If you’re running a chiropractic organization or another healthcare institution, you’ll know how important it is to schedule patient appointments quickly and efficiently. For your system to work, it needs to be easy for patients, manageable for your staff, and consistent. But how can you make this happen?
Choose the Right Software
Much of your success depends on the quality and effectiveness of your patient scheduling software. The right software will include features like:
- Website integration. First, your patient scheduling software should be directly integrated with your website. Patients visiting your site for the first time, or as existing patients, should be able to view provider availability and book an appointment in just a few clicks. The quicker and the more intuitive this process is, the better; you’ll build immediate trust with your patient and close the loop.
- Live updating. You don’t want to run into double-booking issues. Your platform of choice should update itself on a live and ongoing basis, automatically removing time slots and appointment options that are no longer available.
- Form management. You should also have some degree of control over the information that patients submit when scheduling an appointment. Do you require them to provide a name? A reason for the visit? Can you give them a space to make additional notes?
- Convenient manual entry. There will be cases where your patients can’t or don’t want to book an appointment online. They may call your business to schedule an appointment or book a follow-up the day of their first appointment. In these cases, you’ll want your software to offer manual entry – so your staff members can book appointments themselves.
- Automatic reminders. Let’s face it – patients aren’t always great at remembering their appointments. To maximize attendance, it’s a good idea to choose a platform with built-in automatic reminders, so your patients will get calls, texts, and/or emails reminding them of their upcoming appointments.
- Multiple views (for all parties). It should be easy to switch between day/month/time views, and convenient for your staff to view appointments from a global or provider level.
- Tracking and reporting. Your booking software should also offer some kind of tracking and reporting. It’s important to know whether your patients are actually showing up for their appointments – and see just how well your system is working.
Once you have a solid patient scheduling software platform in place, you’ll see a near-immediate boost in your efficiency and consistency. But it’s not the only change you’re going to have to make.
Test the System
Don’t just assume that your software is working as intended. There’s a small chance your platform isn’t working how it should – or that you’ve accidentally chosen the wrong settings. Before trusting your system to work autonomously, put it through a series of tests. Pretend like you’re a patient encountering this system for the first time on your website and see if you can schedule an appointment quickly and easily. It’s also a good idea to test this on a variety of different devices and browsers, to ensure the functionality is universal.
Train Your Staff
Hopefully, the majority of your patients will be comfortable with and capable of booking their new appointments online – but there will still be fringe cases that require your staff members to step in and set manual appointments (or walk patients through the system). Accordingly, it’s important to train your staff members on how to use your software platform appropriately and consistently. Provide them with thorough documentation and walk them through the process to make sure they understand it.
Educate Your Patients
It may also be a good idea to provide some education to your patients. Let your current patients know that you have a new appointment scheduling system in place via email newsletter or similar announcement, and briefly explains how it works. The right booking software will make things intuitive, but if your patients don’t know you have online scheduling, they won’t be able to take advantage of it.
Collect Feedback and Improve
Finally, you’ll need to spend time collecting feedback and making improvements. Use customer satisfaction surveys to get a feel for how your patients feel about their scheduling experience. After their appointment, ask them what they thought of the process. How do they rate it on a scale of 1 to 5? Do they have any specific comments about the functionality of this system? Listen to these comments and make improvements if and when you can.
You may not be able to perfect your patient scheduling system overnight, but with the right software on your side, you’ll have a clear path forward – and your patients will thank you. Higher patient satisfaction will lead to higher retention and better reviews, so your practice or organization can grow.