Choosing the Best Medical Appointment Scheduling Software
Medical appointment scheduling software is a significant investment for health systems and medical practices. Choosing the right medical office scheduling software can improve patient access, save staff time, and grow physician revenue. We will walk through the key tenets to consider when selecting best in breed software.
Security: HIPAA Compliant Scheduling Software
The best appointment scheduling software must be HIPAA Compliant. If a medical appointment scheduling software isn’t HIPAA Compliant, nothing else matters. The vendor must sign a Business Associate Agreement. We highly recommend that the health system have a standard BAA that all vendors must sign. We recommend checking out this article in Becker’s for other helpful standardization tips for health systems looking to innovate.
Most health systems we’ve worked with have their own security assessment documentation. However, if you do not, The Department of Health and Human Services has you covered. Their Security Risk Assessment tool that helps health systems and small practices identify HIPAA Compliance in medical office scheduling software. It’s a lot of paperwork, but having vendors fill this out not only gives you the legal answers you need, but also forces vendors to check through their security framework.
Integrated Medical Appointment Scheduling Software
Medical office scheduling is complex. One of the biggest issues front office staff face is making sure their scheduling software works with their medical appointment scheduling template set in the EHR. How we work with scheduling templates is one of the first questions we get from prospective customers. The answer is through EHR integration. By integrating with a health system’s EHR, we ensure that we can read, in real-time, their medical appointment scheduling template settings. That means the right visit types go in the right appointment slot.
The best appointment scheduling software integrates with your EHR. Not only does it help with schedule templating, but has many other benefits. First, integration allows for faster setup times. For example, front office staff don’t need to recreate their appointment types in the new booking system. Second, any changes in the EHR do not need to be done again in another system. If you have multiple vendors, which you should, then integration is even more important. For example, if you add a new appointment type, it should automatically be added to all the vendors. Finally, EHR integration means that your appointment scheduling will be done in real-time instead of once a day. Medical offices must face and software must keep up!
Choose a Customizable Appointment Booking System
The best medical appointment scheduling system must be customizable. In an ideal world, your appointment types are perfectly organized and used correctly 100% of the time. That does not happen. In the same way you customize your EHR using medical appointment scheduling templates, you must be able to customizing your booking system. Each physician will have different needs outside of those reflected in the scheduling template. For example, a physician may allow four New Patient appointment types per day based on templating. However, that same physician may only want one new patient from a patient booking online per day. This may seem unreasonable, but the physician is a lot more important than a vendor.
Customization is about more than just settings. The best customization adapts to behavior. Front office staff use certain appointment types for a reason. They will not change for one vendor, they have patients to worry about. For example, if schedulers put an Annual patient appointment in an Established Patient appointment type that goes in a New Patient appointment template. This happens thousands of times a day at a large health system. A best in breed scheduling software will be able to recognize and parse these differences.
Use Reviews To Find the Best Appointment Scheduling Software
When looking for the best medical appointment booking system, ask how you would look for the best restaurants? Reviews! There is no Yelp for medical appointment scheduling software, but if your tool is integrated into your EHR, your EHR app marketplace will have reviews from past customers. For example, here are QueueDr’s reviews from the athenahealth marketplace (we did get one 4 out of 5 rating).
When reading reviews and checking references, you want to have game plan. In addition to asking about the above points we’ve made, here are a couple of other questions we’ve recommend. We skip over the obvious questions because we figure you’ve got those lined up.
- How long was the time from when the contract was signed to when the scheduling software was live?
- What extra work do front office staff have to do because of the software?
- What have been the most common issues you’ve had to solve?
- After a month, are you still seeing issues or has everyone adjusted?
- Now that you’ve added this, what other scheduling systems do you want to use?
Conclusion: Medical Appointment Scheduling Software
The right medical appointment scheduling software will benefit staff, patients, and doctors at the same time. Healthcare technology has a checkered history, but don’t let that dissuade you from innovating. By asking the right questions, you will be rewarded. We hope this guide gets you on that path.