More than 2/3 of consumers would choose a provider based on the ability to book appointments online.1 To meet this growing demand, health systems are searching for ways to offer patients the same level of convenience and choice they’ve grown accustomed to when booking appointments online in other industries.
However, online scheduling is far more complex than making a reservation on OpenTable. Clinical need, whether the patient has been seen by the provider before, and complex scheduling protocols prevent many health systems from adopting online scheduling at scale. However, as demand for accessible scheduling increases, leading health systems are partnering with providers to take the complexity out of online scheduling and ensuring that consumers can book some appointments--not all--online with ease. As your health system looks to take the complexity out of online scheduling to offer consumers the modern booking experience, here are 3 key considerations:
Begin With the Provider Search Experience
Unsurprisingly, a provider’s clinical expertise matters greatly to consumers–87% of consumers ranked it as extremely or very important when selecting a provider.2 Before consumers can find the right appointment, they need to find the right provider. To lay the foundation for your online scheduling initiative, start with the provider search experience. Give consumers the ability to search for care in a language they know, offering capabilities like lay synonyms for clinical keywords and autocomplete for keyword searches, and surface rich profiles to help consumers find the most clinically appropriate provider and feel confident about their choice.
Remember That Scheduling Isn’t ‘One Size Fits All’
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to looking for an appointment. In fact, over half of millennials have continued their provider search in order to find a sooner appointment.3 However, incorporating complicated scheduling rules and simplifying appointment types can make it difficult to surface availability online. When launching an online scheduling program, take a gradual approach and consider starting with the appointments that are easiest for consumers to self-serve (e.g. office visits for existing patients). This enables populations of patients to book online, and gives provider offices an opportunity to adjust to a new scheduling program. Furthermore, not all appointments will be appropriate to book online. Engage in good governance around the types of appointments you surface to consumers and incorporate providers in the decision process. As a result, your health system can improve the patient experience, as well as demand conversion.
Take Location and Consumer Convenience Into Consideration
Patient access is not only about the right provider at the right time, but also about the right location. A recent study found that 76% of consumers feel location is extremely or very important to them when selecting care. How can health systems respond to this trend? By ensuring consumers have access to accurate information about where a provider practices, especially if a provider practices at multiple locations. What’s more, it’s also important to highlight the services offered at each of these locations (e.g., parking details and imaging services) to help consumers make informed care decisions. In addition, health systems can surface walk-in and urgent care clinic appointments online to help distribute lower acuity care needs out of crowded provider schedules and into convenient walk-in locations nearby.Today’s consumers will continue to demand enhanced digital experiences and look for new ways to engage with healthcare, especially as their options for care increase. Health systems who focus their online scheduling program on making it easy for consumers to book an appointment online, ensuring that patients see the right providers and remove barriers to doing so, will be able to differentiate their health system and drive new patient growth.
To learn more about building a comprehensive online scheduling strategy and how to engage your providers in the process, download our step-by-step online scheduling guide.
1 Accenture. Today's Consumers Reveal the Future of Healthcare, 2019.
2 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2018.
3 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2018.
4 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2018.