your patients about adopting the self scheduling tool. You can do this when they come in for a visit, send them an email or text message with a link to schedule their visit, or announce it on social media.

4. Teach them how to use the service

To ensure adoption rates, share content on how to use your scheduling tool or talk about its benefits, features, and convenience. For older patients that aren’t as tech-savvy, offer an in-person demo by taking them through each step of the process.

5. Automate your virtual waitlists

Automated waitlist outreach text message

By setting up automated outreach messages that go out to your patients when a time slot opens up, you give them the opportunity to move up their appointment. By simply replying to the text message, your patients can successfully schedule their appointment. This takes the convenience of patient-scheduling a step further, enhancing the patient experience and allowing you to increase productivity.

Empower your patients with NexHealth!

Practices that use NexHealth acquire 15 to 45 new patients a month, speaking directly to the ease and experience of real-time, 1- click booking. Offering a self-booking tool not only reduces the dependency on your staff but also brings transparency to the process.

Schedule a demo today to find out how NexHealth can transform your practice and keep your calendars full by allowing your patients to book their visits from your website and social media!

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