Report Predicts Big Growth in Use of Online Appointment Scheduling

December 12, 2014 in News

By the end of 2019, about two-thirds of U.S. health systems will provide patients with the option of online appointment scheduling, which will save about $3.2 billion by reducing the resources necessary for scheduling, according to a report released by Accenture, Modern Healthcare reports (Tahir, Modern Healthcare, 12/9).

Details of Report

For the report, Accenture conducted a survey of the top health systems in the U.S. by revenue to determine their online appointment scheduling capabilities.

Researchers then compared the data with health care associations and reports published by third parties to forecast the future capabilities of health systems (Accenture report, 12/9).

Current Online Scheduling Capacity

The report found that 40% of the top 100 U.S. health systems by revenue and 10% of smaller U.S. health systems currently allow patients to schedule their own appointments online (Baum, MedCity News, 12/10). Among all U.S. health systems, researchers found that 11% allowed patients to schedule appointments online, with patients electing to do so for 2.4% of appointments (Rizzo, Becker’s Health IT CIO Review, 12/10).

Further, the report found that it takes about eight minutes to schedule appointments by phone and that patient calls are transferred 63% of the time — below the standards of other industries for handling calls (Modern Healthcare, 12/9). By comparison, it takes patients slightly less than one minute to schedule an appointment online, according to the report (MedCity News, 12/10).

Future Online Scheduling Capacity, Benefits

The report predicted that 66% of all U.S. health systems will provide patients with the option of scheduling appointments online by the end of 2019, and that 64% of patients will elect to use the technology (Modern Healthcare, 12/9).

The researchers projected that would equate to 986 million appointments being made using online self-scheduling tools in 2019 (Accenture report, 12/9).

Researchers said that the increase in the use of such tools could deliver significant cost savings to health systems because of the benefits of online scheduling, including the ability to:

  • Improve in-system retention of patients (Modern Healthcare, 12/9);
  • Integrate scheduling services with patients’ health records to provide a better patient experience (Accenture report, 12/9);
  • Provide last-minute hospital appointments and reduce extra capacity;
  • Reduce resources dedicated to call centers and other patient scheduling expenses; and
  • Shorten patient check-in time (Modern Healthcare, 12/9).
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