Meet Patients Where They Are with Online Scheduling

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Meet Patients Where They Are with Online Scheduling

Mar 16, 2021

Technology controls much of what you do. Time and timing is among them. That’s what makes online scheduling capability a significant tech-add for your dental practice or DSO.

Everyone’s busy. That’s not just a confession, it’s a reality.

And the clincher is that most of your patient’s minds slow down enough during their off-hours. That means they remember to do many of those tasks they’ve postponed – like scheduling their next dental appointment or following up on a recommended treatment.

But, that’s when your practice is closed! And who wants to leave a voicemail?

Are you avoiding or accepting the need for immediacy?

Back to the busyness mantra. Your patients are among the thousands (if not millions) who are trying to keep a dozen plates spinning at once.

Home, work, family schedules, and more increase the length of their to-do list. Then they’re prompted to make a healthcare decision like scheduling theirs or a family member’s dental appointment.

This is where immediacy is the norm!

In today’s digital environment they (like you) are accustomed to reaching for their smartphone or device, accessing an app, or quickly logging into a website. Purchases and service access is on-demand.

Is your dental practice or dental organization part of the on-demand culture?

It’s time to ride-the-wave of immediate digital access

Online scheduling is like fresh air to the time-crunched. The ability to book appointments in the moment, when it comes to mind is a premium service most are becoming comfortable with.

According to Healthgrades, “…organizations with online scheduling options see a 24% increase in call volume.” They also commented on a 2017 Accenture report that predicted around 40% of the top 100 largest healthcare systems would allow patients to schedule appointments online, in 2019.

Accenture also added to the report stating,

“…77% of patients said that the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is important in their choice of a healthcare provider.”

Online scheduling data via RevenueWell continues to plot an upward trend with related comparisons:

  • “70% of respondents prefer to book an appointment online
  • 20% would rather book an appointment over the phone
  • 60% of respondents pointed out inconvenience when booking by phone
  • 50% of respondents prefer to reschedule or cancel an appointment online”

Online scheduling is a game-changer and there are key reasons you should offer it

1-Patients prefer it

That’s bottom line. The research (as noted above) reveals that from 59 to 70 percent and more of patients want to self-schedule.

That number will likely increase. Again, we live in a digitally savvy world that defaults to clickable decision-making access.

You want to be in that space!

2-Your schedule can stay more consistent

According to SolutionReach, 26% select appointments for the same or following day when they have an option for online scheduling.

Think about it in the context of convenience and availability. Would they have made the same effort in the moment if a phone call was the only option?

Open schedule blocks provide you opportunities. But they are no guarantee of valuable production, right?

And speaking of open schedule blocks. What about those appointment blocks that come open because of a no-show?

Online scheduling somehow creates better appointment urgency. There’s a lower potential for patients to postpone without notice when a provider has an online booking option.

Digital accessibility could have something to do with patients honoring their commitment. Or following through with rescheduling the moment they cancel.



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Either way, self-scheduling can help improve your schedule consistency.

3-In-the-moment, 24/7 access to care decisions

Unfortunately, your open hours do not always match a person’s thoughts about dental care. Sure, they can make an after-hours phone call but an awaiting answering service or voicemail communication reduces the appeal.

A higher percentage of appointments could be scheduled outside of your office hours – if the online scheduling option were available.

That produces:

  • Perceived flexibility and transparency related to your services. Patients tend to feel more in control of their care decisions with online accessibility.
  • Less workload on your front-desk team returning calls from voicemails or fielding answering service messages.

Speaking of workload…

4-Improved team workflow efficiency and productivity

Online patient scheduling allows the patients to share part of the daily workload. Again, your patients somewhat appreciate taking responsibility for their care rather being dependent on your team or as your schedule allows.

Consider the time one phone call (by a team member) can take. Not to mention (as earlier noted) the time required by messaging follow-up.

Compare those scenarios with a patient being able to click-through your online appointment portal on their time. They see the available schedule blocks, they can take advantage of an option, easily and securely add any necessary information, and/or attach a message for your team if they have a question.

5-You’ll stay relevant and competitive as a care provider

Accenture had predicted that as of 2019, 66% of practices would be providing online scheduling. They added that 64% of patients would make appointments online.

Those percentages set the pace for adapting as a practice and appealing to patient preference.

Your relevance to what patients prefer also promotes greater honesty and openness about their care concerns and decisions. A secure, online portal could help them avoid the potential embarrassment or uncomfortability of discussing those by phone.

The more you can do to enhance patient engagement the better

Integrate your online scheduling platform with your dental dashboard and general practice management system. This helps eliminate having to manage another service on top of your foundational system.

Check out the following resources to gain insight into how you can use them effectively:

Improve Your Dental Front-Office Productivity By Maximizing Your Team and Technology

3 Tips on Optimizing your Dental Practice Operations with Software Solutions

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The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on-track during your morning huddles and overall practice or DSO goals.

Jarvis…

  • Integrates seamlessly with your chosen practice management software/platform
  • Presents the metrics you want and need in an easy-to-view dental dashboard that reduces data complexity for growing dental practices, dental groups, and DSOs

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!

Or…

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