Acupuncture Clinic Marketing

Acupuncture Marketing and Advertising

Do You Use Online Appointment Scheduling?

· Read 9 Comments Or Contribute Your Own

It's not too late! If you aren't already signed up to have up-to-date marketing information delivered directly to your inbox, do so here:


Two of my website clients are using an online appointment scheduling system.  I’m looking into having it integrated with our website service.  My concerns:

  • Are conflicting appointments ever a problem?
  • How easy is it to use and maintain?
  • What do you find annoying or wish to change?
  • Any “gotchas” to watch out for?

I want to make sure I find the right system, so any advice is appreciated.  Thanks!

Tags: Resources

Want to be emailed when new comments occur?
Subscribe here:

 

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa // Jan 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I know a few acupuncturists who use the online scheduling. I never have as I still prefer the personal touch of having myself or my receptionist talk to my patients. Our world is turning increasingly impersonal and I’d rather limit that as much as I can. When I have to book an appointment, I don’t feel completely secure that the first appointment I make with a new person online is secured, so I often feel like I should call in and double-check just in case. The downside is that having a receptionist is expensive.

  • 2 Jeanette // Jan 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    We are using the online scheduling tool My Receptionist, and I really like it. We have the option of forwarding our calls to their call center for scheduling as well as being able to schedule ourselves or have our patients schedule online.

    We have an office of 5 people, and we have not had conflicting appointments because we keep our entire schedule on this system. We can also merge the appointments into an outlook calendar. The only problem comes in when people forget to put an appointment in the schedule. Also, we find that we end up making most of the appointments when people have finished up at the office, so we have a little more control, but it is nice and easy for people to change their appointments or set something up if they do not have a calendar with them.

    The initial set up takes a little time, but the people at My Receptionist are very good about answering questions, and even contacting me for things that they see as potential conflicts in set up. Using and maintaining it is very easy.

    In the program, it allows you to gray out times that can easily be opened if you would like to open them up for scheduling. This part for me can be slightly cumbersome, but I may not be using it correctly.

    The only “gocha” is that if people are scheduling themselves they will pick the time that is best for them vs. the next slot on your schedule so if you have a day that is pretty open you may end up with a 10am appointment and then nothing until 6pm when you would have made them closer together if you were taking the appt. by phone. The other thing is that if people schedule themselves, they may leave you a 15 minute or half hour gap in your schedule.

    All in all I really like the program, and since I work out of 2 offices, I like that I can access it from the internet and always have my schedule. Also, the program sends out a reminder email to the patient 24 hours before the appointment. This has been great, and my patients really like the reminder. On-line scheduling is a thumbs up in our office.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have other questions about it.

  • 3 Ben // Jan 8, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I’ve been using a service called Genbook.com for online appointments. The great thing it is FREE. You can also sign up for the paid version which will give you some more functionality. So far it has been working great for me (I’m using the free version). Whenever someone schedules it will show up on your calendar and you will also get an email (and in the paid version a txt message on your cell if you’d like). All my practitioners also get an email in their mailbox if someone schedules for their services.
    No double booking issues so far. Hey, if you want to try out online booking you might as well do it for free.

  • 4 Robin // Jan 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Like Jeanette I also use My Receptionist to allow online appointment booking and I LOVE it! She did such a great job describing the service. It’s very easy to use. You get e-mail notifications when patients schedule or change appointments. There is a waiting list feature to alert you if a patient wants a particular slot that is closed.

    When I’m out of the office it’s difficult for me to answer the phone and have a professional conversation with my 2 year old and 5 year old boys talking or screaming in the background (the second you pick up the phone…). In addition to the online service my patients can get a live receptionist 24/7 which some of my older patients truly appreciate. Having 24/7 availability has allowed my practice to grow because it is easy to make an appointment to see me.

    A lot of my new patients book their first appointment online. That was a little weird at first, but I make contact with them and check in to make sure that its a good fit.

    The other nice feature has helped me tremendously is the confirmation calls and e-mails. Many of my patients appreciate the e-mail reminders and mention it at their appointments. For those that don’t have e-mail and for new patients I have one of the receptionists call and confirm. As a result, I hardly ever have a no show or last minute cancellation.

    I’ve never had any double bookings although I have had a couple patients that didn’t get all the way booked in the calendar. I think that is mostly operator error, but still not good when two patients walk in for the same appointment.

    The downside:
    1) The live receptionist feature is a little costly, but it is still considerably cheaper than hiring a full time receptionist. You pay an additional monthly fee plus .85 per minute for each call they take or confirmation call they make.

    2) Patients can call the receptionists and cancel their appointments without offering an explanation, although that has rarely been an issue.

    Overall I love My Receptionist and think its a great option for practitioners can’t afford to hire their own full time receptionist!

  • 5 Benjamin Arnold // Jan 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I know of a successful practitioner who has used it for years now and he loves it. He has no complaints. I believe this one is Appointment Plus.

    IMO, the important thing is not so much the “personal” as much as people being taken care of. Too often we use things like email and automated processes to neglect our customers when really it should enhance their experience.

    I believe automation (eg: booking airling tickets fast and easy online) is an asset, not an excuse. Therefore, make email a rapid response, not slow. Make sure it is an easy to use automation, not annoying. Make sure there are back up processes just in case- like a number they can call if all else fails.

    I’m not entirely sure people mind what sort of medium they are using as long as they are convinced they have been heard completely and efficiently.

    Just my two cents. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I can afford a person, but I doubt it. ;)

    Benjamin

  • 6 Burton Kent // Jan 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Benjamin,

    I agree, and like the way you put it. It’s a convenience. Problem is when people don’t check their email. (This goes for contact forms too).

    One client is using the free genbook version, which only emails about new appointments. We’ve set it up so that it will both email her and text her phone when she gets a new appointment.

    Burton

  • 7 Kim Knight, LAc // Jan 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Burton,

    I’ve used http://www.flashappointments.com for over a year now. I really love it! My patients in particular love it because it means they can make appointments whenever it is easy for them.

    They are cost effective, consistent and easy to use. I was able to integrate it right into my site so that it looks native, and they send out reminders that are easily integrated into iCal and Outlook.

    Feel free to check it out if you like at: http://www.tensegrityhealth.com/appointments.html

    If I find appointments by Burton, I’ll just delete them, unless of course you plan to come to P-town and enjoy some good acupuncture and Portland hospitality!

    Best!

    Kim

  • 8 Amy Galvan // May 30, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I use http://appointmentquest.com/ recommended by another acupuncturist, and I like it better than the others mentioned, for my purposes. It has plenty of bells and whistles packages starting at $7/mo. The free online services I saw didn’t work for my patients who like to book a series of appointments, or far in advance.

    I always call first time patients, but once patients are established they can book online. For patients who find it an inconvenience, I just set up their next appointment(s) at the end of their current office visit—I just go online instead of get out an appointment book.

    Aside from the convenience for me and my patients, it drives visitors to my website to schedule, which helps my SEO rankings. That’s an added bonus!

  • 9 Andrea Clow // Mar 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    I have a lot of insurance patients and am getting more from beingn on Provider lists. Is there anything out there that will take down the insurance information so that I can verify it before their first apt?