Okay, here’s the problem…

You’re spending money to get more patients (and retain existing ones). How do you know if it’s working?

Most practices need more patients.

Most of your revenue relies on Patient Consultations.

This is true regardless of whether you Behavioural Optometry, Ortho-K, Dry Eye or Primary Eyecare.

(Rarely, a script will come in the door from elsewhere. But that’s for another time.)

How can you measure how well your marketing is working?

Traditionally, this meant telling your staff to ask patients ‘how did they find out about us’. From this, you’ll be able to group patients into loose buckets, like ‘online’ or ‘mail’.

But it all comes down to how well patients can remember where they found out about you.

Dr Gary Gerber likes the form of marketing that makes it appear that you’re everywhere at once. That is, you’re on the Newspaper, Radio, Facebook, Google, Letterbox Postcards. He calls it ‘surround-sound marketing’.

When patient’s hear you everywhere, is it any wonder that they find it difficult to remember where they heard about you? Or to choose which of the sources made them ultimately book an appointment with you?

So, the solution is…

Online Appointments

What are they?

These are real appointments that are booked by patients online.

Patients come away with an email or text message telling them their actual appointment time.

Patients can book an Online Appointment any time of the day or night.

Perhaps their recall letter has been sitting on the fridge for six weeks. And their spouse keeps asking them to make an appointment.

But they get busy at work and don’t get much of a lunch break.

By the time they think to call your practice, you’re already home and eating dinner with your family.

With an Online Appointment, they don’t have to fill out an ‘appointment request’ form on your website, wait for a reply during office hours, and hope that their preferred time is available.

An Online Appointment is instant gratification. They get confirmation of their preferred appointment.

And they can get back to watching Game of Thrones, or The Crown.

So, what do you look for in an Online Appointment System?

(Here, I’ll assume that the system adds appointments directly to your Practice Management System. And that it updates within seconds, so that your appointment book is always up to date.)

  • Easy for patients- it needs to make the Registration process easy for first-time users. Ideally, the system would offer a ‘Sign in with Google’ or ‘Sign in with Facebook’ option. The less that patients have to type, the more likely they are to succeed in making an appointment.
  • Easy for you to share online- with a single link, you can share on your website, Facebook Page, Facebook Ad, or any other social media networks that you use.
  • Useful data- it needs to track where patients are coming from. For example, did your patient come from Facebook or one of the other sources above?
  • Verify patients- are they a new or existing patient?
  • Links to your Google Analytics- if you want even greater detail about where patients are coming from, you’ll want your Online Appointments to tell Google Analytics when an appointment is made. Then you can find the sweet spot that leads to most appointments.
  • Bookings for family members- patients can choose whether they are making an appointment for themselves or their family members.

Last week, I was excited to add Online Appointments for our Practice.

Why am I excited?

Because Our current Practice Management Software feels like it is stuck in the past. It’s still PC-based, not cloud-based. It doesn’t connect seamlessly to our marketing systems. There’s a lot of manipulation required to get information out of it.

I was excited to be able to add real online appointments to our software. (It made me feel like we weren’t lagging too far behind.)

And we can see directly where appointments are coming from. Especially, appointments that were made outside of office hours. These are appointments that we’ve never been able to schedule (or measure) before.

Finally, we can measure things that matter…. Patients who reach the appointment chair in our practice.

How about you? Have you thought about offering Online Appointments in your Practice?