Managing a clinic or a private practice with the health workforce under one roof is a challenging and complex process. That’s why you need help from the front desk to use pen-and-paper methods to arrange appointments and coordinate seamlessly with the patients. However, with the digitalized solutions growth and smartphone penetration, you can implement a medical appointment scheduling system and offer online medical appointment arrangements. According to a recent survey, 61% of patients said they prefer telemedicine, specifically medical service providers that allow them to book, change, or cancel appointments online. At the same time, it is known that 76% of patients who have used telemedicine would like to continue doing so in the future. Only by automating the appointment process can you ease the burden on your staff. Not only does it help you schedule the patient appointments in a jiffy, but it also allows you to shorten the patient’s wait time, capture more patients and keep your patients satisfied with medical services that will lead to business success in medicine. Sounds impressive, right? Keep on reading!
What Exactly is a Medical Appointment Scheduling Platform?
From its name, the medical office appointment scheduling platform is used to streamline clinical workflow and speed up communication with patients and healthcare providers. Not only does it allow patients to schedule or reschedule appointments in one click, but it also helps you better manage external booking and improve patient wait times in your clinic. In addition to that, you can integrate this system with an electronic health record system (EHR) or an electronic medical record system (EMR) that will help you access and update patient’s medical and health information automatically.
What Problems Can Medical Scheduling Software Solve?
Medical scheduling software addresses a range of challenges in healthcare appointment management.
The key ones are outlined below:
- Appointment management. Appointment scheduling software streamlines the appointment management process, making it more streamlined and reducing the administrative burden on medical professionals.
- Find a Doctor Near Me. Software equipped with a Find the Doctor Near Me feature helps patients easily find and select nearby medical facilities.
- Booking appointments. Clinic appointment management systems allow you to book appointments online. This makes it easier for patients to access care.
- Medical appointment accessibility. The appointment scheduling platform optimizes available slots and provides an efficient appointment management system, maximizing appointment availability for patients.
- No-shows and missed appointments. Implementing reminder notifications and automatic appointment confirmations can reduce missed appointments.
- All-in-one clinic scheduling. Medical appointment tools simplify scheduling for multi-specialty clinics and enable multi-location clinic scheduling.
- Data privacy and security. The software ensures the secure handling of patient data by addressing privacy concerns and complying with data protection requirements.
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) integration. Integration with electronic health records simplifies the appointment process, providing a seamless workflow for both providers and patients.
- Ease of Use. The user-friendly clinic scheduler that comes with the software provides a positive experience for both patients and healthcare providers.
Why do You Need a Medical Appointment Scheduling System?
Unfortunately, long hospital queues are becoming a considerable concern in the medical offices. With that in mind, you can provide your patients with an online appointment scheduling system as a way out to reduce waiting time for arranging appointments. Here you can find some information on why you should have a focus on medical office appointment scheduling system implementation:
- You can offer time slot options so that patients can choose the time that works best for them when booking an appointment.
- You can be sure that every hour is used efficiently.
- The system will send automatic reminders if the appointment is booked to inform patients and healthcare providers about the upcoming clinic visits in advance.
- You can offer more options in choosing the best time for patients to have a consultation that will increase patient satisfaction rates.
As you see, with online scheduling you can improve the quality and productivity of your medical services. Not only does it help you better organize your patient appointment schedules and send appointment reminders, but you can also facilitate quick cancellation of scheduled visits as well.
What’s the Idea of the Medical Appointment Scheduling Platform?
With a focus on delivering a plethora of software solutions in logistics, e-learning, e-commerce, fintech and recruiting, we, at DDI Development, often receive requests to create digital solutions and meet any business needs. It’s no secret that manually scheduling a huge set of appointments and then confirming them by the clinical practitioners is a cumbersome process.
Taking this determining factor into account, many clinics, hospitals and private practices opt for the medical appointment scheduling platforms. Not only can they handle schedules with ease, but they can also send reminders to their patients automatically. Having that in mind, we have introduced a concept of the medical office appointment scheduling system for the UK clinic. Sounds interesting, right? Let’s dive into the details below!
The Development Process of the Medical Appointment Scheduling Platform
Here we have overviewed how the development process was going when developing a medical appointment scheduling software for the UK clinic. Let’s take a closer look below:
When working on the medical appointment scheduling platform, our team consisted of the following specialists:
- 1 Business analyst (BA)
- 1 Project manager (PM)
- 2 UI/UX designers
- 4 Front-end engineers
- 2 Quality assurance engineers (QA)
- 2 Backend engineers
We used Agile software development methodology. We opted for this methodology in terms of the following factors:
- The client’s needs took priority over the requirements in the development plans.
- We adapted the potential project to any changes in the client’s requirements.
- Results were more important than established processes.
- Taking into account key components of agile-driven development, we have implemented 24 sprints during which the development team completed a certain part of the functionality and achieved established goals.
At the very start, a Business Analyst ran a meeting with the client and stakeholders to clarify the problem they were trying to solve using a medical appointment scheduling system. Only by eliciting all the essential information about the business processes, potential users, their actions, location, etc. could we identify key features for the potential medical appointment scheduling project. Based on that information, we defined the roles of the users such as a patient, a doctor and an administrator. In addition to that, we came up with the following features:
- patient scheduling
- patient messaging
- financial reporting and analysis
- calendaring of schedules.
The Business Analyst has created a project specification document that outlines the overall look and feel of the product, as well as a functional specification that defines how the client expects the upcoming medical appointment scheduling system to look and work. Based on this information, Project Manager provided a preliminary estimate to the client and suggested the roadmap for the development process. After its approval, the planned scope of work (the so-called Backlog) was divided into 2-week sprints.
There were 24 sprints and the development lasted 12 months. Before each sprint, the whole team of designers, front-end and back-end engineers, QA engineers reviewed which items or features from the backlog they worked on and committed to some result by the end of each sprint. The team presented the results to the client during demo sessions. When the medical appointment scheduling system was ready and free of bugs, we launched it and collected real-world users’ feedback to polish, upgrade and make improvements to meet the client’s expectations.
Here you will find the technologies that could be used when developing a medical appointment scheduling system.
Here you can find user customization that provides certain privileges and grant access to the system features and functionality. There are three user levels within the medical office appointment scheduling system: Patient, Doctor, and Administrator. Let’s take a look below:
- Patient: a user who can register in the medical appointment scheduling platform; has basic permissions: can schedule/cancel his/her appointments, receive reminders about upcoming appointments, view medical bills, etc.
- Doctor: a user who can view and edit patient charts, demographic info, lab and test results, medical records, appointments, etc.
- Administrator: a user who can manage every aspect of the medical scheduling appointments platform from managing users’ access settings and deleting users from the Admin console to viewing all the aspects of the platform.
Once you register, you are redirected to the Patient Dashboard. Here you will see the main menu that includes the following:
- Medical Bills
- Medical records
In addition to that, you can see the action icons such as notifications, settings, and e-mail in the top right corner of the homepage and check different items in the medical scheduling platform in a jiffy. On the Patient dashboard, the following information such as Photo, Name Age, Date of Birth, Email and Vitals will be displayed.
With the Appointments feature, you can choose a doctor and schedule an appointment online. Once you schedule, an automated confirmation will be sent to you. All the information you can find in the well-structured table that includes the following columns:
- Visit type (urgent/new symptom visit/annual medicare wellness visit/follow up visit/chronic care visit)
- Status (Confirmed/Completed/Canceled)
By pressing the ‘Schedule an Appointment’ button, you can choose a doctor, date, time and arrange an appointment.
With the Reminders feature, you will always be informed about upcoming appointments or changes in the appointment details. Not only does it help you not to miss out on an urgent appointment, but you will definitely not forget. The table on the page includes the following columns:
- Visit type (urgent/new symptom visit/annual medicare wellness visit/follow up visit/chronic care visit)
- Status (No reply yet/ Doctor Confirmed)
With the Bills feature, you can see a detailed list of charges for medical services. All the information is presented in the table with the following columns:
- Visit type (urgent/new symptom visit/annual medicare wellness visit/follow up visit/chronic care visit)
- Status (paid/pending/draft)
Not only can you view the payment information, but you can also print it out.
With the Messages feature, you can easily send messages such as text, audio, images, etc. Moreover, you can edit or delete the content of a message that you have just sent. In addition to that, you can write to everyone in the clinic and get a quick response.
Once you sign in as a Doctor, you will be redirected to the Dashboard page. You can use a search bar at the top of your homepage if you need to find patients or appointments. The action icons such as notifications, settings allow you to quickly check different items in the medical appointment scheduling system. The main menu includes the following:
Let’s take a closer look at each feature below.
With the Calendar feature, you are able to see the appointments you have on your agenda. Not only does it help you stay on track and on time, but you can also be notified of any changes to your event, whether it be a cancellation or a change in venue.
The Appointments feature is designed to allow healthcare providers to view all the appointment requests, type of visit and organize your calendar. Also, you can easily accept appointments before they are added into your calendar or cancel them by mentioning the reason. In addition to that, you can add new time slots for immediate patient scheduling.
Thanks to the Patients feature, you can see all the patients within the medical appointment scheduling system. Here you can find the following information: Patient name, Visit type, Treatment, Phone number, Age. In addition to that, you can search for a patient by name, find new, old or route to check up patients using the filtering option.
With the Wallet feature, you can set up different payment methods and manage how your patients can pay for your services. Not only can you see how many patients have been charged, but you will be able to see the movement of payments. All the information is presented in a table that includes the following information: #, Patient name, Date, Visit type, Amount, Status (paid/pending/draft), Actions.
On the Reminders page, you can find essential information about events. Designed specifically to trigger at a specified time before an appointment starts, you will never miss an appointment. When it’s time, you will receive an automatic reminder beforehand. Moreover, you can change your default reminder settings to choose how much time beforehand you want to receive.
The Messages feature allows you to communicate with the patients and medical staff more conveniently. Not only can you send personalized messages to the person you need, but you can also respond with just a tap. In addition to that, you can chat with multiple colleagues in a group chat that speeds up and improves collaboration and communication among colleagues.
Only by signing in as an Administrator can you be landed on the Dashboard page. All the action icons are located at the top of the homepage. The main menu of the Administrator includes the following features: Calendar, Appointments, Patients, Doctors, Finance, Reminders, Reports, Messages and System Settings. Let’s dive into the details below!
With the Calendar feature, Admin is able to get a quick overview of all appointment details and manage fast and easily. Moreover, all the scheduled appointments are synced automatically. Not only can Admin create and reschedule appointments, but he/she is able to delete them with a simple click.
Thanks to the Appointments feature, you can view all the appointments within the medical office appointment scheduling system. Moreover, you can customize the text you are going to send to your patients and schedule reminders based on your wishes. Not only does it help you cut no-shows and eliminate unplanned cancellations, but you can also provide your patients with great customer experience and drive more revenue.
The Patients feature allows you to view general information and treatment notes and then quickly view them in the patient profile. All the information is presented in the table that includes columns such as #, Patient name, Visit type, Treatment, Phone number, E-mail, Age, Actions. In addition to that, you can search for a patient by name, find new, old or route to check up patients using the filtering option.
With the Doctors feature, you can see all the doctors within the medical appointment scheduling system. Not only can you get all the information about any doctor, but you can also manage them, edit or remove. On this page, you can see the table with the following columns:
- Phone number
With that feature, you can manage the money flow fast and easily. Not only can you track your income, but you can also receive automatic payment reminders once payment is made and make data-driven business decisions. Not only can you track specific transactions, but you can also monitor your business’ financial health as well.
With this feature, you can instantly gain a complete picture and a much better understanding of your healthcare business. On the Reports page, you can see the following columns:
- Appointments scheduled
- Appointments completed
- Total revenue
- Today’s revenue
With that information, you are able to create a data hypothesis and reiterate it. Ultimately, it will grow your business over time.
The System Settings page can be reached from the corresponding option in your main menu. Not only can you set up your own preference - rules and restrictions, but you can also leave default settings if they work for you and there is no need to change them.
Key Features of the Medical Appointment Scheduling Software
Let’s take a closer look at what features medical scheduling software commonly include:
- Patient scheduling: with this feature, you can avoid long patient wait times, enhance patient satisfaction and increase patient growth. Not only can patients schedule appointments, but they can also communicate with their doctors via messages.
- Patient billing: thanks to this feature, patients can pay for the clinic services securely online. Not only can they make transactions anytime, but they will also receive electronic statements from hospitals, doctors or other clinics.
- Reminders: with this feature, patients/healthcare providers can receive automated appointment reminders and confirmations through SMS or emails that allow clinics to save time and money and reduce no-shows.
- Patient messaging: with this feature, you can provide two-way communication. Not only can you notify your patients of sudden office closures or other situations, but they can easily respond to messages that require immediate reaction.
- Financial reporting and analysis: with this feature, you can retrieve and present data in charts, tables, and other visualizations to better understand how your business is going.
- Calendaring of schedules: with this feature, you can keep your staff on track. Not only can you check the free time of the healthcare providers, but you can also schedule meetings with them, and reserve resources, such as conference rooms and equipment.
What are the Benefits of the Medical Appointment Scheduling Software solutions?
Below you can find out what benefits you can derive from the medical appointment scheduling:
- Patients can schedule appointments with a simple click that reduces crowding in the waiting room.
- You can reduce manual tasks by delegating scheduling and billing tasks to the software solution.
- You can accept payments online, get real-time updates on payments as well as cancellations or schedule changes that will keep you on track.
- Healthcare providers can see their daily schedule, visit type and other information at a glance to plan ahead for their day.
- You can quickly and easily verify patient insurance eligibility.
- You can improve practices’, clinics’ or hospital operational efficiency and capture more patients as well.
Pros and Cons of Custom Medical Scheduling System
When it comes to the pros and cons of a custom medical planning system, they are unique to each case. Each business owner who wants to create a medical planning system pursues their own goals and hopes to get their own benefits from its development. Nevertheless, there are common pros and cons of medical planning software development.
Pros of Custom Medical Scheduling System
- The software adapts to your needs: A customized system is built to meet the unique requirements and processes of your healthcare facility.
- Scalability and adaptability are ensured: The system can evolve along with your practice, adapting to new features and increased workload.
- Seamless integration capability: You can easily integrate your hospital appointment management software with existing tools, such as electronic medical records, to optimize operations.
- You will gain a competitive advantage: Having a customized medical scheduling system gives you a competitive advantage. Now you can provide a personalized and efficient user experience for patients and staff.
Cons of Custom Medical Scheduling System
- High development overhead: Creating your own healthcare appointment management system can be costly due to the time spent on development, hiring subject-matter experts, and ongoing maintenance.
- Time-consuming development: Creating a customized solution takes time, which can delay its launch and use in your practice.
- Technical expertise required: To ensure that the development is done correctly, technical expertise is required, which can be challenging for those not tech-savvy.
- Maintenance and upgrades: Ongoing maintenance and upgrades are required, adding to long-term liabilities and extra costs.
How to Choose a Medical Appointment Scheduling Solution for Your Business?
Choosing a medical office appointment system is crucial to any clinic or private practice. That’s why ensuring the effectiveness of the initiative is important at the very start. Practices and clinics should first establish a budget for the software and identify essential features and functionality that will help you deliver the medical services you need and provide your patients with a safe and more positive experience. Moreover, not only should you review your current requirements, but you also need to keep in mind what your clinic will need in the future. Only by documenting your business requirements can you identify areas where a new medical appointment scheduling platform could improve your business processes.
This will help you explain your requirements to potential suppliers or vendors. For example, your staff is overloaded with manual appointment scheduling and you need to delegate this task to the software solution. Also, you need to consider whether you need an on-premise or cloud-based solution. For clinics that need to provide access to the medical office appointment scheduling system from different places, cloud-based solutions are more suitable. Not only can you implement them easily, but you can also schedule an appointment in one click. Moreover, you can find a reliable tech provider and create a medical appointment scheduling system from scratch according to your unique needs and requirements.
Steps to Build Medical Scheduling Software
Let's face it: The proven way to get quality, reliable, and long-lived medical scheduling software is to build it. Below we will cover the steps to take when developing the medical scheduling software you are looking for.
Step 1: Initiate the project and set clear goals
You need to clearly state why you want to create an appointment scheduling software and what you want to achieve. At this stage, you should also find out the needs of healthcare professionals, staff, and patients to ensure that the software meets them.
Step 2: Identify your business needs and do thorough market research
Work with your marketing team to analyze the available appointment scheduling systems on the market and identify industry trends. For best results, engage healthcare professionals to share the ins and outs of appointment scheduling.
Step 3: Plan the software development process
To come up with a comprehensive development plan, you should collaborate with a software development team or hire a project manager with experience in healthcare software development. At the same stage, key features of the medical office planning software should be identified.
Step 4: Build the right team
You need to hire a development team skilled in developing healthcare software solutions. Consider IT outsourcing services and a staff augmentation model to hire engineers for specific positions and get a fully equipped team.
Step 5: Ensure compliance and security
Consult with legal and security professionals to ensure that the software complies with healthcare regulations and ensures data security and privacy.
Step 6. Get involved in the development of a medical scheduling software solution
Ensure software development involves the use of advanced and industry-specific technologies such as FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) and others. Make sure the software supports telemedicine appointment scheduling, allows for virtual consultations, and provides an integrated healthcare solution. All of these technological intricacies are meant to ensure that your system is future-proofed.
Step 7. Test, launch, and monitor performance
Pay attention to software testing. Involve health workers and end users to identify usability issues, bugs, and areas for improvement. It is better to release the software gradually, closely monitoring its performance and collecting feedback from end users for further refinement and improvement.
How Long Does It Take to Develop Medical Scheduling Software?
Medical scheduling software development typically takes 6 to 12 months (or more) due to the complex nature of healthcare systems. Several industry-specific factors can significantly affect the development timeline:
- Healthcare Regulatory and Compliance. Strict healthcare regulatory compliance requires careful planning, implementation, and testing of security measures, encryption, audit trails, and access controls, which significantly increases development time.
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) Integration. Integrating with different EHR systems involves understanding their unique structure and protocols, and ensuring seamless data exchange, which can also take time.
- Telemedicine Integration. Integrating telemedicine features into scheduling software takes time to develop, test, and interact with various telemedicine platforms.
- Medical Device Interfacing. Understanding of device protocols, compatibility testing, and customizing software to work with various devices are required.
- Healthcare Workflow Complexity. Comprehensive analysis, design, and development are required to ensure that the software meets the various workflows.
- Medical Data Processing and Privacy. Robust data processing, encryption, and privacy mechanisms must be implemented to meet medical standards.
- Clinical Decision Support Systems. The development, implementation, and testing of complex algorithms, as well as their integration into software, require specialized expertise and rigorous testing, which affects timelines.
This is by no means a full list of industry-specific factors affecting medical scheduling software development time. Keep them in mind when planning to build medical office scheduling software.
Bottom line: Do You Want to Make Scheduling in Your Clinic easy?
In today’s digital world, private practices, hospitals and clinics continue to improve the patient experience using sophisticated and easy-to-use software solutions. Implementing a medical appointment scheduling system in your practice will help you improve workflow efficiency, capture more patients and remain competitive in the healthcare market. It’s a great alternative to old pen-and-paper appointment scheduling methods. Not only can you provide patients with self-scheduling options, but it will also send automatic reminders to never miss the upcoming or cancelled appointments. We, at DDI Development, have huge technical expertise and can deliver any solution to meet your business needs. Only by developing an actionable medical appointment scheduling platform can you reduce no-shows and speed up the scheduling appointment process in your clinic.