The Big Picture of Patient Self-Scheduling

Posted by Brad Veach Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Patient self-scheduling improves the patient experience

For decades, most patients have made appointments by calling their physician’s office. But now that is all beginning to change. In the age of smartphones, where consumer-centric technology is ever-present, health systems are starting to adapt. Patient self-scheduling is on the rise. In fact, a recent study by Accenture estimates that 66% of US health systems will offer patient self-scheduling by the end of 2019. The primary reason? A better patient experience. For example, the same Accenture study also shows that 77 percent of patients think the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important. 

As practices enable patient self-scheduling technology, a myriad of short and long-term benefits emerge. Patient self-scheduling makes it much faster to align patient demand with provider availability. In fact, the Accenture study found it takes less than one minute to schedule a medical appointment online. In contrast, scheduling by phone takes an average of over eight minutes. Patients who self-schedule also typically have higher show rates.

Incorporating Automated Business Rules
As we’ve discussed before, chances are if you ask a provider to open their schedule for patients and other providers to access at will, they’re going to say, “No.” While more appointments means more revenue, if patients and other providers have unrestricted access to a provider’s calendar, then the provider can lose control and end up in a nightmare scenario. Patient self-scheduling technology that automates the process with customized business rules, drives efficiency while ensuring bookings match scheduling workflows. In short, business rules protect providers calendars and allow them to maintain control.

Allowing for this level of control of each calendar at the provider level, is the key to pushing patient self-scheduling into the mainstream. Providers don’t have to fear that their protocols and scheduling rules will be overlooked. Instead they can rest assured that any digital bookings will be done in strict accordance with their preferences. In our experience, this level of confidence has been vital to gaining provider adoption when implementing a patient self-scheduling solution across a disparate network of providers.

Grow Market Share
Offering a patient self-scheduling solution that meets providers’ needs is great, but what about patient adoption? It means little if patients don’t use the service. Thankfully, patients are chomping at the bit for this type of convenience and easy access. Meeting consumers where they are, on any device at any time, results in a significant increase to patient acquisition. One of our medical group customers booked 3,000 new patient appointments in the first three months after the incorporation of patient self-scheduling. It’s also commonplace to see the addition of 3 new patients per provider per month consistently, month after month across our provider group, hospital, and health system clients.

When you consider the downstream value of a new patient, roughly $900 per year (as a moderate average estimate). The potential revenue from patient self-scheduling is staggering. For example, a 100 provider medical group experiencing these results could generate $3.2 million in new patient revenue per year (100 providers x 3 new patients x 12 months x $900). Even just the value of a single patient visit (let’s say $100) for each new patient would be a value of $360,000, which is more than cost of subscribing to our service for 100 providers!

Beyond the Website
There’s much more to patient self-scheduling than just making calendars available online. Our customers have enabled it within patient portals, through third-party websites, and even supplemented email outreach campaigns enhanced with a “Schedule Now” button that allows patients to self-schedule. When you combine all these elements together the benefits grow exponentially.

To learn more about the impact of patient self-scheduling, download our free guide, Redefining Patient Access.

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Topics: Patient Self-Scheduling, Online Scheduling, Self-service, Consumerism, Patient Experience, Patient Access

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