Skip to main content

Empowering patients to self-schedule would be a nightmare for your practice. Your schedule is too complicated and there's no way it would work given how complicated your scheduling is, right? Wrong. 

Countless medical practices' are proving that it can be done, but it has to be done right or it could be a disaster. Fortunately, there is a proven process to implementing online scheduling that will help you acquire new patients, delight existing ones, eliminate busy-work for your front office staff, and keep your practice's schedule full.

🚧 Step 1: Set up technical guardrails

Make sure your online scheduling solution can filter appointment search-results to match provider-specific criteria. These are fields on your website that a patient will select, which will then show the appropriate provider(s). Common provider filters are:

  • Insurance plan
  • Appointment types
    • New patient
    • Existing patient
    • Visit reason
  • Patient demographics (e.g., age, gender, etc.)

Prevent appointments from being booked less than 24 - 48 hours in advance (see why in Step 2).

Collect the right level of information about a patient based on the appointment type.  For example, you may require a new patient to input information like referring provider, address, full insurance information, credit card on file, etc.  Whereas, for an existing patient, you just need their visit reason and basic demographics.

Pro Tip: Start your “online appointment menu” with simple, routine visit types, and then expand from there.

🧐 Step 2: Institute an operating procedure to review online appointments

When you first get started, get notified of each and every appointment booked by patients online. Review the appointment and double check all the information is correct to ensure there are no issues with the patient seeing the provider that was booked. 

This will help you catch any edge cases, such as a provider not accepting the patient's particular insurance plan, and you can adjust your rules in Step 1 to prevent future instances. Or perhaps the existing patient has a large outstanding balance, you can send them a bill pay reminder before allowing them to confirm the appointment. Building in that 24-48 hour buffer allows you time to contact the patient about the booking to resolve any issues.

As you fine-tune your criteria and rules, you can get more granular with your notifications depending on providers' preferences or need-to-know staff members.

🎯 Step 3: Set expectations

Every month, NextPatient processes more than 400K online appointments that are self-scheduled by patients. It is exceedingly rare that patients book an appointment a practice would not want them to, but that's not to say that it will never happen. The key is to remember that the occasional incorrect booking is typically resolved without much fuss. More importantly, the upside of accelerating patient acquisition and increasing your practice's capacity is far more valuable to patients, staff, and providers.

Interested in seeing a demo of how allowing patients to self-schedule online could work with your practice management solution? Get in touch →


Post by NextPatient
August 18, 2023