“The goal is to make sure you are meeting the patient with whatever their preference is,” Diane Pleiman, president of Premier Physician Network, said.
She said they also have doctor appointments for online scheduling but also have some hospital services like imaging with online scheduling. She said phone is likely still the most popular choice but online has increased.
“We have lots of different generations of consumers out there. Some like to make the telephone call and talk to a person and some prefer to do everything electronically and others like a mix. We just make sure we have available whatever our patients and consumers are asking for,” Pleiman said.
Small studies indicate direct scheduling is linked with lower patient no-show rates.
A study published in August of the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the characteristics associated with the online medical visit scheduling and found patients that were early adopters of direct scheduling were more often young, white, and commercially insured, had more co-morbidities, and higher prior utilization, compared with non-adopters in the same practices. The study looked at an academic medical center with 17 primary care sites covering more than 65,000 patients.
Having the option of online scheduling can attract patients looking for convenience and reduce administrative burdens by having patients schedule themselves.
Thomas Campanella, health care executive in residence at Baldwin Wallace University, said patients scheduling their own appointments might help providers more efficiently use their administrative resources.
Competition has also increased with outpatient care, as hospital groups compete not just with each other but also with apps, national specialty chains and more.
The option of online scheduling could help with staying competitive, Campanella said.
“The outpatient arena is becoming more and more competitive, not just between hospitals but from lots of different entities,” Campanella said.