Providing patients with online appointment scheduling can deliver significant cost benefits and improve operational efficiencies for healthcare organizations. It also has the potential to improve customer satisfaction, as patients value tools that allow them to streamline different aspects of their daily lives. Despite this, few health organizations currently provide online scheduling – but this could changing and fast.
According to a report released by healthcare consulting firm Accenture, 66 percent of health systems will offer online doctor appointment scheduling by 2019, and it will be used by nearly 65 percent of patients. This is expected to save the healthcare industry about $3.2 billion annually.
The need to remain competitive in the highly volatile healthcare market is one reason that online scheduling is set to take off. Not only do patients want online scheduling, but the addition of this type of value-added service is enough to significantly differentiate a hospital or practice from its competitors.
Consider, for example, that scheduling a doctor’s appointment online takes about one minute versus eight minutes over the phone. Taking this into account, it makes sense that more than 63 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 prefer self-scheduling. Consumers already use online tools to perform all types of tasks more efficiently (e.g. online banking and purchases), and they want this same convenience when it comes to healthcare.
The Patient Portal’s Role in Online Scheduling
Approximately 40 percent of the top 100 health systems in the U.S. currently offer some type of online doctor appointment scheduling. As organizations adopt better technologies that make self-scheduling easier, both for patients and staff, this number will continue to grow. Patient portals offer the tools necessary to simplify the scheduling process – however, not all portals provide the same advanced capabilities.
Bridge Patient Portal organizes providers’ appointments on a user-friendly platform that allows patients to select their doctor and preferred visit time from a list of available appointment slots. Providers can establish the types of appointments that patients are allowed to schedule, and they can even prompt patients to fill out Intake and Health Risk Assessment forms online to save time. Multiple setup configurations are available so that organizations can choose what happens once a patient appointment request is received.