By Tom Cox, CEO, MyHealthDirect
Historically, practices have had no-show rates ranging from 5 to 50 percent. The reality is, missed appointments happen and, when they do, cost the practice both time and money. There are numerous reasons why patients miss appointments, but many of them could have been prevented.
Simply writing down the wrong date or not getting an appointment reminder call are two leading causes of lost appointments. The real issue is these no-shows can be easily avoided by leveraging new digital technology. When patients use digital scheduling tools, they will receive automated email confirmations which eliminate transcription errors and do not require them to answer a phone call.
Another way providers can reduce lost appointments is by making rescheduling easier. At the end of the day, patients are people and people have changing schedules. Once again, by using digital scheduling tools providers can offer a clear path for patients to reschedule their appointments when things come up.
Unfortunately, many current scheduling tools require patients to use the phone, wait in a queue, and be presented with a series of limited time options when looking to reschedule an appointment. This inconvenience can lead to patients becoming easily frustrated, often giving up and not leaving any notification of the requested change of appointment.
Eighty-seven percent of healthcare organizations say patient satisfaction is their top priority. If this is the case, then why are healthcare providers still opting to use old and out of date scheduling techniques to interact with their patients?
Technology needs to be flexible, adapting to the modern lives of patients and making the rescheduling of care just as easy and hassle free as the first visit. By 2019, Accenture estimates that 986 million appointments will be booked using self-scheduling tools. This provides health systems with an important chance to reallocate $3.2 billion in scheduler capacity that year alone.
With real opportunities available for health system providers to adapt to changing market conditions, what are the key benefits of using digital technology to enhance the scheduling of appointments?
Technology must adapt if we are to reach all of these goals. If technology is to truly achieve the intended benefits, and enable doctors to align with various channels, providers must invest in efficient and easy to use scheduling software that’s simple, convenient, and adaptable to a patient’s life from start to finish. In doing this, we can say goodbye to scheduling clashes and missed appointments, and welcome a new age of efficient healthcare and engaged patients.