Online Appointment Requests Increasing
For the past couple years, we've seen our doctors get an average of a little more than 2 online appointment requests per month. We recently noticed an interesting trend over the past few months here at DoctorBase with respect to how patients are communication with their doctors. Over the past few months, that number has increased to over 3 online appointment requests per month.
While the primary means by which most patients is still over the phone, this increase in services being requested through over the Internet is something we've already seen in spaces outside of healthcare. Remember when we used to call a travel agent to book a flight? Now we can go to a multitude of airlines' websites (and even more airfare aggregating travel sites) at any time of the day to book a flight online. At long last, we're beginning to finally see this same development in healthcare.
We recognize that part of the slow adoption of online appointment requests is due to regulations specific to the healthcare industry. There's certainly a HIPAA issue that scares many doctors away from communicating with patients online due to the potential lack of security it provides for the patients' Protected Health Information (PHI). However, this isn't that much different than what the airline industry encountered with transactional security when they started letting people book online with their credit card. It's not much different with an appointment request from a patient - as long as the proper online security & encryption is in place, both the patient and the doctor have nothing to fear.
As patients are able to accomplish more online, their expectations of being able to request an appointment via the Internet at their own convenience has risen significantly. It's good to see that there are some doctors who recognize this desire from their patients, and are implementing a simple & secure way to book more appointments 24 hours a day.