Healthcare practices across Australia come in all shapes and sizes – from the small boutique practices to the multi-location super clinics. What they all share is the need to attract new patients and look after existing patients. If a patient considers the booking process to be onerous, complex or inconvenient they are likely to look elsewhere for their treatment. That’s why online booking systems have become a cornerstone tool for a modern practice.
Yet sometimes practitioners or practice managers can be cautious about making the switch to an online booking system. Below we address the most common concerns we hear, to help clarify how online bookings can assist practices to attract and engage patients in the digital world.
“My practice is complex and we offer an array of appointment types and times. I don’t think online bookings will work for us”
Online booking systems are customisable for every practice. HealthEngine online booking solutions are highly adjustable and flexible. They work alongside, and enhance the capabilities of, your existing Practice Management Software (PMS).
“I’m concerned that patients who book online won’t show up”
The ‘Did Not Attend’ rate for online bookings is actually <1% – an industry leading percentage! We believe this is because a patient is less likely to miss an appointment that they selected themselves, than if they were to accept an appointment time offered by a receptionist.
“I want to speak to patients over the phone so I can triage them and ensure they are correctly booked in”
Patients who want to maintain personal contact will continue to telephone your practice.
Online bookings should complement, not replace, the existing booking method that your patients choose to use.
Patients are able to book online for the majority of other things in their life – such as cinemas, flights, accommodation and more. Why deny them the same convenience for healthcare appointments, especially if it is their preference?
There is also no reason why your practice cannot contact these patients to confirm the appointment and share practice information with them. Some practices have felt that because a patient has booked online that they can’t be contacted, but this only applies to a very small minority of bookings (for example, those who are unable to pick up the phone whilst at work).
“Many of my patients are older and won’t use the internet to make appointments”
A common misconception is that the older generation isn’t online.
Our booking data shows that 32% of all online bookings are made by patients aged 45 years and over.
Online bookings will also benefit patients with limited hearing and speech abilities, or who speak English as a second language. We regularly receive positive feedback from such patients who are grateful that their doctor or dentist is offering online bookings, as the internet provides an easier way for them to make appointments than over the phone.
Another consideration to be mindful of, is that many appointments made for elderly patients are done so by their children.
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“I’m concerned an online booking system will access sensitive patient information”
The privacy of your patients is of the utmost importance to HealthEngine. We do not capture or store any information other than what is provided as part of the booking. This information is then managed under the very highest security & privacy standards. Read more about how HealthEngine protects data.
“Our practice is doing well and we’re happy with our current systems and processes. We don’t need to change”
The mindset of patients towards accessing healthcare is changing – it’s becoming less loyalty based and more convenience driven. We recently surveyed users of HealthEngine and discovered the following:
- 9% left their regular practice because they didn’t offer online bookings
- 14% also found a more convenient appointment time online – with a new practice – than what was offered by their regular provider
By choosing to implement online bookings you not only give patients an alternative way of finding you, you’re also less likely to lose them to one of your competitors.
“Can I offer different appointment lengths?”
Absolutely. You can set different appointment lengths based on the types of appointments your practice offers. Your patients can then choose the type of appointment they are after when they book.
“What if I use a pen and paper diary to track my appointment bookings?”
Not a problem. As long as you have an internet connection and a computer, we can provide you with a simple solution that works alongside your existing diary.
“Where are the appointments published?”
You can choose where you would like the appointments to appear, whether it be on your website, your clinic Facebook page or your HealthEngine listing. You can even send a customised web link to patients when you send out marketing communications to your patient base.
“What if some of our practitioners want to use online bookings while others do not?”
That’s not a problem. You can select which practitioners use the online booking system – you’re in full control.
“How do I know when a patient has made an online booking?”
Customisable prompts are sent to you, to ensure you are aware of all online bookings made. Our platform notifies you the instant an online booking is made. You also receive a confirmation email. You even have the option to receive an SMS message.
“Do you send the patient a booking reminder?”
Yes. The patient receives an email confirmation as soon as they book their appointment. They also receive an email reminder before their scheduled appointment. With HealthEngine Appointment Reminders, you can also send an unlimited amount of SMS appointment reminders directly to all of your patients.
Want a free demo of our technology, or interested in getting more insight into how we can help you grow your practice? Get in touch today!