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Report: Online Appointment Scheduling Tools on the Rise

December 11, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Two out of three patients will be booking medical appointments online by the year 2019, according to a new report released by the New York-based research firm, Accenture. 
The research firm predicts that in five years, 66 percent of US health systems will offer online scheduling and 64 percent of patients will be using those services. Currently, Accenture says that online self scheduling services are top heavy. Roughly 40 percent of the top 100 US health systems are offering the services compared to only 10 percent from the rest.
The researchers who authored the report claim that those who use the services will be able to divert most of their appointment volume. Nearly 40 percent of all appointments—or 986 million—will be booked online in 2019. This will give health systems the potential to reallocate as much as $3.2 billion in scheduler capacity in 2019 alone, Accenture predicts. 
The convenience factor is driving the wave of online appointment scheduling. Accenture says it takes one minute to schedule an appointment online vs. eight minutes to do it by phone. With this in mind, those who don’t adopt online appointment scheduling services will be left in the dust, Accenture says.
“Just as consumers use online tools to book restaurant reservations or request a cab, patients want the same experience in self-booking a doctor’s appointment,” Dipak Patel, managing director of Accenture’s patient access solutions, said in a statement. “Evidence also shows health systems can use self-scheduling tools to boost appointment capacity, reduce costs and/or increase productivity.”
Accenture predicts a sophistication of scheduling systems, including integration with the electronic medical record (EMR). This, the company says, will provide more of a seamless experience for the patient. 

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