Posted on June 15, 1015 by Cassie Frazer
The benefits of electronic patient appointment booking (“e-booking”) seem to be straightforward and easy to anticipate for patients. Compared to conventional appointment scheduling, e-booking is convenient, saves time and can result in improved patient and provider satisfaction. Generally speaking, once a practice has begun to use an e-booking solution, their patients and staff cannot imagine ever going back.
Through the e-Booking Initiative, I regularly connect with participants to learn about their successes and learnings while they are implementing their solutions. Here are some things to consider:
- Do not underestimate the need for planning. Before getting started, it is helpful for clinicians and staff to take some time to review current scheduling practices and aim to reduce scheduling complexity to a few standard appointment types and lengths. As much as possible, try to involve all members (e.g., administrative staff, clinic managers, providers) of the team in these discussions.
- Identify an e-booking team champion. Identify someone in your practice who is responsible for leading the implementation of e-booking. Ensure this champion has clear objectives and goals, and an opportunity to report back regularly to the team on progress. With proper attention and focus, the transition to e-booking can go smoothly.
- Allocate sufficient time for solution training. Inquire if the vendor will provide training, and if it can be offered at different times in the day, and repeated if necessary. Some practices shared that receiving training outside of clinic hours allowed them better focus and to more quickly understand how to use the solution in the context of their work environment.
- Ensure there are enough online appointments available for booking. Experienced users shared the importance of ensuring there were a sufficient number of appointments available for online booking. With enough availability, patients were more likely to trust they could book an appointment when needed and would only do so as required.
- Your words are important. Findings from a research study conducted on the use of e-booking in primary care found that patients were more likely to adopt and use the e-booking solution if the practice’s front-office staff or their own provider told them about it. Pamphlets, website notices and office posters are also helpful resources but the ‘word of mouth’ referral goes a long way to getting patients to use the e-booking solution.
If you are considering e-booking or currently implementing, visit our e-booking pages to access resources that could help you in your journey.
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Cassie Frazer has 20 years of health care experience working in numerous roles, including 12 years as a front-line Respiratory Therapist. She has a Bachelor of Science from Queens University and a Masters in Heath Administration from the University of Toronto. She was a co-founder of the Pan-Canadian Change Management Network, a leading contributor to the National Change Management Framework and is a certified health informatics professional. Cassie currently works for Canada Health Infoway as the Program Director for Consumer Health & Innovation. Within the broad portfolio of digital health initiatives she manages, she is able to leverage her experience and interests in change management, health informatics and innovation.