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Online Appointments

Do you want the Practice-centric or Patient-centric option?
Why not aim for both?

As a Practice Management Consultant and Software Trainer I actively look for ways to save practices time and money. It is my job to introduce new and innovative health IT to improve efficiencies inOnline appointments the practice.
Therefore I have been gently introducing the idea of online appointments for many years. Over this time much has been written about online appointments. Essentially we have always had two choices:

  1. Practice-centric ie your existing patients book appointments with you online or
  2. Patient-centric ie patients search for available clinicians/appointments in their area across a range of different healthcare practices.

With more players in this market-place than ever before (I count 11) options have never looked better. The challenge is how to determine which system is best for your practice.  In the hope of helping with the decision-making process I have made a list of current providers (in alphabetical order).

Online Appointment Service Providers
Clinic Connect Now owned by 1st Available
Doc Appointments Now owned by 1st Available
Health Engine
1st Available
MedicalDirector PracSoft Inbuilt system
Ozdocs Online

(If I missed any I apologise, and please let me know).

Which Online System is the best?

With all these providers offering more fabulous features all the time how do you decide which one is best for your practice? To help you with that decision-making process, and to help you to know what questions to ask when you do contact providers, I have made a list of 20 features. If you prioritise them for your practice it may help narrow down your choice.

Tick (or label in priority order) what is important to you:

1 Offering more services/options for our existing patients
2 Patients being able to find us via an online search
3 Want to utilise existing software functionality (ie no third party products).
4 Customisation of appointment types & length of appointments
5 Customisation according to individual doctor preferences
6 Ability to offer online appointments for existing patients only
7 Easy to implement & use/minimal training required
8 Website/portal included  (for those without an existing website)
9 Marketing materials to advertise online appointments to patients
10 Reporting/analytic tools
11 Security of patient and practice information
12 Photos/professional description of doctors for patients to view
13 An app/accessibility via mobile device such as tablet or smart phone
14 Ability for patients to request prescriptions online
15 Ability to communicate results/recalls with patients online
16 Ability to send preventive health email campaigns
17 Self-check-in features for patients (via mobile device)
18 Trial period
19 Low monthly fee
20 No hidden costs

If you are convinced about online appointments thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time 🙂
Otherwise just a few more words …

Don’t be too busy to change

I won’t list the benefits of online appointments as you can read them on all the providers’ websites. I do still however talk to practices regularly who aren’t convinced online appointments will benefit them. Essentially the concerns I hear from administration staff fall into two main categories:

1) Fear of losing control of the appointments, and
2) Fear of losing jobs due to not having to constantly answer the phone to make appointments.

I would encourage all practices (Specialists and Allied Health included) to explore the options available now. If you come back with more wins than losses then start planning your strategic approach to managing this change with your staff and patients.

“A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.”

— George Patton

My opinion

While a ‘wait and see’ approach is very common with new technology, in my opinion we are often waiting for perfect. I would say times have changed and we need a more proactive, business-savvy approach. I have not heard of any practices turning off their online appointments after trialling it. On the contrary I find practices everywhere raving about how much their patients love the service.

As a patient myself I would think less of my medical practice if they did not offer the choice of online options. As a Practice Manager I would like to see my  staff take less appointment phone calls and have more moments where they can really connect with those patients who want or need to call.

It is better to keep up than catch up”.

I hope my list helps you sort through the options currently available. If you would like some help improving your practice systems contact us at Train IT Medical – we’re here to help.


Final tip: For help keeping up with emerging online technologies and trends consider subscribing to Pulse-IT.




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