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Use technology to make it easier for patients to schedule appointments

Tech company surveys patients who say online experience with doctors’ offices is not great.

A majority of patients say their physicians’ technology is so bad, they would rather skip an appointment than wade through the scheduling process.

Physicians have invested in digital tools that fall short of patient expectations, said they report “What patients really want from healthcare.” San Mateo, California-based automation company Notable surveyed 1,005 patients in March this year and published the findings on Nov. 14.

“Our survey data shows that when care is difficult to access, many patients simply don’t go to the doctor,” Notable Head of Research Carle Falk said in a news release. “People aren’t skipping doctor visits because they’re confused about test results or worried about a procedure. They’re avoiding medical visits because the appointment-booking process is confusing and takes far too much time and effort.”

The company said legacy digital scheduling programs fall short because they require telephone calls and schedule intervention. That process creates patient hassles that limit access because health systems have challenges filling their support services jobs.

Among the findings from the patients:

  • 63% said their provider’s digital tools don’t meet expectations.
  • 61% said they have skipped going to the doctor because of scheduling hassles.
  • 70% of patients tried online scheduling in the past year but were redirected to a phone call.
  • 30% of patients said they have not used digital services in the past year to book appointments, fill out forms, or pay bills.
  • 41% of patients have switched providers due to a poor digital experience.
  • 75% of patients would rather complete intake paperwork online.

Meanwhile, patients reported their waiting times are going up, even as more technology in integrated to streamline visit registration and intake.

Notable recommended a three-step process for physicians, executives, and IT support staff to change their digital interfaces with patients:

  • Complete a current state assessment on current digital tools and how patients feel about them.
  • Start by improving patient intake. Notable said “seamless patient intake is non-negotiable for patients.”
  • Improve patient and caregiver experiences with intelligent automation.

This article was published by our sister publication Medical Economics.