Richard Lango December 31st, 2009
There are very many aspects of a good online medical appointment scheduler. Basically, the online scheduler you use should make the entire process of booking appointments easier for both the patients and your medical staff.
First of all, let us look at the patients’ side. Is it convenient for patients ? They should be able to make their own appointments without having to wait in a queue. Secondly is it easy to use? If the patients will need to take some learning curve in order to grasp how the system works, many of them will simply give up and look for another service. Of course, you do not need to be told that such a step will be a blow to your business.
Here is a check-list for a scheduler friendly for patients.
1) Is it easier to login? (i.e. the more access info it requires, the harder to perform login. is userid easy to remember by patient? Are they gonna forget about their login very soon?)
2) Does scheduler support automated new patient signup?
3) Is the scheduler easy to navagate? Patients will pickup their appointment slots easily?
4) How much info a patient has to fill in before an appointment is booked? i.e. Is there auto-search, auto-complete feature so booking an appointment should be point-and-click?
5) Is user instruction or alert message clear to users?
Your office also needs to have an easy time when using the online scheduler. In addition to the various features that enable the scheduler to synchronize with a variety of devices and applications, its interface should be intutive. If your medical staff will need to use a user manual in order to be able to operate your office automation system, then you need to think twice!
You should therefore ensure that you use a program that combines useful features with a easy to use modern Graphical User Interface (GUI). The user interface should have an aesthetic appeal, it should be quick and easy for staff to access info they are looking. Here is a check-list for a friendly scheduler for your staff.
1) Is the scheduler easily accessible? (can it be use it from home? on handheld device such as smartphones, blackberry, iphone?) Does it sync with Google Calendar?
2) Can your schedule be easily modified? (open or block your working time, modify schedule)
3) Does the scheduler includes office friendly features such as To-Do-list management, office messenger, auto-login to support desk?
4) Can you make recurrent and emergency appointments easily?
5) Can you customize your appointments? (define name, duration, on what weekday it is available?, wether or not restriction applies to patient, wether or not it requires to be pre-paid on appointment booking?)
5) Can a shared practice with multiple doctor schedulers be managed using single login?
6) Can your scheduler make automated telephone reminder call to patients?
7) Can your scheduler act also as your virtual receptionist? i.e. taking phone call from your patients, engage in natural language dialog with them, booking appointment or dispatch them to emergency contact?
Believe or not, schedulers that meet this tall order do exist! Once you find one that meet this check list and your practice need, you will not look back again.