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Written by Balaji R

Imagine a scenario where your patient waiting room is full with patients and their attendants. Your Secretary or Receptionist is having an extremely difficult time answering questions from patients on why the delay in seeing you. Everyone is hovering about her desk and she is increasingly getting flustered and agitated answering questions. All this chaos is all the more unwelcome these days with the threat of infection spreading due to the crowd that is flouting social distancing norms.

A doctor appointment booking system would be the solution to the confusion caused by patients assembling in your waiting room at any point of time. It is simply too complex to manage it manually as someone takes down appointments. It is only as good as the person managing the appointments. There will always be situations where patients would want to reschedule and cancel appointments which can turn out to be a nightmare for the clinic staff. Moving to a doctor appointment booking system can bring order and regulate the footfalls in the clinic, which is a win-win for both the doctor and the patients.

Patients would also greatly benefit if their doctor uses an appointment booking system. Their appointment would be predictable and certain. They would be able to manage their time better. A doctor appointment booking system can also be configured to remind patients about their forthcoming appointment.

What are the features to look for in a doctor appointment booking system?

1. Ease of usage

Patients and your staff should find the doctor booking system easy to use. They should be able to intuitively understand the system and book appointments easily. Sufficient information should be collected from the patient before booking. However asking for too many details would put off the patient. Similarly, your staff should be able to see the open slots and book them in case of any such need.

2. Appointment confirmation

The appointment booking system should send appointment confirmation to patients and doctors alike on booking of an appointment. This confirmation can be in the form of an email if the patient has provided his/her email address. It should also include a SMS confirmation giving the date, time and location of the clinic. Mobile phones have become very common and therefore are the best medium to contact patients and remind them about a booked appointment. The doctor can also choose to collect some information about the patient’s health status so that there is sufficient time for preparation.

3. Different time slots

A doctor may offer a variety of services. Patients should be able to book a service of their choice at the requisite time that is available and convenient for the patient. Doctors and their staff should have the flexibility of booking some time slots in the case of emergencies. Doctors should have the option of blocking some days for vacations, non-availability and holidays. Doctors may offer a variety of services of varying durations, timeslots should get booked accordingly.

4. Should be flexible

The doctor appointment booking system should be flexible enough to accommodate the requirements of the doctor. There would always be patient emergencies when doctors should be able to handle more than one patient at the same time slot. This can be achieved by proving the doctor with the facility to book overlapping appointments.

5. Appointment reminders

One of the biggest challenges for doctors are no-shows. These can be frustrating . One of the simplest and most effective solutions for no-shows is appointment reminders. Patients simply forget that they have an appointment. A reminder, timed correctly, certainly helps in reducing no-shows. Reminders can be sent by email and SMS. Your Assistant may also make a phone call to remind, this is however very tedious and expensive. A SMS appointment reminder is generally effective.

6. Is it easy to cancel and reschedule appointments

The doctor appointment booking system should be flexible. Patients and doctors should be able to reschedule appointments easily. Rescheduling of appointments must also be convenient. Confirmations should be sent by Email and SMS. Doctors allocate dedicated time for each appointment. In certain cases doctors may choose to charge patients in the event of no-show. As a matter of courtesy patients should try to reschedule or cancel appointments well ahead of the booked slot.

7. Meaningful statistics and reports

What gets measured gets done! Appointments data is certainly very useful to plan capacity. Appointment booking trends can clearly indicate the time intervals when the doctor is likely to be most busy in a location. The doctor can plan allied activities like meeting medical reps and attending meetings when they are less busy. Doctors can also use appointment data to plan breaks. Information on online payments received linked to bookings can drive down commissions payable to aggregators. An online appointment booking system, if sitting on top of a well optimized website can drive patient traffic and reduce costs payabe to aggregators.

8. Time-offs

Patients would greatly appreciate if they can be informed beforehand about the non-availability of the doctor so that they can plan their time better. The doctor appointment booking system should have this feature to mark time/days when the doctor is unavailable to offer appointments to patients.

9. Appointments and payment gateway

In certain cases, doctors would like the patient to pay upfront before the appointment is confirmed. A typical case of this is teleconsultation where the doctor and patient connect virtually. The appointment booking system should have this feature to collect the payment for the consultation in advance.

10. Doctor should have a day, weekly and monthly view of appointments

Doctors should be able to have a view of the appointments on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The appointments for the day should also appear on the E.H.R so that the doctor can plan his/her day ahead of time. The appointments should seamlessly integrate in to the E.H.R.

An online doctor appointment system is no longer an aspirational need. It has become an integrated tool in a doctor’s practice. Patients prefer doctors having a digital presence, pretty much like a banking or insurance product. At Genamet, we offer doctors with a powerful digital presence coupled with a robust appointment booking system. Book a demo now.

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