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The healthcare industry is synonymous with change, and now more than ever, that change is being led by patients. With a growing shift toward healthcare consumerism, patient behavior is driving practices to adopt new internal processes and technology. And for practice managers, this means change management. 

Especially when navigating the adoption of new technology, the ability to anticipate potential obstacles before you begin implementation can be a gamechanger for your practice, your staff, and your patients before, during, and after go-live.

Here are three common hurdles — and solutions! — we walk through with clients every day as they implement online scheduling.

Hurdle 1: Updating your website

From the placement of your online scheduling widget to the wording of your calls to action, web design has a tremendous impact on converting website visitors to booked appointments. Whether you outsource your web design and maintenance or manage it in-house, there are three key elements to consider for your practice’s website.

  1. Start with the right people. Involve your web designer or point of contact early in the process to avoid preventable delays or technical issues. Your website is often patients’ first impression and getting it right matters.
  2. User experience is priority. In addition to strong branding and design, ensure that your web design follows best practices for an easy user experience. Test the entire booking process as if you are a patient, and avoid pitfalls like a long scroll to find a “book now” button and placing your scheduling widget on the same page as your contact form. 
  3. Give patients options. By presenting scheduling in multiple ways throughout your website, such as by location as well as including it on provider profiles, patients have more than one opportunity to schedule while they are shopping around on your website.

Hurdle 2: Training your team

Teams find security and productivity in routine. When a process changes and new software is added, especially to an existing office, adequate training helps staff adapt to new practice operations. Here are three ways we recommend leveraging your team for a smooth transition:

  1. Involve key users early on. Whose work is mostly likely to be affected? Who will be using the new software the most? Which staff are the most tech-savvy? These are all important questions to consider when identifying key users.
  2. Invite questions and concerns. No question is a bad question, and there is no bad time for a good question. Giving team members, especially key users, a voice in the early stages of the implementation process can curb potential obstacles and help avoid prolonging your project timeline.
  3. Testing 1-2-3. Before your practice officially goes live with online scheduling, test the new workflow from beginning to end with different teams and key users. Anticipate frequently asked questions, and ensure everyone knows how the new technology works with other processes and software.

Hurdle 3: Training your patients

It’s no mystery that patients are behaving like consumers — they’re busy and want every aspect of their lives to be as convenient as possible. Let patients know your practice is offering the ease of online scheduling, and then show them how to navigate your new process with these three practical steps:

  1. Marketing is key. Leverage all of your marketing resources to make patients aware of your practice’s new online scheduling service. Newsletters, social media, reception scripts, and recorded messages are a few key examples, and you can find more marketing best practices here
  2. Give friendly reminders. If patients don’t schedule their next visit before leaving the office, remind them that they can schedule online anytime and save themselves (and your front office) a phone call.
  3. Accessibility matters. For many practices already using online scheduling, tech-savvy millennial patients are the most likely to book online, but the reality is that your practice sees patients of all ages and comfort levels with technology. Ensuring your website is accessible and easy to use limits the possibility of alienating any patients.

Change management is a constant necessity in healthcare, and a clear implementation strategy that prioritizes your website, your team, and your patients makes all the difference as you work to improve patient experience and practice operations. If you’re ready to modernize your practice with online scheduling, our expert client success team is ready to guide you through each step.

Post by NextPatient
October 5, 2022