Are you having reservations about an online booking system for your dental practice?
You’ve been wanting to implement online scheduling software—after all, there are more than 72 million Millennials in the U.S., and this group expects the convenience of booking appointments online. (And Gen Z is catching up fast; more than half of the U.S. population is now Millennial or younger.)
But dental practices like yours have very real fears that keep them from supplementing their phone scheduling with an online system. Will web-based booking even work with a complex practice like yours? Will it reveal more information than you want patients to know?
In short, you worry: will it make things harder instead of easier?
Here, we bust the top four objections we hear from dental teams about implementing online scheduling—so you can confidently serve your patients in the way they prefer.
Online Scheduling Objection #1: Patients who schedule an appointment online will have higher no-show rates.
This fear makes sense on the surface: people probably feel more accountable to another human being than they do to a software system. Who among us hasn’t signed up for a webinar and then not shown up?
But dig deeper and we discover this fear is unfounded. A 2019 study in the Journal of Medical Systems showed that when clinics used an online appointment scheduling system, the no-show rate plummeted from 25% to 11%. And in a 2017 review of the research, the Journal of Medical Internet Research reported that:
- Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center reduced no-shows by 40% after implementing an online system that let patients take control of their appointment scheduling.
- When the Department of Defense’s healthcare program started using web-based scheduling, their no-show rate dropped to an incredible 2% (compared with 8% for phone-based scheduling).
- The Murray Hill Medical Group in New York had similar results: their no-show rate decreased from 8% to a stunning 1%.
So online appointment scheduling doesn’t just not increase no-shows, it actually decreases them—by a lot.
Online Scheduling Objection #2: The scheduling process in our practice is too complicated. An online booking system will just cause more complications.
Like you don’t have enough going on…an online scheduling system will just add to the chaos. Right?
Not if you choose the right online scheduling platform. A non-customizable system that you simply layer on top of your existing systems and processes is indeed likely to create more problems than it solves. But some systems, like Smart Scheduling by YAPI, are fully customizable and built to work around your practice’s unique scheduling process.
Implementing any new technology, especially in a large dental practice, can be complicated. One way to ease the transition, according to Patient Engagement HIT, is to take a slow adoption approach where you introduce the new technology to one department or office at a time. This lets your provider work with each unit individually to customize the system to their needs, answer questions, and help them overcome challenges.
Online Scheduling Objection #3: We don’t want our schedule out in the public for everyone to see.
This objection stems from two common fears:
- If a prospective patient sees a lot of open slots stretching out into the future, it looks like your practice is not successful.
You’re right to believe that customers shy away from businesses that seem empty. In fact, researchers discovered that when tourists arrive in a new city, they’ll pass by restaurants that are empty in favor of those with longer wait times. That’s because people use wait times to learn information. If there is a line, they reason, it must be good. If it’s empty, it must be because the business is second-rate.
- If there are not many available slots, prospective patients may quickly give up hope and move on to a practice that has more availability.
Even if a busy roster makes a business look more successful, there’s only so much waiting that people want to do—especially when it comes to making an appointment to treat a medical issue.
It’s like you can’t win, right? It looks like you’re either too busy or not busy enough. And patients make scheduling decisions from this information even if they’re not based in actual fact.
The good news is that you can skip over this issue entirely.
First, when patients use online booking, about 26% choose same-day or next-day slots. This means that these patients will fill up slots that have gone unclaimed, so you don’t have the problem of “looking empty”—and that they won’t even look far into the future, assuaging your fears that they’ll be turned off by whatever they see there.
Second, some systems, like Smart Scheduling by YAPI, offer you full control over what you display on your online booking system.
Online Scheduling Objection #4: We might not take the patient’s insurance. If they schedule online, it will be a waste of time.
There’s probably no better way to frustrate patients—and your staff—than by allowing patients to go through the entire booking process, only to discover in the end that your dental practice doesn’t take their insurance. This wastes time and can result in negative online reviews.
This is a valid fear with some online booking systems. (Not to mention, it can happen with phone bookings as well, if your team sets the appointment first and then asks for insurance information.)
But other platforms, like Smart Scheduling by YAPI, solve this problem by allowing you to require details like insurance information prior to booking. This method ensures that you’re only gaining qualified new patients. The patient can view your accepted insurances, select their provider, and provide proof by uploading a photo of their insurance ID card or entering in their plan details. This way they can arrive for their appointment all set to go!
Ready to see how the right online scheduling system can save time, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce no-shows—for even the most complex dental practices? Click on the button below for more info!