Patient appointments: how can a booking system benefit both pharmacies and their customers?

by | 29/09/21 | Insights

Pharmacist smiling at the camera

The pandemic accelerated digital adoption across all industries, including healthcare and in particular for patient appointments. In fact, McKinsey’s research found that almost 40% of respondents expect digital health services to continue, even after the pandemic has subsided. 

Furthermore, between 40% to 60% of consumers have expressed their interest in a wider set of virtual health solutions such as the “digital front door”, where consumers can get in touch with their healthcare providers across various touchpoints. 

 

The “Digital Front Door” improves the customer experience 

Characteristics of the Digital Front Door - Convenience, Response, Resiliency, Scale

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), there are four benefits to the digital front door: 

  • Scale – Consumers with a working internet connection can access healthcare services from anywhere. Pharmacies offering online consultations and home deliveries stand a chance to capture a wider market, especially since customers no longer need to visit a physical brick-and-mortar store.  
  • Convenience – When consumers can access health services across different platforms and devices, the barrier to booking an appointment with you is lowered significantly. Meeting patients where they are is perhaps the most tactical strategy pharmacies can take to stand out from the competition.
  • Response – As overall capacity and efficiency to deliver service is improved, healthcare providers are able to deliver faster and higher quality responses to customers who need it most. 
  • Resiliency – Pharmacies who choose to improve their overall efficiencies and adapt to this new way for service delivery will find themselves more resilient to the pandemic – both in terms of minimising the likelihood of infections and in terms of building a sustainable business for the long term.

 

6 ways a patient appointment system can benefit pharmacies 

The first step to digital transformation includes building a website and adopting a patient booking system to make it easier for consumers to book your services. Apart from delivering a better patient experience, what else can patient appointment booking systems offer pharmacies? 

 

1. Take bookings 24/7

Your customers are going online to search for your services at all hours of the day. A working parent might only have time to look up a pharmacy offering flu shots after their kids are tucked in bed. Your pharmacy might not be open for them to call in to make a booking when they’re available to do so.

Here, an online booking solution can help time-poor patients book an appointment when they’re ready to do so. This also means that you can take bookings long after your pharmacy is closed for the business day.

 

2. Efficient capacity control 

As we’re still in the middle of a global health crisis, adhering to health and safety guidelines is paramount to keeping our communities safe. Physical spaces like pharmacies and waiting rooms are still required to limit the number of people allowed in to make space for social distancing. 

A booking system allows you to set the number of bookings allowed per time slot, which can improve capacity control. An organised booking system can also reduce waiting times as customers only show up at their appointed times. 

 

3. Managing uncertainty 

While we’re talking about the pandemic, at the time of writing, the supply of COVID-19 booster shots in the UK and Ireland remains uncertain. 

Given that pharmacies don’t know when these booster shots will arrive, a digital waiting list can allow customers to book their shots first. Once the supply has arrived, customers can then schedule a date and time based on priority groups and the number of booster shots available.

 

4. Simplify pre-screening for patient appointments

Many online patient appointment booking systems allow pharmacies to send out a pre-screening form before patients arrive for their appointments. This improves efficiency across the board – from eliminating the need to print out physical forms and storing them in a cabinet at the back of your office, to manually entering patient responses into your database. 

The best part is that responses from these forms can be stored in the patient’s file, easily accessible by your team when they turn up for a consultation or booster shot. 

 

5. Streamline patient records

Patient-centred delivery will be key for pharmacies who want to deliver a great experience online and offline. Keeping up-to-date patient records play an important role as you strive to create outstanding patient experiences. 

With all your patient records in one place, the right booking system can send automated reminders for follow-up appointments such as booster shots or 2nd vaccination appointments and upsell them on other services and products you offer at your pharmacy. 

 

6. Improve overall efficiency 

When you can automate appointment scheduling, automatically send out pre-screening forms, and streamline patient records, you and your team can save a lot of time on admin and focus on delivering excellent patient services. This also promotes efficiency in the back office, when managing patient appointments.

 

Patient-centred delivery will set you apart

At the centre of every pharmacy are the customers and the patience you help. Delivering personalised patient service will be important for pharmacies who want to stand out from the competition to attract new customers and develop loyalty. 

Using the right technology such as HasHealth can help you streamline your “digital front door”, improve internal efficiencies, and offer you the tools you need to deliver better, more personalised services in the future. 

 

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