Is Your Appointment Booking System Ready for the 21st Century?

June 1, 2014

by Kris Rusch

Kris RuschScheduling medical and dental ap­pointments can be a source of frustra­tion for patients and providers alike. Patients often complain of long lags between the time they realize they need to see a practitioner and the date of the next available appointment. For people wanting to see specialty care pro­viders, the next available appoint­ment can be months away. Healthcare providers may also experience frustration about the administrative time it takes to book, confirm, cancel, and reschedule patient appointments, particularly when last-minute cancellations leave openings in their appointment books.

A few innovative companies have stepped up to offer solutions in the form of real-time scheduling sys­tems. They have become to medical care what OpenTable is to dining: a convenient way to find a local healthcare provider and confidently book an appointment, often for the same day.


Real-time medical scheduling sys­tems share some basic features. They allow consumers to search on­line for a provider using whatever filters are important to the patient at the moment: a particular physician, medical specialty, location, or avail­ability. At a minimum, consumers can view the days and times that a provider has an opening, the pro­vider’s degrees and other credentials, and a map of the practice location. In many cases, consumers can read reviews from other patients who have seen this provider. After their visit, patients can contribute com­ments themselves. (The real-time medical scheduling systems dis­cussed in this article take care to invite feedback only from patients whose visit to the physician has been verified.) Equipped with this infor­mation, consumers can book an ap­pointment directly, free of charge, without having to call the provider’s office only to be put on hold. Real-time scheduling is especially useful for people who would like to make appointments outside of normal business hours. Such services help physicians fill available appointment slots while helping patients access timely healthcare, which improves outcomes.

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