Healthcare - Online Scheduling

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American Sentiment on Online Healthcare Scheduling

Patients, in general, have a positive sentiment around using online medical appointment scheduling services and leveraging them for their comfort. Millennials, in particular, are extremely positive apropos of online medical appointment scheduling. There was no information available on the most common terms/phrases/words that people use when talking about online scheduling for healthcare appointments.

General Sentiment Around Using Online Healthcare Scheduling

  • Patients, in general, have a positive sentiment around using online medical appointment scheduling services and leveraging them for their comfort. As per a recent survey from Intuit Health, 81% of patients would schedule a doctor’s appointment online if they could, and 40% of patients would consider switching providers for online access.
  • As per another survey from Accenture, it was found that "77 percent of patients consider it important to be able to book, change, or cancel appointments electronically."
  • The two important sentiment factors that drive online appointment scheduling among patients include "instant gratification" and "convenience". Most of the patients tend to research online before zeroing-in-on a doctor and the ability to instantly book the one they have chosen after exhaustive research imparts a sentimental feeling of gratification to the patients.
  • In addendum, nearly 40% of appointments are booked after hours, hence the ability to book them based on one's ease and flexibility add on to the convenience factor of the online appointment scheduling sentiment.
  • A sentiment analysis jointly conducted by the Healthgrades and the non-profit Medical Group of Management Association (MGMA), showed that ease of appointment scheduling is among the paramount factors that patients take into consideration while reviewing their medical visit. Almost one-fourth (23%) of patients regarded this as a vital sentiment associated with their medical visit journey.
  • The positive sentiment of patients around online appointment scheduling is further corroborated by the findings of a recent survey quoted by Sagenda according to which the use of online patient appointment scheduling will increase during the next years. In the US, 66% of health systems are likely to adopt medical appointment scheduling software in the future and 64% of patients are expected to use online patient appointment scheduling tools.
  • As per a survey on online booking appointment sentiment by PatientPop, nearly half (42%) of survey respondents averred that they would like online appointment scheduling, instead of scheduling by calling the practice. However, only 17% of respondents currently have the possibility to schedule their appointment online.
  • As per Accenture, owing to the flourishing positive sentiment around online medical appointment scheduling, 986 million appointments are likely to be scheduled independently in 2019 and the value of online scheduling is expected to reach $3.2 billion in 2019.
  • Millennials, in particular, are extremely positive apropos of online medical appointment scheduling. They loathe traditional methods of healthcare and 71% of the millennial population prefers to schedule online and to receive digital reminders rather than by phone contact.
  • Consumers, in general, have strong preference sentiments around physicians who are more forthcoming with their information online. According to recent research from Stax, it was found "that more than 80% of consumers prefer physicians who display available appointments online to those who do not offer such a service, even if the physician with online appointments had lesser availability."

Positive Experiences and Pain Points associated with Online Healthcare Appointment Scheduling

  • Based on a survey and study conducted by NCBI, one of the biggest positives associated with online scheduling from the patient's perspective is the "reduced wait times". Based on global data, in certain hospitals, online appointment scheduling reduced the total average waiting time for the patients to 7 minutes from 98 minutes as they do not need to queue up for the appointments any longer.
  • In addendum, the online appointment scheduling offers convenience, ease of scheduling appointment and flexibility to the patients. This is corroborated by the fact that, based on the above mentioned NCBI study, it was noted that most appointment systems are interfaced with a calendar-like list where patients can browse and select the most convenient appointment time from the available time slots. This is in contrast to traditional appointment systems where patients are only given very limited options of available time slots.
  • One of the other factors that increase patient wait times is "patient no-shows." Online scheduling has been found to be extremely trenchant in stemming patient no-shows and thereby further reducing patient wait-times.
  • In addendum, as per results from individual departments, the US Department of Defense’s health care program Tricare achieved a no-show rate of 2% from online scheduling compared with 8% from phone-based scheduling. The Murry Hill Medical Group based in New York had a similar pattern in the no-show rate: less than 1% of web-based appointments were missed compared with about 8% of phone-based appointments.
  • Moreover, from patients' perspectives, online appointment scheduling provides them with an opportunity to be more detailed and forthcoming in their medical visit reason descriptions as compared to phone appointments where patients might be uncomfortable (e.g. sexual health problems) or unable to vocalize their reason. This, in turn, results in better diagnosis and cognizance of their medical issues.
  • Apropos of the patient pain points, based on the various patient reviews and feedback regarding online scheduling using various platforms, it was found that key pain points are doctors rescheduling online patient appointments, a lack of bonafide information/ disparity in the information provided about the doctors, inapt doctor-ratings, and convoluted booking systems involving multiple details.
  • In addition, doctors not honoring the insurance listed at the time of online appointment scheduling is another major pain point from the patient's perspective.

Words/Comments Used

Research Strategy

Our first strategy was to scour through various surveys and research studies conducted regarding online medical appointment scheduling from Accenture, Pew Research, Intuit Health, Healthgrades, NCBI, PatientPop, among others. Surveys and research studies are one of the most potent sources for the consumer feedback/reviews and hence we tried to leverage these types of sources. While we were able to find information around patient sentiments, various benefits, and hurdle points apropos of online scheduling, there was no information found regarding the most common used terms/phrases/words people use when talking about online scheduling for healthcare appointments. One survey highlighted the most commonly used review terms by patients when describing the overall medical experience, but nothing in particular was found for online scheduling.

Our second strategy was to triangulate the information by going through the reviews and feedback with regard to online medical appointment scheduling posted on portals (such as ZocDoc, LocalMed, LimeLight, DemandForce, among others) and third party comparison sites (such as Carterra, Review Trackers, Software Pundits, among others). The idea was to see if there were any general comments around the ease of online scheduling, the convenience that these platforms provide, and any pain points that patients face while making an appointment online. We would have used the reviews and feedback to identify and compare the most common or most used terms/phrases. This could have been considered representative for the terms used to describe the online scheduling experience in general. However, we found that most feedback was focused on the quality of the doctor and the technical features of the platforms. Only Zocdoc provided some terms reviewers used to describe their online scheduling experience.

Our third strategy was to search specifically through trusted media websites (such as Forbes, WSJ, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, among others) and medical blogs focused on developments in the medical field (such as Health IT Buzz, Science Daily Medical Technology News, Medgadget, The Medical Futurist, among others). The idea was to track if any of these sources had posted verbatim comments from patients on their online medical appointment scheduling and identify repeated terms that could be regarded as "most common", but no pertinent information could be garnered. All the information found was apropos of the best scheduling platforms, the benefits of online scheduling, and how online scheduling is likely to grow in the coming future.
Our fourth strategy was to expand the scope to search for most common used terms by consumers to describe their online scheduling experience in other areas like hotels, beauty clinics, financial services, among others through the above-mentioned sources. Again no pertinent information could be found and all surveys/information found centered around the key consumer preferences, motivations and pain points around each of the services.
The primary reason for the lack of verbatim comments being quoted by any surveys or research in its findings is that such surveys and research studies mostly analyze the various responses and then present analytical results rather than detailed verbatim comments themselves. Due to this verbatim comments are not present across any public surveys found apropos of online healthcare scheduling and thus the most common (based on presence across surveys or any other parameter) could not be determined.