Online booking is supposed to make your life as a practitioner easier. With just a few clicks, patients can schedule themselves into your calendar, eliminating the hassle of playing phone tag and reducing the overall administrative burden.
As Jeanine Harrison — a nurse practitioner, the owner of three medical aesthetics clinics in Ontario, and founder of the medical aesthetics consulting company 321 Launch Medical — puts it, “Rather than the patient having to call, leave a message, then [get] a call back from the secretary, it’s just so much easier for [them] to go in, find a convenient time, and book themselves. Jane makes the experience so user-friendly for the patient.”
“I don’t have a preference as to who I see or when I see them, so I don’t necessarily need to be involved in the booking process — but I do need to be assured that I can block off the schedule if I have to leave at four o’clock,” she adds.
Jeanine’s journey in the healthcare field is worth mentioning. With over 20 years of experience in cardiology, working in ward nursing and ICU, she eventually specialized as a nurse practitioner in congenital cardiology. When she was introduced to medical aesthetics, she saw the doors it could open for her: “I realized very quickly there was an opportunity to grow and develop the independent nursing practice.”
Currently, through her business 321 Launch Medical, she assists nurse practitioners in growing their practices and strengthening their business mindset. “My goals have always been where can I help next? And what can I do to make nursing bigger, better, faster, stronger, and more legally aware?”
However, while managing your schedule effectively is one aspect of the business mindset, it’s equally crucial to consider the experience your clients have when navigating your website and online booking platform. If the process is clunky, complicated, or overwhelming, it might be preventing people from taking the final step and locking in their treatment with you.
Here are a few common barriers clients encounter during the booking process, and what you can do to make sure they have a smooth and hassle-free experience.
Barrier #1: Your booking process is lengthy and complicated
How many steps are required in your booking process? Is it clear which step comes next? What information are clients asked to share? Practitioners naturally want to be thorough when they collect client information so that they can offer the best possible care. Yet, front-loading the process with too many questions can have an unintended negative impact – clients may get interrupted, distracted, or begin to feel frustrated and abandon the task midway through. Consider what you really need to secure the appointment, and remember that once booked, you can always send intake or consent forms to capture the extra details later.
Pro Tip: Online forms are both user-friendly and practitioner friendly, especially when using a customizable template. Instead of starting from scratch, tweaking a premade template to fit your unique needs saves you time, and reduces the amount of paperwork the patient gets during their visit. Jeanine adds: “If you can consolidate [the information] easily into the forms, then it goes directly into the patient chart and it’s there forever.”
Barrier #2: Your software doesn’t prioritize design
There’s a common misconception that to have a robust software you need to sacrifice on design. But that belief might actually be hurting you. Good design isn’t just about looking beautiful – it also helps streamline the booking experience by eliminating unnecessary steps, reducing duplicate information, and providing a clear and visual layout that makes the entire process more intuitive. “Often in the hospital we do a flow analysis – there’s a succinct manner between services and [moving] from a treatment area to a testing area to the ward,” says Jeanine, who thinks of good software much in the same way. “It [should be] clearly laid out so that the patient can move between elements of the software very easily.”
Barrier #3: You’re not telling the full story
One thing you want to avoid on your website is uncertainty. If people don’t feel confident in what they’re signing up for, they’re less likely to take the leap. “Having very clear identification that’s succinct [is important] because it makes it so much easier for patients to book,” Jeanine explains. Make sure to offer detailed treatment descriptions that include information on cost, appointment duration, and even after-care instructions, if applicable.That way, your clients know exactly what to expect from their service and can feel comfortable moving forward. “From the medical aesthetics side, I consider their verbiage versus our verbiage – meaning I’ll put in ‘botox treatment’ instead of ‘botulinum toxin’.”
Barrier #4: Your platform isn’t optimized for mobile
With more people using their phones for everyday admin tasks, it’s crucial that your online booking software is easily accessible on mobile devices. If the software is unresponsive or difficult to use on a phone, chances are that a good chunk of your clients will quit out of frustration rather than jump on their laptop to complete the process.
Barrier #5: You don’t have features clients want
Client-friendly features include things like waitlist notifications, so people feel like they have a shot at getting their preferred time and practitioner; online intake forms or pre-payment options, so they can complete their administrative tasks before their appointment; and reminder notifications to help them stay on top of their scheduling.
Remember, having a superior client experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your needs as a practitioner. At the bare minimum, you’ll want a platform that is compliant with privacy regulations like HIPAA or PIPEDA, for example, or allows you to edit and customize the permissions of your staff to adhere to your security protocols.
“As a nurse practitioner, everything I think about in my medical aesthetics practice, I always reflect back to the hospital and the responsibilities within,” Jeanine says, adding that her software first has to tick the boxes when it comes to the legal side of her practice – charting, billing, consenting – before she can think of the customer experience.
When you feel confident that you’ve done your due diligence as a practitioner, then you can move into improving the patient experience. Considering both will allow you to build a holistic system that considers all aspects of patient care, from helping your patients feel secure, to making their lives a bit easier. “I think it’s combining those two things — having the flexibility of allowing your patients to be able to book themselves within your shift without you having to be the conduit, and being legally responsible with your patients and accountable to your college.”
Learn more about how Jane can help you run your medical aesthetics practice. Register to watch our recent webinar with Jeanine Harrison on demand.