With benefits like immediate online reviews and more efficient patient-practice communication, the Internet offers healthcare practices an excellent opportunity for obtaining patient feedback. However, many physicians are not well-versed in how to use the Internet to their advantage. While a substantial number of offices have switched to EHRs, many have yet to expand their EHRs’ focus on billing and legal documentation to expanding the overall patient experience. Concentrating EHRs on the patient experience is an excellent way to boost patient satisfaction and operational efficiency, as well as revenue.
Automated scheduling systems serve as another Internet-derived benefit, as they are cost-saving and more productive. Calling an office to schedule appointments is not time-efficient for either patients or office staff. Moving the process online allows patients to directly choose their preferred timeslot while reducing the amount of time spent by staff on the phone. It also allows patients to immediately view openings due to appointment cancellations. For practices without an online scheduling option, cancelled appointments often go unfilled, resulting in suboptimal physician scheduling and, in turn, reduced revenue. According to three Valhalla, NY-based healthcare professionals— Drew Franklin, physician practice manager; Jade L. Bedell, public health professional; and Adam E. Block, assistant professor of public health—physicians working 8-hour shifts with an unfilled appointment rate of 20% experience a productivity decrease of 16%. If this were a daily occurrence, a practice with potential $1 million revenue would see a decrease of $160,000, yet the practice’s costs would remain the same.
Automated scheduling systems are quick and simple. After answering a few brief questions regarding location, insurance, reason for visit, and physician reference, the online system immediately generates a list of open appointment times. This schedule can be accessed on any device, from a computer to a tablet to a smartphone. Some practices use automated scheduling system services from an outside provider, like Zocdoc, which allows patients to book appointments online with any participating physician. However, physicians interested in participating should take note of any added fees for new bookings.
According to Globe Newswire’s Reports and Data, the medical scheduling software market is slated to reach $612.5 million by 2026, as healthcare practices are increasingly seeing its revenue benefits. According to an article published in Healthcare Finance, one health system equates automated scheduling systems to a monthly time savings of approximately 27,000 hours, which correlates to an estimated savings of $500,000.