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Having an online bookings system for your patients is a great way to improve accessibility and efficiency at your practice.

Your staff will spend less time on the phone, you’ll have less unfilled gaps, you’ll reduce no-shows, and your patients will love the convenience and transparency of being able to book available appointments online.

Prashiba Thavarajadeva, Practice Manager at Montague Farm Medical Centre, SA, has a few strategies to encourage patients to start booking online with your practice.

With online bookings your staff will spend less time on the phone, you’ll have less unfilled gaps, and you’ll reduce no-shows.

Use the contents of the HealthEngine Practice Merchandise pack

Lots of our patients have seen the posters up on the noticeboards/walls, the information flyers, appointment cards at reception and the sticker on the front door. It’s prompted them to book online the next time they need to come in.

Update your on-hold message, voicemail message, and open-closed sign with information on how to book online

We’ve recorded a message during our on-hold music and voicemail informing patients they can always book online, 24/7. It makes plenty of sense considering we get phone calls out of hours.

Use existing practice distribution material such as recall and reminder letters, appointment cards, newsletters, etc.

On the back of recall letters for immunisation and blood tests, we print information about new services at the practice. We have a notice letting our patients know that they can book online. We also staple HealthEngine information flyers and appointment cards to patient invoices. It’s working really well for us.

Get reception staff to tell patients about online bookings and how to download the app

Our front desk staff inform patients that if they don’t wish to make a follow-up appointment at that particular moment, they can always book their appointment online, even after hours. Staff also recommend downloading the HealthEngine app and walk them through how to select us as their preferred practice. They really appreciate this as they want the flexibility to consider when is a good time to return.

Promote online bookings on your practice website

We have our HealthEngine Online Booking system clearly displayed on our homepage, so when patients land on our page, they can immediately make a booking, without having to search throughout the site. The easier you can make the journey for patients, the better.

Incentivise your staff to get online bookings

If you operate more than one practice, run a competition between locations on who can get the most online bookings and provide staff with a prize as incentive. The gains you can make from the improved efficiency derived from some friendly competition easily outweighs the cost of the prize, which can be something as simple as a team lunch for the winning practice.

Prashiba Thavarajadeva is Practice Manager at Montague Farm Medical Centre in South Australia. He was recognised as SA Practice Manager of the Year 2012 by AAPM.

Montague Farm Medical Centre is the current RACGP SA General Practice of the Year.

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