How to Maximize Patient Usage / Adoption
Problem: Maximizing patient usage/adoption of online scheduling is important to help deliver maximum benefit.
Discussion: Every clinic is different, so there is no one perfect solution. We discuss below various strategies / approaches to adopt in combination.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
1. Add Links to Your Website Everywhere Your Phone Number Is
This is critical, as most patients, particularly early on, will not know that your clinic is offering online scheduling. Instead, when they visit your website, they will instead look for your phone number.
Adding a link to your booking page there, with text such as "You can now schedule online" or "Book your Appointment Online" will immediately drive adoption - clinics who have comprehensively adopted this approach have seen usage rates of 30%+ within the first week.
2. Mention Online Booking In Your Phone Tree / IVR / Voicemail / Hold Message
A significant proportion of calls related to scheduling, so this another key opportunity to advise patients that they can schedule online. Include language such as "Did you know you can now scheduling online with us, 24 / 7, by visiting our website at [URL]?" or "Please hold and our next available staff member with you. Alternatively, if calling to schedule an appointment, hang up, and go to our website at [URL] to book online!"
3. Add Signage to your Clinic
For established clinics where patients are used to booking by phone or on the way out, it's helpful to plant the seed in their mind that online booking is now an option. For example, signage could simply say: "Did you know you can now book online 24/7? Visit our website at [URL] the next time you need to schedule an appointment!"
Some common spots:
Your reception desk
A sign in the waiting room
Your waiting room TV
In exam rooms
4. Send Email Reminders for Appointments Booked By Phone or In Person
Many clinics have started to collect patient email addresses. If so, use our add-on email reminder service to send patients who booked appointments by phone or in person an email reminder.
In addition to reducing no shows and late cancellations, and ensuring patients come prepared and on-time, these emails can let patients know they can schedule online in the future.
This is particularly compelling because only appointments scheduled online can be cancelled / rescheduled 24/7, online, giving patients a great reason to go online in the future.
5. Stop Telling Patients to Book at Reception
Many clinicians have an established practice of telling patients to schedule on their way out. It’ll take a bit of habit changing, but advise your clinicians to change their phrasing instead, to let patients know they can book online at their own convenience.
This has the double benefit of reducing the number of appointments rescheduled as well; our experience is that the further in advance appointments are scheduled, the more likely they will be rescheduled!
Level of Difficulty: Medium
1. Limit Exceptions
One of the advantages of online scheduling is its egalitarian nature. All patients can access the same appointment time slots regardless of their relationship with the scheduling staff.
Setting policies and training staff to limit "making exceptions" is helpful to maximizing adoption. If patients feel not all available appointments can be viewed online, oftentimes patients will first review the online options, then call to see if there's a more convenient time.
2. Ensure There is Always Availability
Patients know that if they call, there will also be "some" availability, even if it's far in the future. If patients visit your online booking page and see no availability, they will oftentimes call anyways, thus reducing one of the benefits of online scheduling, and also reduce the odds that they visit your online booking page again in the future.
There's no one solution to ensuring this. Key steps to help include:
Level of Difficulty: Advanced
1. Deploy an In-Clinic Online Booking Kiosk
Having an in-clinic online booking kiosk can be helpful in that:
it enables patients to self-schedule on their way out if desired
it enables staff to be able to help instruct patients who might need a bit more assistance
We're putting together a more fulsome guide for how to create your own kiosk; reach out to your account manager if you want any advance!