If keeping the lights on is a priority for your practice than you probably spend a lot of time trying to keep your appointment schedule full. Unfortunately, in many offices, the only way patients can schedule an appointment is by calling in and talking to a staff member. This takes a lot of time for both your practice and your patients. And, of course, since many patients work, it can also be inconvenient. Giving them the option to schedule their appointments online at any time of day, without having to call solves both those problems.
On average, it takes just over eight minutes on the phone to schedule an appointment. These eight minutes usually consist of a staff member getting general patient information and the purpose of the appointment, and then reading off a list of open appointment times. All while the patient is trying to match open appointment times with their own free time. This can be trickier than it seems, since most people now keep their calendars on their phones, making it difficult to consult their calendar and talk to you at the same time. You’ve probably heard it more than once, “Hold on and let me see if I can get my calendar up. I’ll call back if we get disconnected.” Uggg. This makes the potential of a patient double-booking themselves or saying they have to check and call back pretty high. If a patient realizes they are overbooked before the appointment, they can call back and reschedule (another eight minutes on the phone) or if they don’t, they might just miss their appointment.
Giving your patients the option to schedule their appointments online saves time for everybody. Online, patients can choose the type of appointment they need, and then see all of the available time slots. They can easily check the open times with their calendar, and pick the one they want. And since they won’t also be using their phone for a call, they can put the appointment in their calendar right then, reducing the chances of scheduling something else at that time or forgetting about their appointment. When an appointment is booked online, your practice receives a notification, so you can double check that the patient chose the right appointment type and then confirm the appointment. The eight-minute scheduling process can be drastically reduced to about 30 seconds for both the patient and your practice. Those extra seven and a half minutes can be used to do something productive for your practice like building relationships with the patients in your office.
Not only does online scheduling take less time than phone calls, it’s also more convenient. Your office isn’t open 24 hours a day, so in order for your patients to reach you, they have to call during your business hours. It can be hard to find time for a lengthy phone conversation in the middle of the day. Between meetings, other appointments, or carpooling kids to different activities, it isn’t always easy to find time to make the call. Online scheduling can be available at any time of the day, not just your normal business hours. So whenever your patient is free, they can visit your website and schedule an appointment.
It’s more convenient for your practice as well. When the phone rings at your practice, someone has to stop whatever they are doing to answer it. With online scheduling, your practice gets a notification that an appointment has been scheduled, and your staff can review and confirm the appointment when they have time. This means fewer interruptions for the patients in your office, giving them a better patient experience.
Learn more about the benefits of online scheduling here.