Empower Your Practice
Journal for Practice Managers

Online booking is one of the major trends of the year

Journal of mHealth
September 5, 2019

Online booking

Patients now expect to choose and book an appointment with their preferred private doctor online, and they often hunt down as much information as they possibly can before they arrive at the clinic. Given the increasingly patient-centred care provided by most modern doctors, patients are more engaged with their own healthcare than ever before. Typically, they’ll only book an appointment with a private practitioner once they have done their homework online, reading independent reviews, checking CQC ratings, and so on.

Although online booking is arguably one of the major trends of the past year, fewer than 10% of clinics had a website with genuinely transparent booking options. Medesk changes this by simplifying the patient journey from cyberspace to your clinic with straightforward booking solutions which provide an ideal balance between flexibility for patients and workload management for you.

Read: How to Automate Your Paperwork in 5 Simple Steps

The Medesk online booking widget can be linked up to your practice website or even your social media pages, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Online booking lets your patients choose a convenient appointment slot without the need to call the clinic or make a request and then wait and see. What’s more, you can balance this openness with the addition of a Stripe prepayment module to mitigate the risk of no-shows.

Victoria, managing director of Clinic Aesthetic tells us all about how she uses Medesk’s online booking module in her medical practice. She goes on to explain why her patients book online, thus showing how the whole process serves to improve the patient experience.

How Did You Train Your Colleagues?

Learning how to use the online booking system was as quick and easy as could be. We received a link that we went and tested from the patient’s point of view before proceeding to check how our receptionists dealt with incoming bookings. We began to understand how to handle appointment-related tasks and did some role-play to practise. Before long, we were ready to go live and put a booking link on our actual website.

Read more: The Best Ways to Train Receptionists

As well as the website, we decided to add this link to our social media accounts, starting with Facebook and Instagram. We encouraged our clinical staff to do the same to boost their own professional online presence.

Why Is It Important to Allow Your Patients to Book Online?

Because people love it. When they spend all day communicating verbally with their colleagues, family and friends, making a call to the doctor is the last thing they want to do. It involves staying on the phone when you’re already tired while you wait to talk to someone. It just makes sense to book online; it’s quicker and easier.

Our patients tend to be from high-income groups, working long hours and thus spending a lot of time speaking to others. Online booking is the best possible solution as it saves time and lets our patients avoid a call they don’t really want to have to make.

Given their busy schedules, we initially felt that totally opening up our calendar to our patients would mean that we would end up with an increase in no-shows. However, since we also implemented the Stripe payment system as part of the booking process, we were able to reduce this risk and cover our overheads even in the case of a no-show.

How Does Online Booking Work in Your Clinic?

I’m no longer worried about speaking to a patient and then suddenly having to check the schedule to see which of my colleagues is working and when. All I need to do is tell the patient to book online and they can choose a time and date at their own leisure. It has made my workday so much simpler and improved the patient experience all in one go.

Booking requests land in the Tasks section immediately so our receptionists can confirm appointments and get in touch with patients if necessary. The main thing is to make sure you can answer all these late-night and early-morning requests on time as the quicker you respond, the better you engage your patient and the more likely they are to keep coming to your practice.

I pay close attention to all the appointment booking statistics to make sure that everything is running smoothly and improving over time. Although we can’t necessarily solve all the problems that arise, it is crucial that we are able to give our patients as much choice when it comes to appointments as possible.

We make sure that we balance this flexibility for patients with a sufficient degree of control for ourselves too. I have found it useful to split each doctor’s daily schedule into halves, one being totally open to patients and the other being completely under the control of our reception team.

How Do Your Patients Benefit?

At the moment, we’re actively encouraging our clinical team to make sure their LinkedIn profiles are complete. Patients want to know as much as they can about their doctors, and healthcare providers without an online presence are simply left unable to compete with their peers.

It’s particularly effective to make special buttons for booking links, and this approach has led to us attracting patients from other parts of the country and even from overseas. By using the Patient Portal, our patients can request images, excerpts from their medical history, test results, as well as a call back from one of our team if they need any booking advice.

With our recent introduction of Stripe, most of our patients have accepted the idea of paying an online deposit before their booking is confirmed, and quite a few were pleased that they could pay half now and half later.

How Does Your Practice Benefit?

We receive a weekly average of 30 booking requests via our website, and this is even without having spent much time promoting it. Plus, adding the Stripe integration to an already useful booking platform has enabled us to make sure we don’t lose out completely from a financial perspective when patients do not attend their appointments.

Our next task is to update our site and make it good enough to help us sustainably grow our patient list. To do so, it’s vital that we produce useful online content that will be noticed by internet search engines and our patients alike.

Discover how Medesk helps your patients to book appointments online 24/7 and cuts down on no-shows with Stripe prepayments.

Source: The Journal of mHealth

Read also: Delivering the Benefits of Digital Health

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