The digitalization of the healthcare industry has accelerated in the past few years and there’s no indication that this development will pace down in the near future either. The benefits of using technology, such as patient appointment systems, in hospitals and outpatient clinics are many. In this article, I’d like to focus on how a patient appointment system, also known as patient appointment software, can help hospitals improve patient flow management and increase patient experience and staff satisfaction.
What is a patient appointment system?
A patient appointment systemis a solution to help streamline the patient flow with available resources, moving patientsefficiently through their patient journeywhile reducing the administrative workload of healthcare staff. Using a patient appointment system gives more flexibility and control to your patients to book their own appointments.
If the patient appointment software is also integrated into existing hospital systems, essential information about the patient can be provided to your staff at the same time other hospital resources are collected in the same system to help staff members prepare ahead of the appointments more efficiently.
Overcoming the most common challenges within healthcare
The most common challenge in the healthcare industry is reducing operational costs and limited resources while aiming for higher efficiency. The difficulties of operating with limited resources, especially in hospitals, usually display themselves in long waiting times, inefficient and disruptive patient flows, and stressed-out staff with increasing workloads.
One easy way to reduce patients' waiting time is by investing in an appointment scheduling system where patients can easily book their appointments, arrive at a suitable time, and announce their arrival on their phone, at a self-service kiosk, or at a reception. Helping you create a seamless patient journey.
With a hospital appointment system, you enable your staff to focus on attending to your patients and provide the best care for them. The worry of managing complex patient flows and spending time on administrative tasks are reduced to a minimum, relieving your staff of this time-consuming work.
Top 5 benefits of a patient appointment system in hospitals and clinics
Reduced wait time for patients
With a patient appointment system, the stream of patients in and out of the facility is managed better and in accordance with available resources, such as examination rooms or staff with the right expertise. Non-urgent patients can schedule their appointments beforehand, while some empty slots are kept for emergency drop-in patients. This way, long waiting times and large crowds are limited to a minimum, and cross-infection risks are reduced amongst patients in airier waiting rooms.
Better time management for patients and staff
Enabling patients to book their appointments allows them to plan their day accordingly and make changes to their calendar, limiting the uncertainty of when an appointment time will be given to them by healthcare providers. This helps to improve the overall patient experienceas the patient gains more control and flexibility regarding their care.
Similarly, healthcare staff can manage their workday schedule more efficiently. They can also prepare themselves for upcoming appointments with information the patients fill in when booking their appointments. Allowing your staff to, for example, research symptoms or book internal equipment for performing specific examinations.
Improved work environment
A patient appointment system enables hospitals to create a more balanced patient flow and even workload throughout the day, reducing your staff's stress levels. By spreading out appointments, you eliminate the stress of peak hours, reduce time-consuming administrative work, and practice better resource allocation, resulting in an improved work environment and happier staff.
Most appointment scheduling tasks are automated in a patient appointment system, meaning the administrative workload is immensely reduced on your staff. Instead of spending hours contacting patients, finding an appointment slot, collecting needed patient information to confirm the appointment, and managing staff members’ calendars, your staff can focus on providing excellent patient care. Appointment scheduling systems can handle administrative work through automation and support hospital staff so they can spend time on essential tasks that can only be performed by trained professionals.
Selecting a patient appointment system
An appointment scheduling system can help you manage patient flows, increasing patient experience and staff satisfaction. However, booking functionality is only a piece of the puzzle of creating seamless and efficient patient journeys. Selecting a patient appointment system that can be applied to multiple hospital departments and offers functionalities to meet the needs of various department operations is also important to consider.
If you’d like to learn more about what to consider when selecting a patient appointment system based on organizational application and needs as well as how it can be used to achieveyour patient experience goals, download our Patient Journey Management Guide below.
*This article is an updated version of the originally published post from 27/01/2021 by John Wordingham.