Issue link: http://viewer.e-digitaledition.com/i/37170
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ PRACTICE MANAGEMENT ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ + ++ + ++ + + Appointments in the Online Age TRADITIONALLY, PATIENTS CALLED A PHYSICIAN PRACTICE TO SCHEDULE WELL AND SICK-CARE VISITS; HOWEVER, NOW THAT SMARTPHONES AND OTHER FORMS OF TECHNOLOGY HAVE BECOME THE NORM, IT MAY BE TIME TO CONSIDER ONLINE APPOINTMENT BOOKING FOR YOUR CLIENTELE. Scheduling appointments online can have many benefits for both patients and physicians. A Reduced Overhead Costs for Physicians With EHRs leading the way, allowing patients to book appoint- ments online can allow for more accuracy and reduce overhead costs overtime. Online programs can also streamline services for physicians who are already comfortable with technology or ready to take the next step. By allowing current and potential patients to schedule online, physicians can also build their practices by making their names, credentials and services available to a wide range of people scouring the Internet. Less Waiting for Patients Just like booking a hotel room or airline ticket online, being able to see what’s available instantly can allow patients to choose what works best for their schedules without having to play phone tag or deal with extensive office phone trees. Patients also have the option to schedule appointments when the office isn’t normally open, whether it’s after hours or on a weekend instead of waiting to be worked in over the phone when they are already in need of care. A Closer Look at Online Scheduling Costs Depending on the type of online scheduling tools physicians invest in, they can pay for listings from booked appointments or even let patients pay for the convenience. For example: + AngelSpeech Inc.’s Angela acts as an around-the-clock scheduler that can speak to patients in multiple languages and send automated reminder calls to keep patients informed. + Doctors Direct Healthcare, Inc. allows patients to search and schedule appointments for a nominal fee. + Health in Reach charges per each confirmed appointment, which is booked through its Los Angeles-based site. To reduce no shows or cancelled appointments, patients must provide insurance information at the time of scheduling. + ZocDoc allows physicians in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago and Dallas to list important information, including their education and professional memberships, any facility affiliations, as well as patient reviews. This listing costs $250 per month, with no charge for appointments. No matter what tool physicians choose, they should consider what type of clientele they are trying to retain or grow, as well as the individual needs of their practices and what fits within their budgets. ■ MDNEWS.COM MD NEWS Eastern Pennsylvania/NW New Jersey | 21 PPROXIMATELY 16% OF family physicians utilized online scheduling software in 2009, a 6% increase from 2005, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.