Patient Self-Scheduling is Redefining Patient Access: Here’s What You Need to Know

Article, Patient Self-Scheduling

Patient Self-Scheduling is here and getting a lot of attention. Digital scheduling is the new “front door” to your practice. Scheduling has often been a cumbersome process for both patient and staff, averaging 8 minutes per call to schedule an appointment over the phone. Our customers have been asking for a scheduling solution that will give their patients the self-service access they desire, will integrate with their current PM/EHR system, and automate the function of their waitlists. Today we’re delivering exactly that with our new Patient Self-Scheduling and waitlist product. Here are some things we learned in our research, from talking with our customers, testing, beta testing, and more testing:

Self-scheduling is a delighter now but will quickly become a patient expectation. Patients have gotten really good at defining what they want out of products and services. Patients are no longer satisfied paying for care that doesn’t offer the same self-service and convenience that airlines, restaurants, and Uber offer. They will be excited initially as medical groups start offering self-scheduling but it will quickly be something they expect from their healthcare providers. Getting ahead of the curve can pay off with improved patient satisfaction and word of mouth.

Your competitors are adopting self-scheduling. A recent Accenture report predicts that by the end of 2019, 100% of the top 100 health systems in the United States will be utilizing patient scheduling and 55% of all other health systems will be utilizing this solution. What does this mean for you? It means that when patients go searching for a new physician, they will be looking for the convenience of self-scheduling and if you are still forcing patients to endure your phone tree recording and hold time, you’ll quickly fall to the bottom of the list.

Your staff needs this as much as your patients do. Practice managers and medical group staff are the unsung heroes of your practice, continually adding to their workload without additional hands to help manage it all. As their responsibilities increase, they scramble to provide the same positive patient experience in your clinic while also tracking data, working on quality initiatives, and resolving day-to-day patient issues. Self-scheduling gives patients 24/7 access to your open appointments, takes only 2 minutes to complete, and frees your staff up to focus their resources on priorities that can’t be automated.

Your waitlist needs a facelift. 61% of practices are utilizing a waitlist of some kind to help reduce the time it takes to get an appointment and improve patient access. This is a worthy effort but it’s burdensome on staff, takes a lot of work to build initially, and requires heavy manual intervention to backfill last minute cancellations. Self-scheduling automates the waitlist and rolls through it in an ordered fashion to fill cancellations. This leaves your staff free to interact with the patients presently in your office and reduces non-billable time.

There are multiple options in the marketplace and it can be hard to determine which option is right for you. Self-scheduling is a big deal and we are excited to be bringing our customers a solution to problems that their patients and staff feel daily. Relatient isn’t the first to offer patient self-scheduling but we’re the first to include it as a part of a robust platform that helps practices engage patients across administrative, billing, and clinical tasks. Options are great but before you get too far into the process take some time to identify patient engagement solutions already in place, define what’s missing, and understand how it all fits together.

Best practice—the solution you select should:

  1. allow your patients to schedule appointments start to finish on a mobile device, without having to contact your office
  2. automate your waitlist
  3. integrate with your PM system
  4. be part of an overall patient-centered engagement solution

Patient self-scheduling has the capability to elevate your practice’s efficiency and provide your patients the modern day access they are looking for. It’s also a real game-changer for your staff, allowing them some margin to focus on complicated patient cases or initiatives that have been previously sidelined. We couldn’t be more excited for you, are you ready?

Spend less time on the phone, fill cancellations, and keep patients happy with Patient Self-Scheduling — it begins here.