Patient Scheduling Software Buyer's Guide
By Bergen Adair, Market Research Associate
During the course of any given day, your physician practice can expect to encounter many unplanned events and last minute changes. Scheduling is command central to keep your practice running smoothly. In today's healthcare environment, your patient scheduling software has to function like clockwork and expeditiously navigate the overlapping needs of your patients, clinicians and staff.
- Patient scheduling systems automate and streamline the process for medical practices
- Inefficiency in scheduling costs medical practices time, money and business that can be saved by implementing a patient scheduling system.
- Keeping patients waiting is one of the main reasons for patient dissatisfaction and for patients switching providers
- To select a patient scheduling system, there are some key questions to ask yourself and vendors to ensure you find the right fit
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The inability to easily handle cancellations and no-shows, automatically track appointments or optimize physician availability can do more than disrupt workflow; the wrong patient scheduling system can drive down patient satisfaction, negatively affect staff morale and result in lost opportunities to increase revenue and grow your business. As part of a practice management or integrated EHR solution, it’s critical to identify the right patient scheduling system for your practice. While not exhaustive, this buyer’s guide gives you an overview of features and functions, primary and secondary considerations, and guidance in the evaluation and selection process of patient scheduling software.
It’s estimated that missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare more than $150 billion a year. On average, each 60 minute open or unused time slot can put a physician back $200. Nationwide, providers have no-show rates between five and 30 percent. Of course, no solution can anticipate every patient scheduling disruption, but you can’t afford to leave money on the table given added pressures that come from rising patient out-of-pocket costs and declining Medicare reimbursement rates. In short, it’s getting more challenging to meet financial targets.
Changing Patient Expectations and New Technologies
Scheduling is increasingly playing an important role in patient care, especially with new expectations and technologies that impact the appointment-making process.
We are witnessing a change in patient expectations as healthcare grows more consumerized. More and more patients are going online to research symptoms and treatments, compare physicians and share experiences (both positive and negative) with review sites like Yelp!, Healthgrades and Vitals.
Doctor’s offices can’t afford to keep patients waiting. A study in the Journal of Medical Practice Management revealed that customer service issues account for 96% of patient complaints, while only four percent are about the quality of clinical care or a misdiagnosis.
While overall patient wait times are in fact decreasing, 30%of patient respondents in one survey said they have left a medical appointment because the wait time was getting too long. Nearly 20% of patients reported changing providers due to long wait times. Healthcare scheduling software can help patients feel heard and cared about in a way that contributes to value-based care.
Technology is another area that is impacting the medical scheduling process. It’s estimated that 88% of appointments are still made over the phone. While a small fraction of appointments are currently self-scheduled, 77% of patients want the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online regardless of time of day.
Some of the areas where technology is playing a big role in healthcare are patient portals, mobile alerts/reminders and third-party patient scheduling where patients can make appointments on an independent HIPAA-compliant site.
In addition, the emergence of telehealth will change patient expectations by reducing the number of unnecessary in-office visits and freeing up time and space to care for patients who require in-office visits. This saves money and time for both patients and physicians.
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top software
Medical appointment scheduling is more than making and tracking appointments; it’s an essential business and administrative tool that impacts each phase of your patient’s experience with your practice. The right software solution can help with the following goals:
Improve Patient Access
|By allowing patients to schedule their own appointments via a patient portal, they are more connected to the process of their care.|
Reduce Patient Wait Times
|Replacing phone and in-person medical scheduling procedures with online portals, patients can schedule appointments at times that are convenient for them. They no longer have to be put on hold or wait in line to schedule care.|
Improve Staff Efficiency and Practice Productivity
|Color-coded time slots, drag-and-drop features and single streamlined software for scheduling appointments make it easy for your staff to get repetitive tasks done quickly and correctly.|
Improve Patient Flow
|Patient scheduling software will often include patient check-in modules so patients can fill out forms before they come to the office, reducing wait time and lobby crowding.|
Improve Patient Experience and Satisfaction
|Patients who don’t have to wait for hours are happy patients!|
Increase Revenue and Decrease Cost
|When no-shows and cancellations trigger alerts, staff and physicians can act quickly to accept walk-ins or rearrange the physician’s schedule to maximize face-to-face time with patients. Clinic scheduling software also reduces the need for front-desk staff hours, saving the practice money.|
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Basic Features and Capabilities
When evaluating the key features and functionality, these are the core modules of most patient scheduling software:
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Advanced Features & Functionality
These features are more advanced, expanded capabilities that not all practices use — and that, therefore, not all patient scheduling programs offer.
Workflow and User Interface
Beyond these primary functions, you need to consider ease of use, speed and accuracy in assessing a software solution’s impact on your workflow and ability to serve your patients.
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Questions to Ask Before You Buy
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Do you need this solution to scale with you as your practice grows?
- Do you want on-premise or cloud-based deployment?
- What is your budget?
- How many physicians and staff members will need access?
- Does your practice require industry-specific modules?
- Do you need any customizations?
Questions to Ask Vendors:
- Can appointments on the medical office scheduling grid be customized and color-coded based on procedure or diagnosis, new or existing patients?
- Is there drag-and-drop and cut-and-paste functionality when making an appointment, changing a time or date or scheduling multiple resources for the same appointment time?
- How convenient is it to retrieve or get a snapshot of contact information, clinical notes and appointments from patients on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Can appointments be screened in one convenient view? Can you see a schedule by room, clinician, location, etc.? Can you customize settings by time increments, appointment reason and patient status?
- Does it easily allow you to attach files to appointments (e.g. JPEGs of X-rays or PDFs of physician instructions)?
- How automated is the solution to help identify slots and avoid conflicts that arise from over- or double-booking and staffing absences?
- Can calendars be customized by practice specialty or multi-specialty, subspecialty, size, and location(s)?
- How will the software perform as your practice evolves and grows? How many physicians can it accommodate?
- How can the solution handle migration from your current solution? How easily does it integrate with your patient portal? Can it integrate with other third-party apps?
- What kind of support and costs are associated with training your staff and getting the software up and running?
- How accessible and readable is the solution when using a mobile device (iPhone and Android) or from a remote location?
- What is the total cost of ownership over the software’s life cycle? What are the costs of upgrades and updates for features? What is the pricing and costs associated with the number of users?
Strategic Practice Considerations
In addition to identifying the key functions and ease of use, also consider the following when evaluating different solutions as part of an overall medical scheduling strategy.
There are a number of different methods to schedule medical office appointments, including time-specified, wave, modified wave, double booking and open booking.
Practice Type (Patient Mix)
The type of practice, patient or services (treatments/examinations) can impact your patient scheduling software needs. Do you have a lot of walk-ins, patients with chronic conditions, elective procedures or regularly-scheduled appointments?
Your practice needs to decide your patient scheduling and call strategy. For example, do you want to group (cluster) patients with similar problems and conditions or create organized triage by scheduling patients by different levels of complexity? What is your process to determine what calls to put through immediately, which calls will be returned and when they will be returned?
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top software
There is no one-size-fits-all patient scheduling system — but choosing one doesn’t have to be daunting. Follow a few simple steps to collect requirements, run them by decision makers and shortlist vendors based on your needs to find the perfect software for your practice.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that is “the best.” Each practice will have different requirements and needs. To get started, download our interactive requirements template to help you identify what features you’ll need in a patient scheduling system.
Identify Stakeholders and Solicit Input
Clinicians, administrators, staff and patients all play a role in the patient scheduling process. Each stakeholder has a different requirement. For the patient, it’s getting an appointment at the desired time and date with minimal waiting. Doctors want their time well managed with minimal gaps between appointments and downtime to maximize their billing and minimize complaints. Nurses and staff want a smooth workflow and to be informed to avoid exam backups and delays. And administrators need to make sure resources are optimized to drive revenue.
Assess Current Performance Vs Practice Goals
What are your current and target key performance indicators in terms of acceptable wait times, patient flows, staffing, revenue growth as well as the priorities of physicians (work/life balance, number of hours, doctor-patient relationships)? How will the software help meet those goals?
Be thorough. Talk to vendor references. But don’t only rely on your vendors’ references, which will likely offer the most positive reviews. Ideally, you should reach out to additional contacts for more information and opinions to get a complete picture of your solutions. To help you in the evaluation process, get our patient scheduling software comparison matrix.
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top software
A medical scheduling software solution will play a vital role in helping automate and streamline the appointment management process. Remember, your solution is only as strong as the team it supports. Regular communication among staff and feedback from patients are invaluable in helping identify areas for improvement and refining best practices. Paying attention to in-house post-visit surveys and third-party review sites can help root out issues before they become problems. And equally important, you need to stay current; software solutions will continue to evolve to make your practice perform more productively. Whether you’re starting a practice or looking to replace your current patient scheduling software solution, SelectHub can serve as your resource to help stay on top of the latest trends, newest improvements and best solutions for your practice.
SimplePractice (also known as Simple Practice) is a software solution used by health and wellness professionals to manage their operations and help provide greater care. This system allows users to access notes, scheduling and billing all in one central place.Many practices rely on this particular system to help with everything from documentation and charting to managing claims. Users can access the software from anywhere and at any time, including on their mobile devices.
Nextech enables specialty practices to automate and streamline administrative processes and workflows. It aims to drive productivity and revenue while complying with laws to enhance the patient experience. It offers several solutions, including EMR, practice management, revenue cycle management (RCM), patient engagement and compliance. Key features include billing, automation, compliance, charting and a patient portal.
QGenda is a cloud-based, automated physician scheduling software. It has a rules-based scheduling style that aims to provide transparency and optimize the scheduling process. It includes automated scheduling, requesting and swapping capabilities, a designated customer success consultant, and much more.Additional functionalities include automated time and attendance, payroll integration, and centralized quick links and landing pages. It offers specialty-specific schedules and serves many types of medical facilities, from private groups to large health systems.
Healow is an online healthcare application from eClinicalWorks. It performs a multitude of functions for the patient, namely scheduling visits, organizing prescriptions, monitoring health charts and more. It also offers account administration features so that users can manage the healthcare of their family and close relatives.
Allscripts is a practice management solution for healthcare organizations of nearly every size and specialty, from smaller, ambulatory practices to larger hospital systems with multiple departments. Health facilities use Allscripts to help with clerical and administrative work as well as the day-to-day operations.Health organizations using Allscripts have noticed an increase in their revenue and traffic. Staff can use Allscripts to manage appointments, schedule staff, and manage billing and payment information. Patient information such as demographics, appointment history and patient notes can also be accessed online.
CareLogic is a web-based electronic health record system designed specifically for mental health and human services organizations. It is configurable and empowers healthcare service providers with a suite of clinical, administrative and financial capabilities including scheduling, intake, treatment planning, service documentation, e-prescribing, consumer engagement, billing and reporting. It can provide better client outcomes using numerous clinical inclusions designed to extend service reach and depth. It also increases staff efficiency as it is integrable with their workflows.
Solutionreach is a cloud-based solution that helps healthcare practitioners improve the patient-provider relationship by scheduling appointments and managing communication in the form of reminders, forms, surveys and feedback. Designed for small to large-sized offices and specialties, it provides a patient-front mobile app to manage operations, foster patient loyalty and build a profitable practice.
RXNT is a cloud-based healthcare solution provider, which was recognized on the annual Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest growing private companies. It offers a full suite of capabilities such as practice management, health records, e-prescribing, patient engagement and billing for physicians and medical billing professionals. It has been designed for time-starved medical professionals as it allows them to handle clinical and practice activities quickly and easily from the iOS and Android apps on mobile devices. The support team is US based and can be contacted via phone, email and online chat.
CureMD is a cloud-based solution that handles a number of a healthcare facility’s administrative and clinical tasks, from appointment scheduling and patient documentation all the way through the billing and payment process. It’s suitable for a variety of healthcare organizations and specialities of all sizes. Users can easily access and update a patient’s medical information as well as automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
Clinicient offers a customizable, flexible occupational speech and physical therapy EMR and billing software. It is an integrated web-based EMR for outpatient rehabilitation therapy practices that offers services like patient registration, scheduling, medical recording and documentation and billing solutions.It lets users manage end-to-end clinical operations in one place. Beyond this, it allows for personalized user profiles. It lets the practice spend less time charting and more time paying attention to the needs of the patients.
PrognoCIS provides both cloud-based and locally hosted systems. It enables general medical practices and ambulatory specialty medical care settings. It has customizable templates, allowing physicians to modify their workflow according to their requirements.It is compatible with all devices and includes telemedicine, Medical Credentialing, e-faxing and texting. It seamlessly integrates with PrognoCIS EHR and allows for quick and easy billing management.
In practice since the year 2000, iSalus serves small to medium-sized businesses operating in the medical space. The company bills itself as an affordable, agile way to manage medical records, practices, revenue and more. The company can provide powerful benefits through its dedicated mobile application, patient portals, telehealth portals, chronic care services, urology neurology treatment IT services, medical billing and more.
Centricity is a software solution by Virence Health designed for ambulatory medical practices. Aims to yield health care that is personalized to each patient’s needs in order to provide more quality treatment and better patient outcomes.A variety of ambulatory clinics use the Centricity practice solution to streamline day-to-day operations and increase revenue. Supported specialties include breast health, cardiology, neurology, ICU, oncology, electrophysiology and more.
WRS Health offers an integrated web-based solution for medical practices. It streamlines clinical, business and patient workflows, allowing doctors and other medical professionals to focus on patient care. It provides customized billing, transcription, bookkeeping and clinical compliance services. It comes pre-loaded with templates for different medical specialties. Initial visits and follow-ups are enabled by content organization and workflow. It has a six-tier EHR content module that has disease templates and global visit templates. It has customizable electronic superbill with ICD/CPT codes for every discipline.
Meditab by IMS is a medical specialist tool built around charting, billing and scheduling. Tailored to fit 40 plus areas of medical specialization, it’s a deployment-flexible option for practitioners seeking the total package when it comes to patient experience and medical charting.It is dually certified and meets the needs of federally qualified health centers and ambulatory practices. It has local professional implementation, training and support services.
hCue is an offline and cloud-based integrated healthcare platform to manage medical records and doctor appointments. It streamlines and manages clinical workflows to boost the efficiency of clinics. It also has a Doctor Appointment family module, thus connecting patients and doctors. It manages doctor appointments, stores critical patient data and connects pharmacies, hospitals and laboratories. The suite comprises EMR, EHR, Clinic Management and Pharmacy Management. It gives doctors an online profile to build their online brand. It integrates with hCue Payments to receive payments for appointments. Its pharmacy management division is AI driven and it helps keep inventory levels low and reduces working capital requirements.
TheraNest helps mental health professionals of both large and small practices organize appointments. It helps users to create and view appointments, sync with google calendar, track attendance, and send appointment reminders via voice calls, email or SMS text.
NueMD is a cloud-based, customizable solution built for a multitude of health organizations. Different medical specialties use it to handle scheduling, billing, health records, reporting and more for a quick return on investment, along with improvements regarding daily operations.
PatientClick is a cloud-based multi-platform suite with an easy to use interface, patient portal and customizable dashboards to manage administrative work and patient care. It supports telemedicine, e-Rx, patient portals, patient scheduling and more. It can be customized to fit the requirements of multi-practice specialties of all sizes, including internal medicine, gynecology, neurology, orthopedics and more. It also offers multi-provider and secure communication tools.
PracticeAdmin provides healthcare providers and medical billers with a full range of cloud-based management and billing software solutions. It helps large and small practices manage and file medical claims efficiently. It also provides third-party billing and coding services. Its billing module integrates with leading EHRs providing users with a powerful platform that coordinates patient data and claims between the platforms.
From Scheduling to e-prescribing and Data Mining to Customizing Workflows, everything is just a click away. MDVision helps you to spend the time where it matters most, building great patient relationships and delivering the quality health care. The complete cloud-based PM EMR solution automatically tracks and manage the performance to excellent business outcomes. MDVision PM assures healthcare organizations a unique value proposition, all are designed to support and optimize your entire administrative workflow into a single cohesive and seamless process.
Because we know you have more important things to do than flip through a calendar. AdvancedScheduling helps speed up processes with recurring appointment, waitlist management, room tracking appointment reminder tools. A faster front desk lets your front office team focus on checking in patients, collecting copays scheduling your clinicians facility to full capacity.
10to8 helps users to better communicate with clients, reducing no-shows, double-bookings and time-consuming admin. It’s a tool that can drive more customers to appointment-reliant businesses, such as beauty and salons, tutors and teachers, sports and fitness, tradesmen and professional services. The cloud app also features enterprise-grade features for volume appointments.
Kareo Clinical EHR is designed for medical organizations, specifically independent practices. It includes a comprehensive dashboard,calendar, patient portal, telehealth capabilities and more. Medical practices use Kareo EHR to increase productivity and provide greater care to patients. It’s used to streamline daily operations, allowing physicians to spend more time focusing on patients. It helps health organizations increase their revenue and treat more patients without sacrificing quality care.
Practice Managers and Medical Billing Company owners are consistently surprised by their PracticeSuite experience - great software at a great price! Tackle all aspects of revenue management from flexible appointment scheduling, to patient self-pay, to complicated insurance billing and denial management. Leverage advanced reporting and dashboards to monitor and improve financial performance.
Appointy is a simple, functional and powerful scheduling software designed to help clients grow and manage their business. Appointy allows users to accept appointments online, send automated email/ sms reminders, integrate with social media and Google Calendar, accept online prepayments, create gift cards,deals, etc. Appointy also allows businesses to create deals, discounts or offers with an option to promote to their existing loyal or new customers through Facebook, Twitter or Emails.
The Branch app is a mobile-first solution that connects employees working on an hourly basis with enterprises. Employees can pick up available shifts within minutes rather than wasting valuable time in search of available shifts. Employees can earn more by working available shifts, collect advance paychecks and plan their finances. It offers modules that bridge the communication gap between hourly workers and companies. Employees can find convenient shifts and can swap shifts in case of an emergency. Its seamless interface reduces absenteeism, saves time and cuts costs.
CLIN1 maintains patient, physician, staff and resource schedules. Coordinates automatically across patients and resources, detecting collisions or conflicts at either end. Automatically checks resource availability with respect to department or individual availability.
Our customizable medical billing software options provide customers with the efficiency needed to run their practice smoothly. The medical billing software we have created was made in an effort to speed up the billing process for many different medical offices and hospital departments and improve entry accuracy in every step. Please click on the links above for detailed features of each area of medical billing software we provide and contact us with any questions you or your office may have.
ScheduFlow is the only cloud based native desktop application that allows you to create, manage, and share calendars and plan appointments with users in one or multiple locations. The software auto-updates itself every time we release new features or bug fixes. One can create unlimited numbers of appointments/calendars, as well as clients and resources. Installs on Windows computers, but schedules are immediately available upon creation for access on any mobile device.
Setmore is a cloud-based solution that helps businesses set up appointments and communicate with clients and staff. It also facilitates booking through several online channels and digital payments for smoother operations. With a comprehensive set of inclusions and robust customer support, it offers a seamless user experience to make the booking process easier. Specifically built for solopreneurs, non-profit organizations and small- to mid-sized businesses, it saves time and accelerates growth.
Sagenda is part of Iteration.info, a Swiss company offering an extensive range of online software innovation coaching services. Sagenda targets a range of businesses, including medical practices, chiropractors, and naturopaths. The software is totally free, without even an upgrade option to a paid version, as Sagenda makes money through providing custom options to large, enterprise clients.
Veribook is an online scheduler that maps itself to the needs of a clinic. At its core, it understands which clinicians should be available to which patients, for which appointment types, at which times. This deep understanding of clinic needs enables Veribook to deliver on the promise of true online streamlined 24/7 appointment creation: reduced administrative load, and improved client satisfaction.
Price & Cost Guide
See the Price/User for the top Patient Scheduling software… plus the most important considerations and questions to ask when shopping.
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