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May 4, 2022

Trends & Metrics to Monitor Patient Self-Scheduling

Mend

What is a medical practice’s worst nightmare? A full appointment book with an empty waiting room. The best way to avoid this scenario is to allow patients to book and cancel their own appointments online.

Here’s a scary fact; one in four scheduled medical visits end up as no-shows. Missed visits don’t just damage patient health. They lead to lost revenue.

Most common appointment change reasons graphic. 64% are conflicts, 9.5% personal reason, and several others listed.

The solution to this is to do what other industries do. Allow patients to schedule their appointments. Whether it’s booking flights or making dinner plans, customers prefer turning to their personal smartphones to take charge.

Customers enjoy the ease and speed of self-scheduling. Better yet, they do not have to navigate telephone menus or become frustrated by dropped calls.

Health systems would do well to follow the lead of every business that provides customer service. Make self-scheduling of appointments an industry standard. The task is not as challenging as it may sound.

What is Patient self-Scheduling?

Women on device scheduling a virtual appointment.

Years ago, if you asked office managers how they reduced no-shows, the answer was the same. Overbook and send telephone reminders. This creates chaotic provider schedules. And telephone patient reminders are time-consuming. These strategies are ineffective and leave patients unhappy.

The best way for health teams to increase the number of visits is simple. Put patients in charge of scheduling their own appointments. Patient self-scheduling can lead to:

  • fewer missed chances for offering care: patient self-scheduling is available around the clock
  • better health outcomes: missed appointments cause delays in needed care
  • better reviews: delight patients by putting them in control of booking their visit
  • higher satisfaction for both patients and staff: time is not wasted making phone calls and waiting on hold
Patient self-scheduling adoption points. 34% of all appointments on Mend were self-scheduled in 2021. 5% no-show rate for self-scheduled appointments.

Before the internet, you had to phone several airlines to get the best price to book a flight. Or hire a travel agent. The process was tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating. It often left you wondering if you had made the best choice. Now, travelers routinely book their flights with ease. No one would want to go back to the old way of doing things.

Until recently, most health care teams relied on an archaic approach to scheduling appointments.  Phone calls to book an appointment were often the first contact patients had with a practice. Long hold times and dropped calls hurt first impressions. Patients were frustrated and left with a feeling of helplessness. Is it any wonder they resisted calling back to reschedule or cancel?

Patient self-scheduling eliminates the qualms of booking. It is faster and more convenient. It empowers patients to take a more active part in their health choices. By offering more options in a visual format, online scheduling helps patients make better choices. But patient self-scheduling software can do a whole lot more for your team.

The Importance of Timeliness of Care

Long wait times harm patient satisfaction. Even worse, delays in health services lead to poor outcomes. That is why the Institute of Medicine listed timeliness as one of the six aims of healthcare quality. Waiting does not just take an emotional toll on the patient as well as the provider; it can result in medical harm.

Prompt communication between patients and providers is crucial in managing chronic diseases. It is important for the diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses. Patient self-scheduling is an effective way to ensure quick access to care. Timely treatment reduces risks of adverse events caused by delays and barriers to care.

What Are the Benefits of Patient Online Scheduling?

Patient self-scheduling benefits graphic listing 5 different benefits for patients.

Health teams rely on technology to improve efficiency and maximize revenue. Patient self-scheduling is an essential part of any software package. 

It boosts patient volume by:

  • Attracting new patients
  • Removing barriers to booking
  • Reducing no-shows
  • Promoting follow-up visits
  • Creating positive reviews

It improves the quality of care by:

  • Prioritizing at-risk patients
  • Matching patients with the right service provider for their needs
  • Offering the choice of Telehealth vs In-Person
  • Removing barriers to care

It improves office workflow by

  • Reducing provider downtimes due to schedule gaps and missed appointments
  • Getting rid of overbooking
  • Assigning staff to duties that create income

It improves patient satisfaction by:

  • Offering a fast, streamlined booking experience
  • Shortening wait times
  • Engaging patients in their care
  • Allowing patients to book appointments 24/7/365
  • Making it easy to reschedule and modify
  • Patients want self-scheduling. 89% of patients reported they would choose their health provider based on options like texting, self-scheduling, and rescheduling
  • Increasing access to care in a way that conforms to patients’ changing ideas of the patient-provider relationship
  • Giving patients more control over health decisions

It improves a company’s bottom line by:

  • Increasing patient volume
  • Reducing the overhead of costly call centers
  • Creating  more reimbursable visits

What are the Self-Scheduling Capabilities with Mend?

Mend provides all the essential features of a self-scheduling system.

Mend is a telehealth and patient engagement platform that helps practices care for more patients. Mend provides a full-service portal that helps practices plan an entire patient journey. Patient self-scheduling tracks this process from booking to post-visit contact. Self-scheduling with Mend reduces no-shows. 70% of Mend Enterprise teams average singledigit no-shows. Some achieve rates as low as 2%.

Mend includes a unique feature: an Attendance Predictor. It is an AI machine learning tool that allows you to predict no-shows and cancellations with an accuracy of up to 99%.

The Mend self-scheduling journey looks like this:

  1. Mend lets patients schedule visits from their home computer or their smartphone 24/7/365. This turns any practice into an e-commerce site.
  2. Mend matches patients with the right provider for the right visit type. Nothing is more frustrating than discovering that someone mistakenly booked an appointment with the wrong specialist or with an out-of-network provider.
  3. The custom patient scheduling feature offers the choice of Telehealth encounters. This further reduces wait times and improves access to care. A visit can be booked sooner and completed within a matter of minutes without the hassles of driving to an office.
  4. With Mend’s unique, user-friendly web page, rescheduling a visit is simple. Ease of use on the patient’s side keeps a provider’s schedule constantly updated.

Post-visit care includes:

  • booking follow-up visits, providing further opportunities to provide care
  • expediting payment, improving health systems’ cash-flow
  • completion of reviews, boosting a provider’s online presence
  • post-visit surveys, which help teams find opportunities for improvement

Using a single platform ties self-scheduling to Telehealth, and provider access to EHR. And third-party payments are processed in a 100% secure and HIPAA compliant environment.

Mend provides key metrics to allow organizations to monitor their progress and see their practices grow.

The best patient self-scheduling systems integrate seamlessly with Patient Management Systems. Booking a visit should tie in seamlessly with telehealth, billing, boosting a practice’s online presence, and other administrative tasks.

Barriers to Adoption

Many industries have been much quicker than the health care sector at adopting user-friendly customer portals. The self-service approach is proven to engage customers. It also provides timely service for companies with limited resources. Outside of healthcare, self-scheduling is an industry standard.

The delay in adopting patient self-scheduling in health care is an overall trend of the sector’s reluctance to embrace health IT. There are several barriers to adoption:

  • Resistance to change: adopting a new system takes an expenditure of energy. Staying with the status quo is easier even when things aren’t working optimally.
  • An absence of trust, spurred by fear of the unknown.
  • Resistance to changing established workflows: habits provide comfort and are hard to break.
  • Perceived upfront and ongoing costs: investments can be seen as additional expenses while it is easy to dismiss ongoing expenditures as the cost of doing business.

Barriers to adopting patient self-scheduling can be addressed by:

  • Engaging providers during the implementation process
  • Seeking provider input and feedback
  • Educating staff on the new systems
  • Training of all users
  • Selecting a user-friendly platform
  • Partnering with a software provider with a proven track record and excellent customer support

The transition to a patient self-scheduling system is best accomplished by keeping staff well-informed and allowing them to provide feedback and input throughout the process. Reasons for reluctance to change must be understood and addressed in a sensitive manner. Once the benefits of self-scheduling are understood, staff become invariably receptive to changing their old workflows.

Patient self-scheduling KPIs include appointment change reasons, self-scheduling adoption and change rate.

Put Patient Self-Scheduling to Work for You

More than ever, health systems face many pressures. The challenge is to provide compassionate care and enhance satisfaction while maximizing the bottom line. Accessibility and equity are keys to quality care. Health care companies must learn to function with the speed of e-commerce sites.

Patient self-scheduling is a crucial piece of a complete patient engagement portal. An integrated software solution such as Mend provides an edge. Allowing patients to book their appointments can lead to better timeliness of care and improved health outcomes. And it improves the efficiency of other administrative hassles.  With the metrics Mend offers, you can see your business grow in real-time.

Schedule a demo to see how Mend can boost your team’s performance.

FAQs

What is patient self-scheduling?

Patient self-scheduling is state-of-the-art software. It allows patients to book, reschedule, and cancel appointments online using home computers or hand-held devices such as smartphones. But it can do much more for a medical practice. The best platforms improve the timeliness and quality of care, boost revenue, and help practices grow.

What percentage of consumers want to book or change their healthcare appointments online?

77% of patients surveyed want online self-scheduling. 89% will choose their healthcare organization based on features like texting and self-scheduling. In short, patients will soon expect all practices to allow them to book their appointments online. Patient self-scheduling is a service medical practices can no longer do without.

What are the most common reasons to change healthcare appointments?

The top four reasons patients change appointments are schedule conflicts, personal reasons, transportation issues, and concerns over cost. For many patients, notifying an office of a conflict is too great a hassle. But appointments that are not canceled or rescheduled wreak havoc with providers’ workdays. Online platforms remove the hassle of rescheduling visits and allow practices to open up appointment slots for those patients who need immediate care.

How can you improve scheduling?

Make patient self-scheduling the standard for your team. Self-scheduling empowers patients and lets them take a more active role in their care. State-of-the-art software helps patients make better and more satisfying choices. Patients are happiest when they link with the right provider in the right visit type. Transitioning to patient self-scheduling is not as daunting as it may seem. The benefits to practices of all sizes are well worth the investment.

Written by

Mend

Mend is the Leading Telemedicine & Patient Engagement Platform. Cut down no-show rates and see more patients.

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