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No matter how good you are at multitasking, there are still only 24 hours in a day and seven days per week. That means you must prioritize tasks, making tools that enable convenience even more important.

Convenience is not only preferred by consumers these days, it’s expected. The same is true for healthcare. Patients want instant access — ideally through a smartphone app or online source — to information that enlightens their decision-making.

As evidenced in the 2023 Care Access Benchmark Report from Kyruus, one of the most popular digital health tools patients want their provider to offer is online scheduling. More than 60% of consumers surveyed in the report say the availability of online appointment scheduling is extremely or very important when choosing a new provider, service, or location for care.

That number is even higher for younger generations. A whopping 75% of Millennials scheduled their most recent new provider or service appointment online, acting on their specific preference for booking care.

The Importance of Appointment Availability

Online scheduling is a deciding factor for many patients when choosing among competing medical groups. It’s not only a matter of convenience, though. Consumers are negatively impacted when they cannot find the right type of provider or when appointment availability is low.

Although 89% of consumers surveyed in the Kyruus Care Access Benchmark Report say appointment availability is extremely or very important when selecting care, roughly 34% of consumers who did not schedule their last appointment online reported that it was because the health system or medical group did not have the availability they needed. And, of patients who utilized a phone call to schedule an appointment with their provider, only 36% were confident they received an appointment with a provider who would meet their clinical needs.

Online Scheduling Perks for Providers

Medical groups and other healthcare providers offering patient self-scheduling don’t solely increase patient satisfaction and differentiate themselves from competitors. Researchers have identified multiple other advantages of automated patient self-scheduling, including:

  • Labor savings
  • Information transparency
  • Cost reduction
  • Cycle time
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient accountability
  • Patient information
  • Patient time savings
  • Physician punctuality
  • Patient loyalty
  • Patient attendance

What else is in it for hospitals, health systems, and medical groups? Other advantages of online scheduling consist of decreased administrative burden for staff, improved patient retention, more accurate patient-provider matching, enhanced staff productivity, and fewer appointment gaps. Then there’s the benefit of being able to better keep track of patient appointments across specialists and locations to simplify the management of patient information.

If you want evidence of these merits, we have it. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association highlighted how self-scheduling can reduce health systems’ labor costs, improve customer satisfaction, and decrease no-show rates.

Tips to Consider When Implementing Online Scheduling

Perhaps one of the biggest recommendations for medical groups and other healthcare providers implementing — or expanding — their online scheduling capabilities is to consider routing patients to advanced practice providers, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, for lower acuity care (i.e., flu shots) rather than a primary care physician. This not only improves capacity for the system but also opens availability for patients seeking care.

If you’re looking to improve patient access and scheduling across your medical group, schedule a meeting with us to learn more about our digital health solutions that enable seamless search, scheduling, and patient intake.