We can easily book flights, pay our bills, and make purchases online with a click of a button. And if we’re looking to see a doctor, we can call a care center to digital patient scheduling an appointment or go to an app to look up a list of nearby providers. While these options have their benefits, they also mean that you no longer need to wait for an appointment at your regular physician’s office or the emergency room.
First-time patients must still make an initial appointment with a provider, which can be time-consuming and costly. When you choose an urgent care center, you may be able to get treatment faster or see more providers in a shorter amount of time, but there are often long wait times. As health plans take ownership over the digital front door to care, direct connectivity to provider schedules becomes critical, whether on a provider directory, in a care finder app, or as a new capability for contact centers to health plan capabilities and also allows for strategic steerage opportunities to high performing providers.
Some health plans already offer patients online appointment scheduling to their primary care physicians, allowing them to schedule a routine visit from their couch, without having to make another appointment or wait in an overcrowded clinic.
The need for direct connectivity with providers is so vital that patients have no choice but to use digital patient scheduling. For example, according to one survey, 81% of patients are willing to change health plans if they can easily access providers via an app. This is true even for patients who already have access to digital patient scheduling on their current plan. Another survey found that patients are not just looking for ease of access to their provider schedules, but also for more convenient ways to communicate with providers. For example, 61% of patients are interested in the ability to text their providers about health issues.
A health plan could create a virtual concierge for its members by linking a care center with its preferred provider organization network. Members would be able to schedule appointments directly from within the care center’s digital experience. As the primary point of connection for care seekers and providers, digital patient scheduling is critical for both parties.
The following sections describe how digital patient scheduling will affect all players in the ecosystem: providers, consumers, payers, and care centers. These sections also provide a look at the market and other trends driving digital patient scheduling. Provider-Side Benefits of Digital Patient Scheduling Providers can benefit from the increased ability to connect with patients that come with digital patient scheduling.
In addition to allowing them to schedule appointments more efficiently and increase their appointment bookings, they can use the technology to send timely reminders to patients about upcoming visits and deliver relevant education and wellness messages. A few studies suggest that digital patient scheduling could have a positive impact on provider earnings. The availability of digital patient scheduling may also give providers another opportunity to expand services. They can partner with care centers to offer new services like preventive care or online consultations. The plan can connect with providers in the community and deliver services in a more convenient manner. As part of their digital strategy, health plans should consider leveraging digital patient scheduling to support existing care centers.