The benefits of offering an online booking system to your patients are well known: convenience, transparency, and choice of appointment times.
However, for some of your patients, the ability to book online provides a much more intrinsically valuable experience. This blog was inspired by impromptu heartfelt feedback we recently received from a Brisbane based patient (quoted below), combined with the disquieting revelation that almost 11% of Australians experience social phobia in their lifetime.
Phone phobia or anxiety about making calls
With the increasing prevalence of texting and online messaging over voice calling, it can seem that modern communication is centred on avoiding phone conversations. Yet for many Australians, preferring not to speak on the phone is a very real phobia.
Telephone phobia or telephobia, is a reluctance or fear of making or receiving phone calls. It can be related to a form of social anxiety, due to having to engage with an audience and the accompanying fear of coming across as imposing, being judged or made to seem foolish. It can even manifest into physical symptoms such as nausea, dry mouth or sweaty palms.
A telephone conversation lacks the visual social cues and gestures that encourage conversation, such as smiling or nodding. Without these elements to guide them, socially anxious people can worry about how they sound or come across.
For people grappling with phone phobia, calling their doctor’s surgery or local dental clinic to make an appointment can be a confronting and uncomfortable experience they would rather avoid. The option to instead be able to book online provides a welcome alternative – and also means they are less likely to delay an appointment.
The HealthEngine team recently received this message from Angela in Brisbane, who uses our online booking platform to make her healthcare appointments:
“I love your service. I have chronic health issues and have to see docs all the time, but have weird scheduling needs and an aversion to phones. You guys have made a difficult part of my life so much more manageable. Thank you.”
Such heartfelt feedback demonstrates how something as seemingly simple as adding an online booking tool to your practice site does make a real difference in the experiences of your patients.
Helping enable patients to make the first step
For people experiencing mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, taking the first step to booking in to see a doctor or psychologist can be a difficult one.
Having the ability to research providers online, and to make a booking over the internet instead of having to phone up and request an appointment, can help make the process a little less arduous for many patients.
Respecting patient privacy
Similarly, for patients who feel sensitive about an illness or condition, having to explain to a receptionist why they require a longer than normal appointment slot can be viewed as an intrusion to their privacy. To the point where they may settle for booking a standard appointment length just to avoid having to go into any clarifying detail with reception.
Instead, giving your patients the ability to select a double appointment slot online provides them with an increased sense of privacy. It also has the added benefit of helping you to better manage calendars and minimise the chance of doctors running behind in their schedules.
The prevalence of online bookings is on the rise. However, the reasons patients are opting to book online may be much more diverse than simple convenience. Considering the booking process through the eyes of your patients (or potential new ones) can go a long way towards enhancing the patient experience at your practice.
Find out how online bookings can benefit your patients today.