Patient-Friendly, Modern Medical Appointments: What Do They Look Like?

March 10, 2021 - by WELL Staff

For the modern healthcare provider, patient satisfaction is paramount.

This is especially true in 2021, where the world is still dealing with the pandemic. Patients’ expectations have dramatically shifted. They want immediate and continuous delivery of healthcare services, but they want to keep the risks of contracting COVID-19 extremely low.

Optimizing the patient experience means offering modern medical appointments that meet the expectations of the contemporary healthcare consumer.

What makes a medical appointment “modern”? Providers need to move beyond an outmoded model of care, where a patient phones the health center, sits on hold, gets an appointment, sits in the waiting room, fills out forms on pen and paper, and so on. Telehealth services gained significant traction during the pandemic.

Research shows that modern healthcare consumers are very open to using intelligent technologies and innovative approaches to data-sharing. More than a year after the start of the pandemic, 70% of patients said they are willing to share COVID-related health data with their physicians. When it comes to online medical appointment scheduling, and in many other areas, modern medical appointments share a number of defining features:

They focus on improving consumers’ convenience.

Modern medical appointments are shaped by what modern patients actually want: forms of communication that mirror their normal lives. This shift is driven in part by the consumerization of healthcare, which is raising patient expectations around convenience. Patients want their healthcare to slot into their existing technology and behavior patterns; they don’t want to be forced to adapt to a dated set of systems.

To provide convenience to patients, particularly in the area of medical appointments, providers must also include personalization in the picture. Patients want to receive news and updates about their appointments in a manner that is convenient and highly personalized to them. That is doubly true with the pandemic ongoing.

Having an online medical appointment system is a key step toward improving convenience for healthcare consumers. Nearly 70 percent of patients switch healthcare providers in search of more convenience. Providers must consider improving and simplifying all manner of patient tasks through online medical appointment scheduling.

In the era of COVID-19, increasing convenience means minimizing the risk of contagion with technologies that offer touchless patient intake. Providers must also strive to make real-time COVID-19 information easily and rapidly available to patients. We are long past an era where most people want to phone their providers. Information must be conveniently available via the channels that modern people bias toward: text, email, etc.

They fix schedules digitally through healthcare technologies.

Modern medical appointments can be scheduled and rescheduled easily, and without picking up the phone. Patient-friendly providers leverage the power of new communication technologies to host online medical appointment scheduling functions, making the entire process accessible and convenient for all patients.

Rescheduling appointments should be easy for both providers and patients. However, providers need to be more proactive now that patients expect providers to re-engage them after canceling their appointments. Only 15% of patients receive reschedule updates via text. This is far too low.

When patients are looking for an easy and streamlined patient access experience, they may ask the following questions:

  • Can I schedule my appointments online?
  • Can I manage my health information online?
  • Am I able to make my payments online?
  • Can I complete all of these from my mobile device, at my convenience?

If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you are offering the modern medical appointments that patients want. However, if you are still relying on manual data entry, phone calls, and old systems of payment, then patients are certain to be irked.

They minimize unnecessary costs.

Modern medical appointments create benefits for providers as well as patients. How? Manual data entry not only wastes valuable time; it also opens the door to safety issues and revenue leakage. Studies show that appointment booking errors cost up to $2,000 per patient. Additionally, patient identification errors cost healthcare facilities an average of $1.5 million in revenue each year.

Adopting a technologically-driven platform improves operational efficiency. When you automate a significant volume of patient communication – from the initial touchpoint, through to treatment and record keeping – you not only improve slot utilization; you also reduce no-shows and maximize the value of your team.

By maximizing appointments and time efficiency, you will lower the cost of connecting with patients and drive increased revenue to enhance your bottom line. Keeping track of medical appointments, if not done efficiently, will potentially cost you patients. Moving toward a model of modern medical appointments will help you escape this fate.

Moreover, recent research reveals that no-shows usually signal ineffectively engaged patients, with as many as 50 percent of patient referrals never completed. Again, technologically-powered systems such as WELL can solve no-show issues by enabling seamless message delivery to coordinate virtual care.

Such systems will not only save valuable staff time and resources. They will also maximize the value of your existing telehealth investments and improve patient satisfaction. A recent report published by the WELL Data Analytics team predicted that telehealth will account for more than 15 percent of patient visits through the end of 2020. This makes it a vital necessity for providers, especially in managing an online medical appointment system now and in the future.

They include real conversations, not only basic automation.

Modern medical appointments allow companies to upgrade from executing basic automation to creating valuable conversations with patients. Platforms like WELL facilitate complex and meaningful exchanges that benefit both the patient and the care provider.

Opening up a conversation alleviates workflows, to ensure that patients can do as much as they can before they visit your care center. Such a system also recaptures more of what you might lose when completing appointments manually or through phone conversations.

In fact, empirical evidence suggests that ‘computer-mediated communication’ — principally, conversing through an electronic system — can actually become more effective and fulfilling than face-to-face communication. Modern medical appointments enable patients to converse about their care how they like.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication hub can help you offer and provide truly modern medical appointments. ♥

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