"Find a Doctor" Search & Scheduling: Which implementation option is best for you?

30 June, 2016

The current state of the pre-visit healthcare experience is at a breaking point.

The same empowered consumers that enjoy a smooth, personal, and mobile customer experience in most areas of their lives are also patients, and they’re frustrated with their healthcare experience, to the tune of 75% of them, according to a GE study. Online search and scheduling is an inevitable and practical next step in healthcare catching up to consumer expectations. Accenture predicts that by 2019, 64% of patients will book their appointments digitally.

The question of whether to innovate or not, which providers and doctors have been asking the last decade, has changed to: How do I do this? It’s time to stop asking, how long can this dam hold? It’s now about choosing the pathway that best funnels the inevitable gush.

Well, there are options, and choosing how to implement online search & scheduling (OS&S) comes down to which option is best for you?

The 3 options to implementing online search & scheduling: Build, Buy, or Partner

Implementing an OS&S platform is like any other new system for any business. For example, when a company’s sales and marketing teams need to implement a CRM system, the same choices lay in front of them: build, buy, or partner.

They can choose to build it themselves, and completely own implementation and support in-house. This is for those who prefer complete control from start to finish and beyond, and have the time, resources, expertise, and dollars to do so.

Another possibility is find an outside vendor’s product and buy theirs, but “buy” means the relationship cuts off after purchase. This is for those that need a cutting edge solution immediately, but have the resources, dollars, and ultimately, time to maintain the system in-house. These vendors’ products are typically static out of the box, and may require infrastructure adjustments to accommodate.

There is also a third option: there are outside vendors that not only sell cutting edge systems, but will also maintain them on a subscription basis. This is for those who want to leave implementation and maintenance in the hands of the experts, and would prefer to partner with them. Partners offer expertise and fully customizable systems based on client needs, and can maintain them, complete with upgrades, and ongoing functionality improvements.

No matter which option is chosen, there are six critical steps in implementing an OS&S platform that must be taken. The following table examines the steps from the perspective of the three options, comparing the benefits and considerations of each.

[Download a complimentary copy of the above table in PDF format.]

Making time your friend the only cure for analysis paralysis

Choosing an option is largely based on the three basic assets everyone has (or doesn’t have): time, manpower, and money. For example, while build is the most expensive of all options, if one has ample wealth in all three assets, it may be the best option. There is, however, an inherent problem, a constant that doesn’t fluctuate based for anyone, and that is Time.

Immediacy is a necessity. The next several years are critical in not only converting patients with a smooth pre-visit experience, but in sustaining loyal customer relationships post-visit. Potential patients may abandon and current patients may leak if there’s lag in either phase. Implementing a robust and sustainable OS&S platform now must skyrocket to the highest priority.

Self-assess and choose the right option for you. If OS&S is implemented correctly, the next several years will be a smooth transition and the pent-up rush of innovation will be a gentle stream, rather than an unwanted flood.