Author: Jérémy Bourhis
25th January 2018
Going to the hospital or doctor’s office is a stressful experience for patients. Worries about health and concerns about getting the right support is enough to make anyone nervous.
Making it hard to book or change appointment only add more stress. And even after the appointments has taken place, patients can need help with their treatment or require follow-ups appointments.
There are even more challenges in hospitals where beds can be hard to find and appointments may need to be rescheduled at a moment’s notice due to emergencies.
Healthcare is a unique industry where the health of patients and the service provided always need to take precedence over financial considerations.
In some countries, healthcare services are publicly funded. In others, they’re private. Like other businesses, hospitals and doctor’s offices need to differentiate themselves from the competition. Offering patients the best possible experience whilst managing the costs of running a business is the key to success. With staff shortages and the rising costs of care, it can be difficult to provide the experience patients expect.
These are areas where technology – and specifically, calendar sync – can help. Few need harmonious scheduling more than healthcare. Connecting the schedules of patients and healthcare professionals allows for better communication and an improved patient experience.
Straightforward Appointment Booking
The schedule of a doctor’s office can be a nightmare to manage. Everyday, each doctor has dozens of appointments booked. There will be cancellations that open a last-minute spot. Ideally, these time slots need filling to provide a better service and use everyone’s time efficiently.
With real-time calendar sync, patients can access the calendar of the doctor they want to see via the booking interface of the Patient Scheduling Software. They can then pick the timeslot they want. If a timeslot becomes available, someone else can book it as soon as the doctor’s calendar updates. This helps making sure that patients can get the appointment time that works best for them while optimizing the office’s schedule.
Used with real-time availability features, it can help to automate the entire appointment booking process.
When it comes to referrals, patients can be waiting weeks or months to see a specialist. Online bookings based on real-time availability means that these appointments can be booked on the same day. This helps to improve the service and reduces waiting times.
Cronofy’s Smart Invites can be used to take this even further. Smart Invites replace classic ICS files and allow the sender to track what happens to the invitations they send. They can see if calendar events are accepted, declined or moved. Admin staff can then follow-up with patients who haven’t accepted an invitation to check if they intend to come. This can contribute to prevent no-shows.
Reduce no-shows with Appointment Reminders
One of the main challenges in the healthcare industry right now is the rising cost of missed appointments.
It’s especially critical in countries like the UK where the National Health Service (NHS) is funded by taxpayers. With diminishing budgets, every pound really matters when it comes to providing the best quality of service. Reports from 2016 have shown that the 8 million missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year. For a country as small as the UK, this number is huge. Money like this could be used to fund thousands of surgeries or pay for more staff and beds.
This is such an issue that the NHS has now decided to tell patients who don’t show up how much they’ve cost the NHS.
In countries like the US, it can be a cost paid directly by patients. Reminding them of their upcoming appointments is an important part of the service.
This is where using calendar sync to connect patients’ schedules to Patient Scheduling Software can be transformative. Any healthcare booking software will be able to return, in real-time, the availability of doctors. With calendar sync, the appointment can be added to the patient’s and hospital or doctor office’s calendars. This then enables appointment reminders to be sent to reduce the number of no-shows.
An online booking platform can then add events to the calendar of the patient once the appointment is booked. It’s more efficient that than just sending an email confirmation or even showing a popup window. This in return means that healthcare professionals can take advantage of smartphone technology. Push notifications can be used as reminders instead of text messages. And best of all? They’re free!
Providing better patient care
The patient experience doesn’t stop once they’ve booked an appointment. Providing patients with assistance long after they’ve left the office, surgery, or hospital goes a long way.
One of the obstacles on the path to recovery can be adhering to a treatment plan. It’s hard to introduce new elements into someone’s routine. If a patient needs to check their glucose level or remember to take a pill in the middle of the day, a reminder can help them stick to their prescription. This has previously been done via text message, but calendar sync is a cheaper alternative for you to add to your software.
Calendar sync can take things even further. Hospitals can use software to create a treatment schedule, then sync it with the patient’s calendar. Reminders can then be sent a few minutes before the treatment needs to be administered. It could even be taken further by asking the patient to confirm each event, ensuring that treatments don’t get missed.
A recent trend is also to enroll patients in lifestyle coaching programs to help them change their habits and stay healthy. This can go from reminding them to exercise to recommending meals. Using technology such as smart speakers and virtual assistants could make notifications more impactful and increase the chances of a patient sticking to the plan. Using smart speakers and virtual speakers to help with treatment plans isn’t widespread yet, but it’s a trend that is worth monitoring going forward.
Assisting staff with administrative tasks
There are countless tasks that need to be carried out every day to ensure that hospitals and doctor’s offices run as smoothly as possible. This falls on the shoulders of the admin staff, who much track the availability of beds and help medical practitioners to keep on top of their schedules. As well as this, they’re also the first point of contact for many patients. Their days are busy and often stressful, and they get little thanks for the hard work that they do.
But, using a patient administration software (PAS), many of the tasks that they do can be automated, giving them more time to focus on patient care. A PAS can be connected to medical practitioners’ calendars as well as to the schedules of bookable resources like beds. They can see, at-a-glance, who and what is free, and when.
For example, managing the schedules of operating rooms is easier when staff can see thei status for the day or week at a glance. This ensure minimal delays when a room is needed for an urgent operation.
Other use cases can range from managing new patient registrations and scheduling their appointments, to helping doctors and nurses book training sessions and conferences.
Get started now
From Patient Scheduling Software to coaching applications, technology already helps healthcare professionals around the world to manage their activities and provide a better quality of care.
For patients, calendar sync allows them to book their appointments online. This reduces the number of missed appointments and means they can get seen faster.
Building calendar sync into patient management software eases some of the administrative challenges of the healthcare industry. Our Unified Calendar API works with all major calendar services so you can focus on building the best features for your users.
Date: 25th January 2018 | Category: Healthcare