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Allowing Patients To Book Online Is Changing The Game…Is That A Good Thing?
Written by Christine Walker, PT, DPT, PYT, PES
I know…it's so attractive.
 
The idea of allowing patients to book directly on your website sounds like a dream (especially if you're a solo practitioner without a secretary!)
 
You can cut the phone call, avoid the back-and-forth about who is available and when…it's going to save you lots of time and hassle, right?
 
Or is it? 
 
All the big healthcare systems are doing it. But does that mean you should too? 
 
This question goes deeper than whether or not it's "convenient" for you or the patient. Really, the question is, what experience do you want to provide your patient? 
 
In my practice, it's all about the experience (NOT the convenience).
 
I live in Charlotte and there are hundreds of PT clinics…and thousands of physical therapist to choose from. Most people going to PT experience a very methodical and cookie-cutter approach, where they are one of multiple patients being seen at the same time by one therapist.
 
It's a factory. Let's be honest.
 
My clinic is the exact opposite. 
 
I typically chat with people on the phone for 15-30 minutes BEFORE they come in for a free 30 minute visit…and only if that goes well do we even get to the paid evaluation. 
 
My patients have a number so they can access me at any time. 
 
I have an office, but go do house calls if needed. 
 
I know what's going on with my patients…and online scheduling does NOT fit into the bigger experience I'm providing at my cash practice. 
 
Sure, it would be convenient, and save me some time. But what I found is that the easier it is to schedule an appointment, the easier it is to cancel an appointment. 
 
I experimented with online scheduling and the result was disastrous. 
 
I had patients scheduling who weren't a good fit for my practice, which led to many headaches.
 
I had patients cancelling and rescheduling all the time, and I didn't know what was going on in their lives in order to support them best. This really created a lot more work because now I had to follow-up with them to even find out what was going on…
 
The bottom line is it just doesn't work for my practice model. It made me too much like "all the other clinics" out there. 
 
Does that mean it won't work for you? Absolutely not.
 
But I want you to think about all these things before setting up an online scheduling system, so you avoid some of the mistakes I made. 
 
Does online scheduling fit into your bigger marketing strategy? 
 
Does online scheduling fix more problems than it creates? 
 
Would your ideal patient like online scheduling? Or would they really prefer to schedule by talking to you? 
 
A lot of patients "hate to bother" their healthcare practitioner. 
 
They view us as super busy and with not enough time to care about their "small" needs. WHAT A SHAME. 
 
Many patients will feel pressured to use an online scheduling system so they "don't bother you". 
 
I want my patients to know that I AM THEIRS to be bothered. That's what I'm here for! I'm not like the rest of the healthcare system that is "too busy" for their small needs. 
 
This is just another of the many reasons that you can't schedule with me online. 
 
So, what do you think…are you going to allow your patients to schedule on your website? Let me know if it's working (or not working) for you! 

ABOUT CHRISTINE WALKER

Christine Walker is a physical therapist, cash PT practice owner, wife & mom of 2 in Charlotte, NC. She helps other PTs find financial and professional freedom by tackling the technology needed to build their business websites to bring in MORE new patient leads from the internet. She loves the Tar Heels, hot tea, and chasing her kids around the house as they dribble soccer balls.  Connect with her on Facebook by clicking HERE.

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