Here lies the key to this debate:
Online appointment bookings are about what the patient wants. From a service perspective, online bookings are available 24/7. A patient does not have to wait for your practice to open to book. If you are looking to improve your service, isn’t it better to have something a patient is seeking and letting them have access to your services, when they want them and how they want to access them?
What does it cost to implement online bookings?
This is dependant on your practice’s software but once implemented the ongoing costs are around $200 – $300 per month. SMS appointments can be plugged into this service as well and are based on carrier rates of around 5c to 20c per reminder.
From a financial perspective – With the popularity of online appointment bookings only set to rise in the future the savings in implementing online bookings are easily justifiable and reduce practice overhead running costs.
3. Benefits of online appointment bookings
These are straightforward:
Ease of booking
Patients can book 24/7 at a time that suits them
Reduce practice running costs
They will only become more popular in the future
If an online appointment is cancelled via an integrated SMS response this allows you to immediately re-book another patient with no loss of revenue.
Note – Online bookings are best integrated with your practice’s software program. There are a number of providers that supply the service via an email system that front office staff then have to double handle into your practice’s software. Not very efficient and emails can be missed.
4. Online appointment bookings – Too hard and complex to implement
I hear this as a big drawback as most practices have a number of criteria including appointment lengths and costs dependant on the service required.
I was on my local dentists website the other day and they have fifteen different procedures available for online bookings. The website was well laid out and was easy to find the appointment that best suited my needs.
Technology today can overcome any number of hurdles. Once you lay out the process the solution is far easier than you perceive. People have walked on the moon and your phone is probably a supercomputer, so online appointment bookings for your practice are possible.
5. What does it take to make the change to online appointment bookings?
Change – The biggest challenge. What has to change in order to make online appointment bookings happen in your practice?
Mapping out a simple plan and communicating to all staff what’s involved, why, the benefits, timetable of what’s happening, testing, training and go live date will go a long way in helping the implementation process.
Most of change is about getting the mindset right. As with all change there are possible teething problems, highlight these upfront and set expectations. Mostly they are ensuring adequate training levels of all staff to operate the system.
The great feature about online bookings (if integrated into your practice’s software) is there is very little training needed.
Ensure your practice’s software has a trailed and tested online appointment booking system.
As you can see there are many benefits to online appointment bookings.
I am happily married to a doctor and have been for over 10 years. I know medical practice staff are always busy so I decided to use my website and online skills to help free up time, drive practice excellence and improve patient care.