Online appointment booking is a boon for millennial patients

For today’s tech-savvy consumers, patient-centered care begins before they step foot in the doctor’s office, hospital or clinic. It starts with the patient scouring the web for supplier reviews and ratings. But until recently, online options for making appointments were scarce.

This is unacceptable to impatient consumers today. “Millennials don’t even want to pick up the phone,” said Travis Moore, senior vice president of market solutions for Kyruus, a company that makes software to schedule and match patients to providers.

Providers are responding by partnering with online planning services. This is a boon for both patients and providers, as the former experience shorter wait times and the latter improves efficiency and patient satisfaction.

But the practice is still not widespread. About a fifth of appointments were self-scheduled in 2016, according to Accenture, up from 9% in 2015. There is also evidence that many providers are slipping back on wait times. According to a 2017 survey by Merritt Hawkins of physician offices in 15 major cities, the average wait time for a new patient is 24 days, up 30% since 2014.

All of that may soon change. “Consumers expect the simplicity and convenience in healthcare that they get from other industries,” said Brian Kalis, general manager of digital health at Accenture.

By 2019, the consulting firm predicts that 64% of patients will make appointments digitally in US healthcare systems, up from just 34% in 2016. The firm also predicts that all of the top 100 US healthcare systems will provide one. digital self-programming.

For some, this is already a reality. Each month, 6 million patients use Zocdoc, an online scheduling service launched in 2007. Providers pay a subscription to be listed on Zocdoc, which then syncs with their practice management software, finds appointment availability and, in some cases, writes appointments directly in their calendars.