Major Technological Innovations in Healthcare Appointment Scheduling Software
The patient care industry has adapted constantly to changes in technology. Technological innovations broadly impact every aspect of human life, and the medical industry has been no different. Every year, new innovations are arriving that improve the ability of doctors to diagnose, impact how patients are treated, or intend to transform the patient experience. Patient-centered care is a vital component of success in the healthcare industry, and adapting to innovation is a significant aspect of this.
In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, where digital healthcare solutions are becoming normalized, healthcare businesses must be current with technology. Look no further than the rise of telehealth and virtual appointments, which are still used at a 38x higher volume than the pre-pandemic baseline, according to McKinsey, to see the impact of technological innovations on the healthcare industry.
For a medical practice to remain current and appeal to the modern consumer, optimizing the usage of technology is essential. The typical consumer most healthcare businesses will be trying to target is likely highly tech-savvy and invested in having tech be a part of their healthcare experience. Healthcare appointment scheduling software can make a medical practice more appealing to these consumers.
Healthcare appointment scheduling software is a digital technology that improves patient engagement and ensures easier access to appointments. Not only do consumers love these solutions, which simplify scheduling and editing appointments, but they also have various back-end benefits for healthcare organizations. They are a modern tool that has significantly impacted the healthcare industry, improving processes for consumers and businesses.
QLess is the leading healthcare appointment scheduling software with broad benefits in the healthcare sector. While healthcare appointment scheduling software is a major innovation, it is composed of several other innovations that have made it more effective and impactful. Let’s look at these solutions and dive into the major innovations that have led to healthcare appointment scheduling software becoming a must-use tool for organizations nationwide.
What Exactly is Healthcare Appointment Scheduling Software?
Before we dive into the innovations that have defined healthcare appointment scheduling software, we should start with the basics. What is this software, and what does it do? For a long time, setting appointments for the healthcare industry required phoning the health care provider, inquiring about appointment times with the front desk staff, and then picking the best time for you. This got the job done, but it wasn’t exactly convenient. Healthcare appointment scheduling software transformed this by allowing consumers to schedule online at their convenience.
The typical healthcare appointment scheduling software has used a very basic system for years now. Patients visit the website, click the “Schedule an Appointment” tab, and select a time slot that works for them. What is great about this is that consumers now have 24/7 access to appointment calendars. They don’t have to call during business hours to ensure they can book appointments. It increases the accessibility of appointments and ensures customers can use healthcare resources any time of day or night.
However, there are flaws with legacy healthcare appointment scheduling software that have required solutions to evolve. Certain solutions are very rigid, making it incredibly difficult for customers to edit or cancel appointments. This leads to missed appointments, customer no-shows, and back-end confusion. They also can have outdated interfaces that are confusing to navigate and scare consumers off.
That is why the importance of technological innovations in healthcare appointment scheduling software has been significant. A modern healthcare solution like QLess looks very different from some healthcare organizations’ outdated legacy systems. Its features are the product of years of advancing technology, all of which contribute to a more efficient appointment process. Innovations in healthcare appointment scheduling software have led to systems that make managing and scheduling appointments a straightforward process that doesn’t leave customers confused or dissatisfied.
Major Innovations in Healthcare Appointment Scheduling Software
As technology has evolved, so have healthcare appointment scheduling software solutions. What started as a very simple system is now incredibly advanced, offering consumers and healthcare professionals a range of high-impact tools that streamline the pre-appointment process. Let’s look at some technological innovations that have had the broadest impact on healthcare appointment scheduling and how they are implemented into modern-day solutions like QLess’ hospital appointment scheduling software.
Smartphone-Driven Appointment Scheduling
Mobile technology has become a deeply embedded part of our society. While cell phones have been relatively common since the 1990s, smartphone technology has completely changed the world of mobile tech. Consumers worldwide now have limitless access to the internet, meaning people work, communicate, and browse all from their phones. In only the past decade has smartphone technology become completely ubiquitous.
According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2021, up dramatically from the 35% that owned a smartphone in 2011. In just ten years, smartphones went from something just over one-third of Americans had to a highly accessible, extremely widespread piece of technology. Naturally, since consumers spend a massive amount of time using smartphones, it has significantly impacted healthcare appointment scheduling software.
Regarding online booking, many consumers now prefer to schedule their appointments through their phones. According to Zippia, 82% of people use their mobile devices for online appointment scheduling. This is a recent phenomenon, considering smartphone technology has only become so widespread in the past decade. As smartphone technology improved and production grew, smartphone ownership became accessible to everyone. It is now an embedded staple of our society, to the point that findings from the Pew Research Center indicated that 61% of seniors now own a smartphone.
Accessing online appointment scheduling software through a smartphone may feel like something that has been around for a while, but this regular part of everyday life has only been that way for 10-15 years. This innovation has fueled a vast number of people that use smartphones for healthcare appointment scheduling. To match consumers’ demand for this form of appointment scheduling, QLess has a mobile app and a mobile-optimized web browsing version for their mobile users.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
We have all heard the talk recently about Artificial Intelligence, or AI. Software like ChatGPT has shown us that a new age is upon us, one where we can rely on AI technology to fulfill several important roles. AI tech has been around for years, but improvements have been dramatic in the past decade and even the past couple of years. AI technology continues to improve every year, presenting incredible applications across industries. One of the ways this technology is being used is to help control and automate appointment scheduling and queue processes.
With modern healthcare appointment scheduling software, enterprises gain a solution that can automate and manage their medical appointments. This plays out across several aspects of the QLess core features. Enterprises can configure their appointment policies, such as certain kinds of appointments can only be scheduled on certain days, there has to be a specific amount of idle time for employees between appointments, and so on. Then, when customers book appointments, these policies are enforced. As well, the AI technology automatically updates the system when customers change appointments, or anything of a similar nature happens.
QLess also has hospital queue management software that is automated by AI technology. This is an extension of the appointment scheduling features, a way of implementing an appointment calendar virtually. Instead of sitting around in primary care providers’ crowded waiting rooms, customers can schedule appointments and then remotely join a line at the time of their appointment. They can virtually monitor appointment wait times and enter when they are at the front of the line.
AI technology powers these virtual lines, using machine learning to adjust to changes and enforce configured policies. Line policies can include allowing walk-ins for appointments, but only if there are no scheduled appointments at that time. This completely automates and oversees the lineup process.
The impact of AI and automation on appointment scheduling and management is dramatic. Now, enterprises have tools that reduce the required oversight from employees and eliminate human error, leading to a more efficient appointment calendar.
Data Collection Software
In the 20th century, as the healthcare industry flourished worldwide, it remained difficult for organizations to collect and analyze data on their performance. Computers helped change this, with data collection software ensuring that organizations spanning the globe could gather business intelligence into their key processes. But for enterprises reliant on phone-based or outdated computer appointment scheduling systems, collecting valuable appointment information remained difficult and laborious. But with modern appointment scheduling software features, collecting data insights on appointments and patient engagement has never been easier or more accessible.
QLess is equipped with business intelligence features that automatically collect data on several important aspects of the patient experience. The information is stored and reported on the QLess dashboard, displayed in graphs and charts, where it is easy for healthcare organizations to spot significant trends. Some of the information QLess automatically collects includes the average patient waiting time, the number of patients served in a day, employee utilization, and the appointment no-show percentage. The organizational benefits of data are significant, with 64% of enterprises that use business intelligence stating that it helped improve efficiency and productivity, according to Finances Online.
QLess also comes with tools for collecting and storing customer feedback. Enterprises can solicit customer feedback with SMS pulse surveys that are automatically sent to customers after their appointments. The responses are stored on a digital database, where organizations can track patients’ thoughts about their healthcare experience.
The advantages of having objective and subjective data accessible in hospital appointment systems are drastic. With the technology from the QLess healthcare appointment scheduling software, healthcare organizations can now have keen insights into what is working for their business and what isn’t. If the appointment no-show rate is at a harmful level or wait times are highest for specific kinds of appointments, having this data can help organizations take the steps needed to improve. The same goes for customer feedback, where finding out what your customers do and don’t like about their experience is a necessity.
One of the most profound recent innovations in the healthcare industry is the surging popularity of virtual appointments. Virtual appointments and telehealth have had the necessary technological infrastructure available for years, but the biggest development that has made these kinds of healthcare appointments so popular was not based on technology. The pandemic caused a huge spike in the number of telehealth users and telehealth spending. According to the US Government Accountability Office, telehealth spending went from $306 million in April-December of 2019 to $3.7 billion in the same period in 2020.
While the worst days of the pandemic seem to be behind us, virtual appointments and the telehealth industry remain important. This is because many remain uncomfortable in crowds and waiting rooms. According to a 2022 QLess survey, 59.4% of consumers associate congested waiting rooms with unsafe conditions. Pandemic concerns linger, and while virtual appointments are not as utilized as they were at the pandemic’s peak, they are significantly more popular now than before the pandemic began.
Having telehealth and virtual appointments available is a big driver of healthcare success. According to MHealth Intelligence, 53% of healthcare providers say adding telehealth appointments drove up patient visits. That is why integrating virtual appointments into your appointment scheduling features has become essential.
QLess’ appointment scheduling software comes with virtual service features intended to help healthcare organizations improve their ability to offer virtual care for patients. Integrated with software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, the virtual services features help organizations accommodate a virtual calendar. Customers can choose to schedule virtual appointments with the QLess appointment scheduling software and receive a link to a virtual appointment. They can click the link when their appointment is set to begin, enter a virtual queue, and when the healthcare professional is ready to see them, be entered into their virtual appointment.
We live in a new world of healthcare, where virtual appointments are a part of the norm. Managing an in-person and virtual appointment calendar can be difficult, but investing in solutions that ease this process is worth it. Virtual appointments may have surged in popularity due to abnormal circumstances, but they are here to stay.
Digital Communication and Automated Appointment Reminders
In the healthcare industry, the quality of care customers receive partially depends on the level of communication involved. Communication is incredibly important in every phase of the healthcare experience, but it is often left to the wayside in the pre-appointment process. Customers will typically schedule an appointment and not hear from their doctor until the day they show up. It is difficult to ask questions, provide updates, or contact staff without having to phone in. This doesn’t benefit any of the parties involved. That is why the increasing prominence of digital communications is an impactful addition to healthcare appointment scheduling software.
Digital communication with enterprises has become incredibly popular in recent years, as more and more of our communications are done through text messaging and social media. According to a QLess survey, 70.8% of consumers would prefer to communicate appointment details with businesses via text message compared to a phone call. The ease of digital communication makes it incredibly popular with consumers, and enterprises need to accommodate that.
The invention of appointment scheduling software with communication features helps enterprises scale customer communication and meet customers’ preferences for digital interaction. QLess has bi-directional communication features that allow customers and staff to message each other, doing things like providing updates if they are late, requesting additional information, and more. Staff can customize messages or schedule automated ones, ensuring they can connect with many patients simultaneously.
One of the benefits of automated messages is that staff can now schedule automated appointment reminders. Appointment no-shows are a huge problem in the healthcare industry, costing the industry more than $150 billion every year, according to Forbes. With automated appointment reminders, organizations can schedule reminders leading up to the appointment and even require confirmation so customers don’t forget and unintentionally not show up. Communication throughout the appointment process is essential, and technological innovations now enable enterprises to provide the end-to-end digital communication their customers prefer.
Calendar Management Software
A healthcare calendar is typically quite rigid as a necessity. When too much flexibility is allowed, it can become disorganized. Whether it is a primary care appointment or a specialist appointment, when customers set their appointments, changing things around can be difficult. This is because many enterprises use manual appointment calendars or rely on outdated appointment systems. But innovations in calendar management software have enabled enterprises to create appointment flexibility without sacrificing organization, giving them the best of both worlds.
With the smart calendar features of QLess, patients can receive timely access to editing features that enable them to move appointments around. The same goes for staff. If a customer runs late for their appointment and the appointment calendar is filled, they don’t have to lose their appointment. The customer can use the digital communication features to message staff, and they can simply move an appointment up if someone is already there for their appointment and move the customer back.
Similarly, the calendar management features enable enterprises to respond more effectively to customer no-shows. Say a customer doesn’t attend a physical therapy appointment without notifying the healthcare office. With a flexible calendar, appointments can be moved around, and customers can be notified instantly. They can simply move the next person in the virtual queue to the front of the line and remove the absent customer from the queue. There is less dead time, and reacting to change becomes much easier.
Healthcare appointment scheduling software with calendar management features helps lead to more agile, flexible healthcare offices. Rather than having missed appointments or late customers cause delays and bottlenecks in the patient experience, calendar management software leads to rapid adjustments. This technology has recently become more widely deployed in the healthcare industry and is a big driver of increased efficiency.
What Does the Future of Healthcare Appointment Scheduling Software Hold?
Considering the strides made in technology within the last five years alone, it is impossible to predict what the next five years might hold. However, we can be very confident that the use of healthcare appointment scheduling software will only continue to increase. What we don’t know is what technological innovations will spur the development of the software.
Looking forward, AI is likely to play a significant role in healthcare. Artificial intelligence seems like a key component of the future of appointment scheduling, particularly as AI chatbots develop and become more capable. Asking more advanced questions and receiving a more specific answer is likely on the horizon. Virtual appointments will also continue to be widespread as consumers focus on using them for less important appointments that don’t require face-to-face contact, so features that improve these appointments will likely grow in popularity.
Appointment scheduling software has existed for many years, since the early days of the internet. However, technological innovations have led to these solutions looking drastically different today than they did even five years ago. The impact of healthcare appointment scheduling software is significant, extending from improving the patient experience to helping provide enterprises with back-end data. Modern breakthroughs in technology are a big reason for the breadth of areas where these solutions add value.
Those breakthroughs include the mass spread of smartphone technology, which has led to mobile appointment scheduling becoming hugely popular, virtual appointments, data collecting features, improved digital communication, artificial intelligence, and more flexible calendar management. All told, we have now reached a point where appointment scheduling software uses a range of modern innovations to deliver a smoother, more convenient experience to customers and helps healthcare organizations improve efficiency and learn from their mistakes.
QLess has remained on the cutting edge of appointment scheduling innovations for years. While we can’t be certain what the future will hold for healthcare appointment scheduling solutions, the rate innovations arrive at continues to accelerate. This likely means that the future will dramatically improve what is already a highly-valuable healthcare scheduling solution.