While we’re all aware that healthcare is a bit behind other industries on consumer engagement, we can’t understate that our objectives and complexities far exceed airfare and fine dining. Even still, the voice of the healthcare consumer is strengthening and it's changing the conversation about healthcare and how it's delivered. As patients take a more active role in their care and that of their relatives, they are spending more time online —and they expect their interactions to be more convenient, accessible, and digital.
Meanwhile, while a strong health system brand may have been enough to attract patients in the past, patient loyalty is becoming harder to retain in an increasingly competitive and digital landscape. To remain competitive today, health systems need to invest in initiatives that differentiate the patient experience—in particular, digital interactions that make access more convenient. Here are 3 reasons why your health system needs online scheduling:
Brand Isn’t Enough
A health system’s brand matters to consumers: in fact, they rank it among the top four most important criteria when selecting a provider.1 The third most important criteria? Appointment availability. While a strong brand identity may initially attract a patient to a health system, a frustrating scheduling experience, or lack of access to timely appointments, may turn them away. In fact, 77% of consumers think the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important, according to an Accenture Study.2 Adopting online scheduling will not only be critical to meeting consumer expectations, but also to engaging them long-term.
It Takes Multiple Touchpoints
Scheduling an appointment isn’t always easy, and often times, it takes multiple interactions with a health system for a patient to book an appointment–a recent study found that 82% of call centers agents could not schedule an appointment for the patient in that first phone interaction.3 In the era of healthcare consumerism, health systems will need to make the process frictionless and convenient to stay competitive. As the number of patients looking for online scheduling increases, being able to convert patient demand on the first interaction will be critical to increasing new patient volume and generating revenue.
Patient Loyalty is Up for Grabs
While ⅔ of patients still prefer to call in order to book an appointment, the number of patients looking to book online is rising. Where is the rising demand? Millennials–40% prefer to book online.4 These “digital nativists” grew up surrounded by technology, and that’s how many of them expect to make their healthcare decision. As this generation ages and takes care of aging parents and young children, capturing their demand by offering online scheduling will be key to maintaining their loyalty: 63% millennials interested in online scheduling said they would switch providers for the ability to book online.
Self-service scheduling can help health systems fill same-day appointments, allow patients to book even when the office isn’t open, and reduce burdens on office staff. Furthermore, Accenture estimates self-scheduling could deliver a competitive edge of $3.2 billion.5 And while online scheduling should only be part of a health system’s patient experience strategy–online scheduling capabilities will not compensate for a poor call center experience, an inaccurate referral, or an outdated provider directory. To meet consumers’ expectations long term, health systems will need to take a holistic approach to improving the patient experience.
To learn more about best-practices for improving the patient experience and to exchange access strategies with other health system leaders, attend our annual conference on patient access, ATLAS.
1 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2017.
2 Accenture. Patient Engagement: Digital self-scheduling set to explode in healthcare over the next five years, 2016.
3 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2017.
4 Kyruus, Inc. Patient Access Journey Report, 2017.
5 Accenture. Patient Engagement: Digital self-scheduling set to explode in healthcare over the next five years, 2016.