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Today’s consumers demand the ability to interact with businesses and service providers at any time and from anywhere via the Internet.
And that’s no different when they want to schedule a dental appointment. A patient-first experience needs to offer patients the ability to book an appointment even when your office is closed. As such, after-hour booking is now a key feature in helping dental practices acquire and retain more patients.
While online booking may seem like a minor service offering in the big scheme of things, you may be surprised how big a difference it can make in delivering an engaging and convenient patient experience:
When patients are looking for a dentist, many search online and then visit the websites listed on the search results. If you have an online scheduling feature on your site, you’ll have a better chance in capturing these opportunities that you’d otherwise miss out (the whopping 40%!) As a result, you’ll be able to book more patients even when your office is closed.
In addition, an online booking feature on your website helps project an image that you’re up-to-date with patient engagement technologies. Nowadays, a service provider that doesn’t offer online booking or digital paperwork is often considered a laggard and doesn’t inspire trust in patients.
An online patient portal that’s accessible via your website allows you to easily provide the convenience of online scheduling to your patients. Here’s how you can increase the effectiveness of online scheduling so you can capture more after hour booking:
First and foremost, make sure it’s easy for patients to book an appointment with you online. Otherwise, they’ll move onto another practice that’s open, answers their calls after hours, or offers a convenient online scheduling tool.
Keep in mind that you only have a few seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, get them to click on your call-to-action (CTA), and book an appointment, so make sure you have the CTA button placed prominently on your website.
Streamline the user flow so patients can book appointments with as few clicks as possible. Provide clear instructions to help users finish the booking on their own -- if visitors are unable to complete the task or get help, they may try another provider. For existing patients, you can also pre-populate the form fields to reduce friction in the scheduling process.
To make sure visitors can successfully book an appointment after hours to maximize patient sign up, you can add a live chat feature on your website so users can get the help they need as soon as they need it. Chat-bots can be programmed to provide answers to commonly asked questions to facilitate the booking process.
The experience that patients get after they have booked an appointment is just as important. Program your system to send out an automated confirmation right away via text and/or email and multiple appointment reminders to keep patients engaged and minimize no-shows.
You can also use a scheduling system that integrates with your dental EHR system to send a link for patients to fill out the necessary paperwork digitally right after an appointment is made to keep them engaged.
Not only will this helps reduce wait time and streamline patient experience but you can also increase the chances that patients will keep their appointments because they have invested the time to provide their information.
Last but not least, ensure that your online scheduling system is mobile-friendly as more and more consumers search for local service providers on mobile devices. Currently, around one-third of online appointments are made with tablets or smartphones and the number is only going to increase.
Online appointment scheduling is a great way to make sure that patients that want to book an appointment with you after hours can do so quickly and easily.
This will allow you to capture as many opportunities as possible to acquire new patients while providing a convenient service to existing patients to improve the quality of care and increase your retention rate.