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Analysis

What Patients Want During Scheduling? To Not Talk to Anyone

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   October 21, 2019

Patients prefer online scheduling to talking on the phone, a new report shows.

Patients would rather make their healthcare appointments online without speaking to anyone, a new report reveals. However, the report doesn't address how such a model might impact revenue cycles that want to do pre-service insurance verification and collections.

The report, from the firm Corporate Insight, assessed 21 healthcare organizations' appointment scheduling capabilities and management features, including systems like Banner Health, Mount Sinai, and Northwell Health. It also included user experience tests and interviews.

It showed that patients prefer online scheduling to talking on the phone. They don't want to spend time on hold; go back and forth discussing competing calendars; or play phone tag with scheduling representatives.

However, if online scheduling isn't possible, health systems should at least offer online appointment request forms, which allow patients to request their desired appointment online and confirm it via the phone, the report said.

The research also found that certain features, such as including a quick scheduling link from the home page and offering low click counts, were among the best practices for patient satisfaction.

On the flip side, websites with high click counts for the online scheduling—where lots of clicks are required to get from homepage to confirmation—frustrated users.

Of the systems included in the study, NYU Langone had the lowest click count to schedule an appointment—just three steps from its public home page—versus Houston Methodist, with 11, which had the highest, the report said. 

The research also showed that users expect to manage all aspects of their appointments online.

Indeed, health systems are increasingly moving toward self-service models for everything from appointment scheduling to paying their bills.

However, Chris Johnson, vice president of revenue cycle management for Atrium Health in North Carolina, doesn't believe that health systems should move entirely to the self-service model. He compares it to booking a flight online.

"It's fantastic until you hit a glitch, and then I want to find a person, which you can never find," he recently told HealthLeaders.  

In addition, many health systems are increasingly trying to do pre-service insurance verification and collections—often by phone—but the survey didn't address online scheduling's possible impact on the revenue cycle.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.


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