Why Is It Important to Develop Doctor’s Appointment App?

31 May9 min read
Why Is It Important to Develop Doctor’s Appointment App?

Demand for appointment scheduling software is clear. People enjoy mobile apps, why wouldn’t they like one for healthcare, too? Software improves communication between patients and medical staff and simplifies some tasks for clinics. Seems like a win-win situation.

But not just any app will do. Expectations are quite high. Every healthcare organization must consider certain aspects to make the right decision. Functionality and user experience are the most essential here. How to ensure that your software will match your business and give positive results? Luckily, we are here to help you understand what you should pay attention to and when to create a doctor scheduling app. 

What Is a Doctor’s Appointment Scheduling App?

A doctor’s appointment scheduling app is software that lets patients book appointments with specialists in hospitals and clinics. As a rule, primary and specialty care clinics use this software to provide access to their services, while hospitals can also use such apps to schedule elective surgeries. These booking solutions can be independent apps or they can be part of an EHR system.

Scheduling apps play a significant role in clinic booking systems because they automate the booking process and optimize the schedule. Otherwise, medical staff would have to enter patients’ personal details, and schedule  appointments, and do other routine tasks manually. Automation leads to improved interaction with patients, reduced hassle during confirmation, cancelation, and rescheduling appointments, and allows revisits tracking. 

Appointment booking apps also reduce direct waiting time for urgent or unscheduled episodes while other patients are still able to have their appointments on time. This is possible because the software can analyze multiple criteria and create a schedule according to them. Basically, the software not just prioritizes the urgent cases, but reserves some capacity for them exclusively, while still offering regular patients comfortable time for visits.

Core and extra features

You could assume that all it takes is finding a time to visit the doctor, but it’s a bit more complicated. Here are the basic features that any medical appointment app needs: 

Patient section

  • Smart search
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Patient profile
  • Reminders
  • Appointments history
  • Online payments

Admin section

  • User management
  • Dashboard
  • Capacity Management
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Availability Management
  • CRM
  • No-Show Tracking
  • On-Call Scheduling
  • Reporting/Analytics
  • Rescheduling

Here are extra features that you also might consider including in your app:

  • Telemedicine/Chat or Video conferencing (online consultations)
  • Document upload
  • e-Prescriptions
  • Chatbot
  • EMR integration
  • Data security and regulation compliance
  • Medication tracker
  • Health tips and insights

What is most important is that your software must be compliant with HIPAA regulations to process patient data. Otherwise, you will not be able to provide the full range of services online, e.g. EMR integration.

Why Do You Need To Build an Application For a Doctor’s Appointments?

It doesn’t matter if you are trying to avoid problems or want to boost productivity in your hospital. A scheduling app for medical organizations is a useful tool able to solve many tasks. 

What problems have increased the demand for doctor appointment apps?

  • Wasted time. Hospitals spend 10+ hours a day managing appointments. Save time on administrative and routine tasks with software that can do this routine work much faster.
  • Canceled appointments. It is natural for patients to cancel their visits, but some do it at the last minute. As a result, clinics are not able to fill those time slots which leads to gaps in the schedule and lost income. The software can effectively deal with this problem. If a patient cancels the visit in the app, it will be easy to immediately reschedule the appointment without losing time and money.
  • Missed appointments. Many patients miss their appointments with doctors simply because they forget. Booking apps have reminders and notifications that will inform users about upcoming visits.
  • Duplications or overlapping. Overlapping appointments is a big problem for medical institutions. It leads to patient dissatisfaction and it’s a hassle for doctors. At the same time, duplication means that with a visually busy schedule there can be a lot of actually free time. The software prevents human errors like overlapping and duplications so the schedule is relevant.
  • Spreading infection. Lines in waiting rooms can spread airborne viruses and other infections. Virtual waiting rooms of appointment apps will help with social distancing and thus ensure the safety of the patients.
  • Stress of reception staff. Scheduling appointments and other routine paperwork is time-consuming and stressful. Both of them might cause staff burnout. The software can minimize these mundane tasks, improve your employees’ well-being and productivity.
  • Human errors. The software will reduce spelling errors. It also will not accept such errors as scheduling appointments outside of working hours or on the weekend‒thus helping office staff avoid mistakes.

Here are the advantages from developing a doctor appointment app:

For medical organizations: 

  • Schedule optimization. Most doctors and medical workers have unbalanced schedules with “busy hours'' and “loose hours.” But scheduling apps will schedule appointments evenly during the day and week.
  • Improved overall efficiency. With the workload spread evenly, your hospital will be more productive.
  • Increased online visibility. A booking app offers a digital service that attracts a larger audience that would not wait in line at the office.
  • Increase in the number of appointments. For most people it’s more convenient to book time online, while real-life interaction with receptionists is rather problematic and some avoid it. With the help of an online booking app, there will be more visitors.
  • Increased revenue. More successful appointments mean more profit for the clinics.
  • Performance analysis. Most apps offer dashboards that show KPIs so you will be aware of how your hospital is doing.

For patients:

  • 24/7 access to medical institutions. Many patients book their visits to doctors in their free time. In most cases, that means after working hours when receptionists aren’t at work.
  • Easy booking and rebooking. Users need just a couple of clicks to choose a comfortable time and book an appointment.
  • Online payment for services. Many apps have integrated payment gateways so patients can pay for services online without additional stress.

Off-the-shelf doctor appointment apps vs custom

Canceled and missed appointments cause a lot of harm to hospitals and clinics. They not only result in messed up schedules and financial losses, but can also lead to some patients not getting the care they need. Software for doctor appointments can solve this problem.

Not every medical institution can afford a complicated and expensive solution ‒ and they might not need one, either. Small practices and private therapists don’t have the resources for complex solutions, and can probably get away with simple, ready-to-use software.  

There are a lot of ready-made solutions on the market. Some of them are basic, but they can handle everything from beauty salons to private practices. Others, like TherapyNotes, for psychologists, serve more healthcare-specific needs. 

Here are examples of the best medical scheduling software:

  • Acuity Scheduling - a HIPAA-compliant self-scheduling solution that stores PHI data, sends reminders and branded confirmations, and performs patient intakes. Price: from $15 per month for 1 staff/location.
  • Jane - an all-in-one practice management solution for branded online booking, patient reminders, integrated payment processor, and a custom EMR. Price: from $57 per month for 1 license.
  • Vagaro - an easy-to-use software with schedule customization, online booking, built-in marketing tools, and simple appointment management. Price: from $25 per month for 1 bookable calendar.
  • ChiroFusion -a functional but affordable web-based solution for practice management, the most suitable for chiropractors. Price: from $99 per month with unlimited number of staff users.
  • TherapyNotes - an easy-to-use and secure platform for simplifying the work of behavioral health therapists. It allows scheduling, billing, notes, etc. Price: from $25 per month for a solo practitioner or new provider.

There are many other options with great functionality. You will surely be able to find something suitable. Most platforms offer free trials, so before dedicating all your time and money to a single solution, you will be able to understand if it fits your business or not.

Be careful about scheduling solutions that are designed only for general use. If they are not created for the medical practice, are not HIPAA compliant, and thus do not have some essential features.

Canned solutions may not be flexible enough and won’t suit your business. Large institutions might be interested in appointment scheduling or an EMR system. Additionally, if you have a specific vision for your app, then you probably need to hire a team to build software from scratch. 

Custom patient scheduling software ensures unique design and functionality, but it requires serious coding skills, time, and money. But in some cases, custom development is indeed the most appropriate choice. 

When do you need to develop a custom app?

In general, here are the main reasons for custom development:

- unique features

- complex integrations with EHR/EMR (especially if the rest of your software is custom-made)

- security

As you see, unique functionality is not the only reason to build a custom app. Your business might demand extra security, which is not available with pre-built solutions.If your company is big, or has a network, it makes sense to build a custom app to improve brand recognition with a unique design and offer.

Here are some examples of custom-developed apps for big medical establishments:

  • The Mayo Clinic’s app - The Mayo Clinic specializes in seriously ill patients and has campuses in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida, as well as multiple offices around the country. They needed an application for healthcare operations, staff management, and patient engagement.
  • The Health Buddy app - SingHealth medical company created an app that provides services for many Singaporean healthcare organizations, e.g. National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore General Hospitals, KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital, and many others.
  • MyHealth app - is a product of Stanford Health Care. This app integrates with the Epic EHR system, uses HealthKit to import activity, and health data from 3rd-party devices, e.g. from companies like Fitbit.

Here is an example of a custom-developed app for a small organization with unique needs:

Our customer, a mental health organization with a unique workflow, required a custom solution. Previously, they had data stored in Excel files and separate accounting software. But as the business grew, it became impossible to handle everything manually. We developed a CRM for psychologists, a software for therapy scheduling and management. It is also integrated with a 3rd-party accounting system to manage invoices.

Like for any other custom-made software, the price for an appointment scheduling app depends on several factors like complexity of features, design costs, and development team rates. 

From our experience, the development of an MVP will cost $40,000-$50,000 and take from 4-5 months. The more you want, the more resources it will take to fulfill your idea. For example, software with a built-in chatbot for symptoms checking, telemedicine, and integration with an EMR will cost $60,000-$80,000. 

If you have more questions, Greenice web development company will answer all of them. We can also analyze your ideas and offer a custom healthcare solution that suits you perfectly. 

Wrapping up

A scheduling app can significantly improve the workflow in your hospital. The software can automate routine tasks, saving employees from burnout and patients from bad service. Before adopting any system, don’t jump headlong into custom  doctor appointment app development - maybe you can get away with something off-the-shelf. 

You may need to modify a canned solution to fully correspond to your needs. Moreover, some of these apps are not healthcare-centered, which means they are not HIPAA compliant and are not appropriate for your medical organization. 

Custom patient scheduling apps will meet your every requirement. This is the right option for clinics and practices with a unique workflow. 

Send us, at Greenice, your ideas and tell us your wishes. We’ll come up with the perfect solution.