Evolution of Patient Scheduling

Are Healthcare Consumers Demanding More?

The answer is yes. They are expecting faster, easier and more efficient products and services with a wider variety of choices right at their fingertips. Why? Since the inception of the internet and major technology companies such as Amazon, consumers can have whatever they want, whenever they want it.

Technology and consumer demands have caused a dramatic shift in the healthcare industry. As a result, hospitals and health organizations have had to drastically improve their services by providing better and easier access to care for a wider range of patients. 

Specifically, healthcare consumers are demanding solutions that are easy to use, convenient and personalized – especially when it comes to patient scheduling.

Guess what?  90% of patients are willing to abandon their provider if digital solutions aren’t offered.* Organizations that don’t meet these demands will be days late and dollars short.

 

Scheduling Appointments Pre-Technology

In some ways, patient care was simpler before the commercialization of the phone. Patients either made face-to-face appointments with the doctor’s office, or the doctor made a house call.

 The old-fashion way may have been simpler but was it more efficient? The answer is no. Doctors would experience periods of extremely high demand, and patients had to wait for a longer period of time. Sometimes it meant that patients didn’t get the care they needed when they needed it.

 

Scheduling Appointments by Phone

Mass production of the phone launched healthcare providers into a new frontier. Emergency room and outpatient visits became more efficient. Patients called 911 for urgent care or made routine appointments by phone via a front-office administrative assistant. Although the introduction of patient scheduling via the phone was beneficial, there was still much room for improvement. When there was a high call volume, frustrated patients would have long wait times only to be told that there were no available appointments.

 

Automated Scheduling

Making appointments using IVR (Interactive Voice Response) was introduced in 2006. Patients began to schedule their visits using a telephone keypad. Making an appointment was simplified and faster, more convenient and precise. Other benefits such as important announcements about weather closings made life easier for both the practice and its patients, and IVR became a convenient tool for early adopters.

Patients are now demanding access to more digital and online tools, especially the millennial generation who expect to at least have the option for self-scheduling appointments online. For the less tech-savvy, IVR continues to be the preferred method for scheduling.

  

Online Appointment Request

Using a request system allows patients to “book” appointments through a website. Although the actual appointment has to be confirmed by an office staff member, and it’s not confirmed in real- time.

This is not a reliable method for scheduling since the front office staff must confirm or cancel appointments. Often the call-to-action texts mislead patients into believing they have already scheduled an appointment, and sometimes the patients have to re-do the process leaving them frustrated and ready to move on to the next easier solution.

 

Real-time 24/7 Online Scheduling

After online scheduling appointment requests, scheduling online in real-time was the next technological improvement. This revolutionized patient care by introducing different options for scheduling. Patients have the ability to choose a convenient time slot through either a website or patient portal.

Taking 100% of appointments online is a challenging task. Real-time online scheduling should mimic the current scheduling process, in a way that empowers patients to choose their most convenient time, yet it must comply with the organization’s scheduling logic, appointment time and place, while still giving providers control over their own schedule.

 

Patient Scheduling with Odoro

Now it’s time to open the digital front door through Odoro’s Digital Patient Access Platform, a powerful tool that will improve the patient experience by providing a streamlined platform for better patient access.

Odoro has created the key to better and more convenient patient scheduling by giving patients a way to reliably search, find and schedule care through the web, IVR, Chatbot or call-center, which are all supported by Odoro’s SchedLogic and ORG2 a centralized data management system. Odoro makes it easier for practices to acquire patients, retain them and improve the overall patient experience.

 

We’ll be covering this topic and more at the upcoming HCIC conference, November 4-6, in Orlando. If you want to see our Digital Patient Access Platform in action, come to booth #18, or schedule your meeting here.

About Dikla Ranen

Dikla Ranen is the co-founder and COO of Odoro – a leader in digital patient access solutions for health systems. Over the last 20 years, Dikla has held senior sales, business development and customer success roles in both the digital health and hi-tech sector. Working at the forefront of the changing digital patient access landscape for the past 10 years, she understands first-hand the challenges and issues facing health systems. To learn more about sector best-practices and how latest digital innovation strategies are being used to improve the patient experience, please message with Dikla on Linkedin.

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