Survey Says…Online Scheduling Helps Take Guesswork Out of Boosting Patient Acquisition & Recovering Revenue

June 29, 2020 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Viewers of the American game show "Family Feud" are familiar with the host's catchphrase, Survey says. For those of you less familiar, participants are asked to guess others' answers to a survey question. Then they wait expectantly to find out if they will hear the ding of a correct answer or a buzzer indicating an incorrect guess. We're about to play our own virtual game and review some recent survey findings, but first, a little bit about our survey.

An April 2020 online survey by William Blair Equity Research invited participants to answer a brief questionnaire on topics ranging from how the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected their medical appointments, how they plan to adjust their behavior to respond to these effects, and whether or not they believe these adjustments will be permanent. Responses came from more than 530 consumers from across the United States—with a fairly even dispersion among age cohorts and geography.

The survey also assessed how consumers' expectations and future demand could vary based on age cohorts and other demographic characteristics, which indicate a need for savvy operators to respond differently depending on their core customer base. Together, these viewpoints and this data can be extremely beneficial for health providers looking to gauge the potential rate of appointment volume recovery post-pandemic.

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Okay, now it's time to play…

Survey says: Almost three-fourths of respondents intend to reschedule their canceled visits at some point in the future—indicating a healthy backlog of appointment volume.

According to the survey, the outstanding medical appointments most affected by the pandemic were primary care and dental visits (both at 24%) for either the respondent or their dependent. The vast majority of respondents who canceled or postponed their visits intend to reschedule these visits in the future (at 71%).

Survey says: The vast majority of respondents still need an appointment.

The survey also revealed this positive note for providers: only 5% indicated that their issue was resolved and, thus, they no longer require an appointment, meaning the vast majority will need to reschedule. This should drive a solid rebound in appointment volumes as COVID-19 fears and related regulations abate.

Survey says: Scheduling preferences are balanced between online and phone.

While 44% of respondents prefer to book their rescheduled appointments by calling the office, a nearly equal percentage (40%) prefer to book appointments digitally on their smartphone or through an online portal. Providers that adopt consumer-centric online scheduling, intake, and check-in solutions are better positioned to recapture lost volumes in the future.

Survey says: Age impacts scheduling preferences.

When asked "How would you prefer to book your future visit?" responses and preferences varied by age cohort. The oldest segment (65+) overwhelmingly prefers to call the office to reschedule a visit. Conversely, younger cohorts overwhelmingly prefer digital booking solutions, like smartphone applications or online portals. Interestingly, consumers in the 25 – 34 age cohort were split almost evenly between the two methods, showing a dichotomy of preferences even within the same segment. The savviest health providers will assess their current customer base to ensure they have the appropriate technology in place to meet consumers' expectations.

Add all these survey findings together, and here's the big takeaway: The pent-up demand for appointments—and diverse consumer preferences for both phone and online options--could place a strain on health systems and practices without robust  online scheduling solutions like Stericycle's Intelligent Scheduling.

Enter Stericycle Intelligent Scheduling

Stericycle Intelligent Scheduling is the only solution that combines the best of human communication and a convenient, online self-service experience to help patients schedule, confirm, or reschedule appointments in the right venue of care and channel of choice.

Stericycle Intelligent Scheduling offers:

  • Best-in-class physician search capabilities, including the ability to search by location, appointment type, insurance accepted, and appointment date or time range, and the ability to filter results by clinicians taking new patients, provider gender and languages spoken.
  • Cloud-based and convenient online self-scheduling across all venues of care (emergency, urgent care, physicians, specialists, and telehealth) — and is the only scheduling solution that offers the ability to book appointments across all these venues.
  • Professional and caring live voice scheduling for consumers who prefer scheduling appointments by phone.
  • Triage capabilities to guide patients to the proper venue of care which improves patient access while reducing your cost to serve and emergency department overutilization.
  • Emergency department and urgent care check-in to notify health systems of patients' arrivals—an especially valuable feature during the pandemic.
  • Robust reporting and analytics with insight into patient demographics, volume, and new patient mix as well as which online channels and ads are driving the best results.
  • Integration with most EHR, CRM, and revenue cycle management systems for optimal efficiency, fewer errors, better coordination of complex care flows, and greater scheduling accuracy.
  • API availability for complete control over the online booking experience, using Stericycle's scheduling engine to drive integration, data flow, and analytics in combination with a health system's own user interface and specialized scheduling solution.
  • Deep branding customization via the administrative console to easily incorporate logos, color palette, and other assets to match health systems' existing brand identities.

Stericycle's HIPAA-compliant and mobile friendly Intelligent Scheduling solution is simple and convenient for patients to use while delivering the power, flexibility and scalability growing health systems need to fill schedules, reduce no-show rates, and improve access to all venues of care.   

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Source: Covid-19 Consumer Survey: Vet, Dental, PCP, Dermatology, Urgent Care, and Eye Care: Current and Future Consumer Perspectives, William Blair Equity Research, April 2020

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