Why You Need Online Appointment Scheduling

February 24, 2017

How do patients view online medical appointment scheduling and the doctors who offer it?

How Important Is It To Consumers?

hand using smartphone

Consumers have come to expect online scheduling when making travel arrangements, dinner reservations, and auto service appointments. Now they have turned their attention to doctor’s appointments. New research from STAX, commissioned by Healthgrades, highlights this key healthcare trend.

Fully 43% of consumers have already booked a doctor’s appointment online. Physicians who offer online scheduling differentiate themselves, as 80% of consumers will choose them over a competitor who doesn’t. Consumers actually prefer a physician who has online scheduling to one with more availability by an over 4-to-1 margin, 82% to 18%. In fact, nearly a third of consumers view this physician scarcity as an indicator of higher quality care, and the availability of online scheduling to be a key aspect of physician appeal. They are more likely to make an appointment with a doctor who offers it.

Specifically, consumers want both the ability to schedule an appointment online, and the ability to view provider availability. These two elements are as important as patient satisfaction ratings in driving consumer choice. In fact, consumers care far more about online scheduling (67%) than about seeing a physician nearby (32%). They are more likely to prefer online scheduling for primary versus specialist care.

Who Wants It Most?

Those consumers who use online medical scheduling tend to be younger, better educated, and schedule more appointments for themselves and others. They care about the always-on convenience and rapid transactional aspects of scheduling appointments online. You can enhance this value by providing smart reminders via email and text to keep each appointment top of mind. Using smart reminders can also reduce no-show rates by 25%, as it keeps online schedulers engaged until the moment of their doctor’s appointment.

Speeding the Connection between Patients and Their Doctors

In the mobile digital economy, consumers value convenience. That’s why leading physician search websites now offer consumers the ability to search for a doctor by appointment availability. According to Accenture research, almost two thirds of health systems will offer online self-scheduling for patient medical appointments by the end of 2019.

Don’t miss out on potential new patients: the Accenture study also noted that 42% of patients have already tried to book their appointments online, but their doctors didn’t offer that option.

Google It

Of course, consumers’ first instinct when researching new doctors is to Google them. So your scheduling solution should also support integration with Google, enabling consumers to access real-time physician scheduling directly from their Google search results.

Meet consumers with immediately actionable appointment availability when and where they are searching for health information. Move it online.

Read more about our new online patient scheduling study here.

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