Patient Scheduling Software: Choosing the Best One For Practice
Have you ever thought about how useful medical appointments software is these days? Consider this: one unused schedule time slot costs a physician about $200. There is also a patient no-show rate of around 30% in the US.
This means that many booked consultations are not conducted because the patient decides not to come. They fail to notify the office in advance, and so their visit is not replaced quickly enough by another patient. An SCI Solutions report states that the cost of these missed visits is $150B per year in the US alone.
A recent study by the University of Utah determined that 39% of patients interviewed felt that one of the more critical aspects of healthcare was the. It’s also true that 43% of health providers are looking to invest in patient scheduling software.
However, a study cited in JAMA found more than one in three adults with urgent conditions reported that they were not able to schedule medical appointments when they most needed them. Researchers felt that such problems were often the result of “unplanned, irrational scheduling and resource allocation,” rather than a lack of resources.
It seems clear that the way how to schedule a doctor’s appointment has changed dramatically. New options have appeared, and you must be mindful of them if you are running a healthcare entity.
What is a Medical Appointment Schedule Software?
Medical scheduling software is software used by medical practitioners that allows patients to schedule appointments with them. It is used by hospitals, clinics, and private practices. A doctor appointment organizer is rapidly becoming necessary for all varieties of medical practitioners as well as one of the essential medical software features.
Types and Features of Medical Scheduling Software
Appointment Scheduler Calendar View for Doctors
If you want to schedule doctor appointment possibilities, then software with a calendar view for doctors is a must-have. The most popular platforms have these features:
- Calendar views you can access according to day, week, and month
- The schedule has color-coding for easy identification
- The appointment duration can be changed easily
- Doctors can double or triple-book a slot for special situations after showing an alert
- Doctors can set up shared appointments with other specialists
Here you can see as an example the patients scheduling software for doctors profiles we made for the Medrealtime telehealth platform. As in this case, the medical scheduling software was integrated into the doctor personal dashboard or hospital calendar and makes it really easy to see the list of today’s appointments, patients details, received income, and so on.
Appointment Scheduling from a Patient Portal
To schedule doctor appointments online, your practice should also have a patient portal. The most popular patient scheduling platforms have these features:
- Pre-appointment questionnaires and consent forms that help physicians understand the patient’s issues before their visit
- Appointment reminders as the date and time draw near
- Custom notifications the patient can set
- Appointment histories the doctor can peruse at their leisure
Below, as an example, you can see how our healthcare developers team build the doctor appointment scheduling functionality within patients’ profiles of the telemedicine app.
Standalone Doctor Appointment Apps
By this, is usually meant a standalone patient scheduling mobile app or web app that combines two aspects and is developed from scratch. The first is scheduling capabilities by patients for doctor appointments. The second is for doctors to schedule appointments for patients on their end. In other words, there are two modes, one for physicians and one for patients, to allow maximum access.
Such apps typically have the following features:
- Both doctors and patients can easily schedule appointments
- Reminders for both doctors and patients
- Notifications if the appointment changes
- Map integration so that the patient can find the clinic or practice if they’ve never been there before
- Other features like billing, claims management, EHR/EMR integrations can be additionally implemented with appropriate healthcare APIs.
Below, as an example, you can see the mentioned map feature integrated into the doctor’s profile. Hence the patient can see how to get to the hospital right from the app.
How Medical Scheduling Software Improves Healthcare
With intuitive medical scheduling software, patients and healthcare providers can leverage a medical scheduling program to improve efficiency. This reduces the healthcare provider workload. Here are some of the ways to book doctor appointments online and other popular digital options.
- Reduction of the patients’ no-shows as appointments can be confirmed with text or email reminders
Automated medical appointment reminders mean fewer no-shows. Appointment confirmations can be increased as well. Ultimately, more patients will fill their time slots, and money will be saved. The savings can then be quickly passed on to the patients, as practices will see more profit. You need an automated medical appointment book.
If you’re running a healthcare entity and choose automated appointment reminder software, be sure to find one with bidirectional functionality. This means that when you text patients, they can text you back. If you are sending a confirmation email for the appointment, use a two-way email so patients can respond.
The real-life use case of implementation of auto appointment and reminder systems can be the example of Riverside Medical Clinic in California. Within one month, they noticed a 33% reduction in patient absences. They also saw an increase in appointment confirmations to 94.5%.
- Automate responses to routine questions
Physician scheduling software is also beneficial thanks to that it is quite a time-saving solution. Your staff will have no need to respond to each patient's message. Just when choosing or building your doctor appointments scheduling software make sure it has a built-in advanced auto-responses feature. It is based on keyword actions and can send automated responses as “confirm,” “cancel,” and “reschedule.”
- Use data to identify opportunities and trends
The other use case might be using data from patient scheduling software to track appointment times, the length of each appointment’s arrival times, and additional essential metrics. Patient communication platforms can also include analytics that shows confirmation and no-show rates. From there, you can determine the ideal timing for sending messages.
Hence, healthcare providers can identify certain trends and reasons for patient-flow problems to reduce and improve communication with patients.
- Optimize medical call center operations
Medical appointment scheduling should also be all about options. There are patients who prefer to speak to a live operator rather than schedule doctor appointments via text messaging or online.
The call volume of the Santa Monica Orthopedic Group was reduced by 20% when they started using WELL. This allowed 85% of patients to reach a live operator for appointment scheduling. A medical appointment scheduler should give patients the option to reach out to their caregiver in whatever way makes them feel most comfortable.
- Use broadcast messages to reach patient groups
When a provider is sick or in the case of inclement weather, you can send a broadcast text message to all of the patients that have scheduled appointments that day. This saves your office staff a great deal of time that they otherwise would have to use making phone calls and rescheduling.
For hospitals, this prevents lost revenue as well. Rescheduling surgery is potentially extremely costly. In 2018, every hour of unused operating room time cost about $3,600.
- Use patient self-scheduling to reschedule appointments
20 to 30% of patients reschedule or cancel their appointments. Calling patients to reschedule creates administrative work. You can implement a patient self-scheduling system instead.
The best ones integrate with patient communication platforms. When a patient texts that they can’t make it, the software automatically suggests alternative times that are open.
- Use automated recalls for scheduling future patients
It is not ideal to schedule patients a year out from their annual screenings and physical exams. Most patients don’t know their schedules that far in advance. You can always send them a self-addressed appointment reminder card in the mail. However, technology makes that no longer necessary.
Instead, use recalls sent in the patient’s preferred medium. That might be emailing, by text, or phone. Ideally, the platform should integrate with your EMR. It can mark the recall as scheduled, closing the loop.
- Use a referral appointment system for patient scheduling
If you run a specialist office and receive a list of referrals, scheduling patients means that staff must call each patient individually. This is time-consuming.
Instead, you can use a referral system that sends all referred patients messages. The messages ask if they would like to schedule an appointment. This saves your staff time, as they have to follow up only with the patients who intend to complete the referral.
Medical Appointment Scheduling Software Solutions Overview
Lastly, let’s overview the most popular scheduler & reminder software for healthcare:
- Luma Health
Luma Health is a telehealth platform that enables you to maximize business results, automate patient communication, and modernize patient access. With it, you can increase referral conversions, reduce no-shows, and backfill more of your cancellations.
- NextGen Healthcare
NextGen Healthcare empowers the transformation of ambulatory care. They have integrated, comprehensive technology to support specialty and ambulatory practices of all sizes. They help in the areas of clinical care, financial management, and patient engagement.
Skedulo is all about mobile workforce management. They use a dedicated, cloud-based system that analyzes your diskless workforce and recommends ways to make your system more efficient. It can be useful in healthcare and several other industries as well.
- Practice Suite
This is another cloud-based healthcare platform. It serves as medical billing software, and you can also use it for practice management, scheduling, and as a patient portal. With it, you increase communication with your patients as you give them access to their medical records and many online services.
AdvancedMD is a medical office software. Several of its features can help you manage your practice, such as accurate reporting, billing, simple charting, and flexible scheduling options.
By now, you should understand how vital a medical scheduler is if you’re going to be running a thoroughly modernized practice. Whether you need hospital scheduling software, or you’re running a clinic, private practice, or another medical entity, you need to install a system without delay. You can save money, effort, and time when you do so. You also send a strong message to your patients that you fully embrace modern technology rather than shun it. If you need to integrate some of these medical scheduling platforms into the software for your practice, our skilled healthcare developers can help you do that smoothly. Otherwise, if you need a custom patient scheduling platform, we can also help you with medical software development from scratch or provide you with open-source scheduling software adapted to your needs.