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Why Not Offering After-Hours Booking Is A Problem

Is your practice fielding seemingly endless calls to set up appointments?

Or worse, are you taking multiple calls for the same appointment? Do you start your day frazzled, thanks to a voice mailbox full of appointment requests that may (or may not) become real appointments? Do you struggle to fill up last-minute time slots?

If these scenarios sound familiar, then you need online booking. The ability to self-schedule appointments 24/7 offers patients more convenience, of course. But online booking isn’t just a bonus; it’s increasingly becoming a requirement for a successful practice — especially when it comes to acquiring and retaining millennial patients. Read on to learn more about the importance of offering self-scheduling.

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Millennials want healthcare that’s more connected than ever

Millennials grew up on the internet, and even healthcare is woven into the interconnectivity of their lives, from tracking health metrics via apps to relying on social media for 24/7 support on health issues. Then there’s “Dr. Google.” When Zocdoc conducted a survey in 2015 to learn more about how Americans engage in healthcare, we found that 43 percent of respondents felt it was easier to diagnose and treat themselves than visit a doctor.

This mindset shift has serious consequences for patients, who risk missing out on the quality of care they can only get from seeing a doctor. Millennials are the most likely to delay or skip preventive care — our survey found that a staggering 93 percent of patients in this age group aren’t scheduling regular medical appointments.

After-hours booking is a must to reach millennials

In our survey, 1 in 4 patients said they find it difficult to reach someone at their doctor’s office by phone. And if their first attempt to call doesn’t result in a successful booking, 26 percent said they wait at least a few weeks to try again. It’s no surprise that 80 percent of our survey respondents said they’re more motivated to book an appointment if they can do it online.

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Online booking also works because it allows patients to schedule an appointment anytime, not just during office hours. Forty-five percent of appointments scheduled via Zocdoc are booked after hours. So if you’re not offering after-hours booking, you could be missing out on nearly half of your booking potential.

After-hours booking helps your practice run more efficiently

Online booking can immediately boost productivity at your practice. It outsources some of your appointment-scheduling duties to the booking platform, freeing up your office staff to do other tasks. And it can also help fill up your schedule, making each day more profitable.

With after-hours booking, patients can book last-minute appointments in time slots that might otherwise go vacant. A 2016 survey conducted by a medical software company reported that 6 percent of the appointments scheduled online were for same-day slots, and about 1 in 4 were same-day or next-day appointments. The ability to book an appointment on short notice is also a concern for patients, as nearly one-third of our survey respondents reported skipping a medical visit because it was too hard to get a last-minute appointment. So online booking is a true win-win for both patients and providers.

Most importantly, adopting online after-hours booking keeps your practice current

Online booking isn’t a fleeting trend, and you need to adopt it now to stay up to date. 

Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm, predicts that 66 percent of health systems, including the top 100, will offer self-scheduling by 2019. Accenture also predicts that nearly two-thirds of patients will make appointments via self-scheduling, booking 986 million appointments worth $3.2 billion. 

If you want to attract your share of those appointments, the time to start after-hours online booking is now.

Click here to list your practice with Zocdoc — and start booking new appointments today.