3 Ways Scheduling Lag Time Impacts Your Profits
By Blakely Roth | March 29, 2023
Practices choose online scheduling platforms to bring in more patients, provide 24/7 scheduling options and reduce staff time spent fielding appointment bookings (including cancellations and rescheduling.)
When you invest in a scheduling solution, you expect it to deliver results, not create overbookings and patient frustration that leads to an influx of staff work. The lag time between your scheduling platform and your patient management system (PMS) or electronic health record (EHR) can create inaccuracies in available appointments. When your schedule doesn’t instantly update to reflect when patients book, cancel or reschedule appointments, your practice can easily fall victim to overbooking and other significant revenue setbacks like patient leakage and appointment gaps.
Here’s how lag time in a digital patient scheduling platform can impact your profits.
With an ineffective online scheduling tool, overbooking can become a regular occurrence for your practice. For example, some scheduling tools can have a 15+ minute lag between when appointments are requested and when that appointment is updated as “booked” in the scheduling system. At the same time, with no lag, practice staff or a call center employee could schedule that same appointment directly into your system, meaning the time slot a patient thought they secured online could now still be given to another patient. When this double booking happens, staff must call patients and help them book new appointment times, even though they thought they had an appointment secured.
When your staff must intervene to fix a mistake caused by your digital scheduling solution, it renders that solution essentially useless, as it was intended to relieve staff burdens, not cause them to field calls with frustrated patients. Ensure you capture the value you need from an online scheduling solution, by making sure the platform integrates seamlessly with your PMS/EHR.
2. Patient frustration & leakage
When overbooking happens and staff call on patients to explain the situation and rebook, you open an opportunity for the patient to drop the call and potential booking altogether.
When asked to find a new appointment time patients may end up never booking, due to frustration or lack of availability in their personal schedules. After losing their desired time slot, patients may search for other providers, resulting in patient acquisition and retention losses. This entire scenario creates significant patient leakage and hinders your ability to compete.
Even if the patient chooses to book, they may be frustrated before making it into the office, which can lead to bad reviews and provider frustration. With 64% of consumers searching for provider reviews online, one bad review left from a frustrated patient can lead to additional patient leakage and acquisition challenges.
3. Appointment gaps:
It is harder to fill canceled and rescheduled appointment gaps if your online system isn’t communicating properly with your EHR/PMS. If your online scheduling platform has integration challenges that can lead to gaps in your schedule that your staff may have to fix manually or may even be unaware of.
For example, a patient may call in to cancel or reschedule an appointment and your staff may then update this information in your PMS. If there’s a lag in this update between your online scheduling system and your PMS, your practice will again fall victim to overbooking. If your online scheduling system doesn’t update at all when staff manually update the schedule – you’ll create additional appointment gaps and scheduling errors.
Slots that your online system thinks are filled, may have been canceled/rescheduled, leading to unexpected scheduling gaps and wasted provider time and revenue. Seamless integration with your PMS/EHR and real-time schedule updates between your systems are imperative to increasing patient acquisition, retention and revenue.
A Scheduling Solution That Brings in Patients 24/7
At the core of every high-growth practice, is a 24/7 scheduling tool that meets provider needs while accelerating patient acquisition.
Implementing Clearwave’s patient scheduling software has helped one Children’s Clinic increase patient volume, with 39% of scheduled appointments happening after-hours and filling open scheduling gaps. Sara J. Laun Cannon, M.D. a Pediatrician at this Children’s Clinic shares,
“Many providers were worried that patients would schedule appointments incorrectly; however, we were able to add rules and logic to prevent this. Both patients and providers have been pleased with the flexibility and capabilities. We were also happy to see that patients were able to schedule appointments correctly with our logic in place.” Read their story here.
Invest in a proven patient scheduling platform that updates in real-time to ensure that your practice can achieve the growth goals you’ve set for this year. Streamline call center and online scheduling, add a waitlist to fill last-minute appointment gaps and bring in more patient profits this year. Let’s get started.
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