In the competitive healthcare market, everybody needs online presence—beginning with your website and Google listing, and rounded out with social media. But with consumers tapping into tech to get information before making decisions, an online presence isn’t enough. It’s what you do with it that matters.
Ensuring your patients can save their spot in line—online—is one big way to engage. Accenture recently found that 64 percent of patients are expected to book medical appointments online by the end of 2019. Not only does online appointment booking improve patient satisfaction and the user experience, it also boosts appointment capacity, reduces cost, balances patient volume, and increases productivity.
Urgent cares and medical facilities have a few different software options to streamline online reservations, and the way these solutions integrate with your website and current software differs. Each solution offers unique benefits and weaknesses, so choosing the right one for your medical facility depends on your specific needs.
Healthcare Marketplace – Pairing Patients with “Best Match” Provider
A healthcare marketplace solution is similar to eBay or Open Table. Just like eBay, when patients pull up the healthcare marketplace website and search for a healthcare facility near them, they receive a list of marketplace partner providers (sellers) in the area, along with pricing, and an estimated wait time at each location. Patients compare you to other providers, and make their choice. If you’ve spent your marketing dollars well, established a strong brand, and are known as a trusted provider, you have a much better chance of being the chosen clinic.
This solution is beneficial for patients. It offers transparency into pricing, wait times, reviews, and distance from their address. It also establishes a level of trust between patients and the medical facility.
With this solution, healthcare providers can market to a completely new audience by allowing the software provider to do the heavy lifting. At times, it can help with brand awareness and visibility in the market as well.
The downside is you’re marketing and sending traffic to a third-party website where providers have to compete head-to-head with other providers who use this same software. Patients have transparency into pricing and wait times not only for your clinic, but for competing facilities using the same software. This increases patient loyalty to the software provider, instead of your facility. When you are marketing this add-on service in your facility, you are actually offering free marketing to other healthcare providers using the service at the same time, while losing out on any branding opportunities that arise from people visiting your actual website.
With the marketplace option, you have to trust that your patients have heard of the software provider and are using it to book appointments with you on its website. If the software provider is not well known in the area, there isn’t much upside for your business.
If you’re looking to collect any data on your market, you’re out of luck. Since customers have to book appointments through the software provider’s website, you don’t have access to valuable data such as how the customer found your website and other demographic information entered into appointment forms.
Finally, you have to comply with the software company’s terms and conditions, look and feel of their website and format, and how they provide one “best match” clinic for the patient, which may not be your clinic.
Healthcare marketplace solutions can be a good choice for urgent cares who want to add online appointments without making any changes to their own website, and don’t mind competing with other clinics in their market. For clinics that want more control over their own platform and marketing spend, there is another option.
White-label Solutions – Engaging Patients on Your Website
If you’ve considered adding online reservations to your website but aren’t convinced you have the expertise or resources to build a custom online appointment platform, a white-label solution may be a good option. “White-label” refers to a fully supported solution that’s made by someone else, but available to other companies, allowing the buyer (that’s you) to customize the software with its own brand, logo, and identity.
A white-label solution can offer more than just online appointment booking, including options for online queuing that can be added directly to your website. When patients find you through an online search and go to your website, they will see a button to save their spot in line and also see the current estimated wait time. Patient queuing software integrates information for both online appointment setters and walk-ins for accurate wait time information.
White-labeled queue management software is ideal for patients who are loyal to a specific healthcare facility in their area or those who find their healthcare provider through a quick search on Google (“urgent care near me”). If the facility has multiple locations in the same city, patients can easily view all their wait times on one screen and choose either the closest location or the one with the shortest wait time. Since this solution is specific to your clinics, patients also won’t see competing medical facilities in your area with comparison wait times and pricing. Once patients find you, there’s no reason for them to leave your page.
Data is becoming increasingly important to run a successful business. Hosting the software directly on your site allows you to capture all the customer data you want. Since it’s often customizable, you can get specific information from your patients to create your own database, target your market, or build reports to help you grow and better serve your patients’ needs.
With a white-label solution, you have a competitive advantage over other facilities in the area and can easily spread the word about this service in your waiting room, online, or by word of mouth. Best of all, you use your marketing dollars to promote your own website—versus a third-party vendor’s—and send patients straight to it, where you engage with them, share information, and collect data to help you deliver a better experience. No detours. No extra clicks. No brand sacrifice.
Which one should you choose?
The end goal for clinics using either option is the same—to increase transparency and improve the patient experience. The right software solution depends on your facility’s specific needs. If you want more patients quick and aren’t as concerned about branding or competition, you may want to choose a marketplace solution, at least until your goals change. On the other hand, if you are focused on long-term growth and success and building a strong brand, consider implementing an integrated queuing solution into your website to maintain brand loyalty and improve patient satisfaction today, and into the future.