Tips for Building Online Appointment Scheduling Apps For Healthcare

The demand for appointment scheduling apps is growing. 

According to Mend, a patient scheduling app, 77 percent of patients want online appointment self-scheduling, and nearly 90 percent of patients choose a healthcare organization based on the ability to schedule or reschedule appointments on their own. 

Offering an appointment scheduler at your hospital, clinic, or dental office can be a great way to boost patient loyalty and bring new patients through your door. 

If you’re considering building an application like this for your healthcare organization, start by learning more about why the demand for digital services is rising, what an appointment scheduling app should do, and how to build an appointment scheduler the right way.  

Why Healthcare is Going Digital

It’s been estimated that the global market for healthcare apps could swell to a staggering $125.32 billion by 2028.

What’s behind the demand for a more digitally connected healthcare experience?

First, the COVID-19 pandemic forced patients and their care providers to think and act differently. In the first quarter of the pandemic, virtual visits skyrocketed by 50% and continued increasing until finally leveling off two years later. 

Second, the millennial and gen-X populations are aging into adulthood. People who fall into these demographic groups have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They increasingly choose care providers based on how easy or difficult it is to schedule appointments, talk with doctors, and fill prescriptions from their phones. 

Finally, there’s a growing desire to make access to care easier for people who live further away from physical hospitals, clinics, and offices. Telehealth allows doctors and nurses to reach people living in rural areas who otherwise would have to travel hours to receive the care and medication they need. 

To meet this growing demand, healthcare startups and hospitals are racing to develop apps that offer the digital experiences their patients want.

What is an Appointment Scheduling App?

One digital experience that patients want from their healthcare providers is the ability to easily schedule, cancel, or reschedule appointments with their doctors. 

Appointment scheduling apps should make it easier for patients to:

  • Schedule in-person appointments
  • Schedule virtual appointments
  • Manage, cancel, or reschedule appointments
  • Receive reminders about upcoming appointments
  • Send and receive messages about appointments
  • Call a scheduling team member for further assistance
  • Chat with a scheduling team member in real-time

The purpose of an appointment scheduling app is to streamline and automate the process of scheduling visits with care providers. By making this process more efficient, hospitals and clinics can reduce no-shows, increase bookings, and grow revenue.

Mend really puts this into perspective with the following data shared on their website:

 “If you make it easy for patients to modify their medical appointment calendar, expect another 2-8% reduction in no-show rates. For a 30-provider practice averaging $74 per visit, that's at least $560,000 in new revenue.”

5 Tips to Keep in Mind When Building an Appointment Scheduler

If you’re considering building an appointment scheduling app either as a startup or for your hospital or clinic, keep the following tips in mind. 

1. Build for Web and Mobile

Your appointment scheduler should be built so patients can access it on the web or using their  smartphones. 

Web-based applications are typically built using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS for the back-end and Node.js for the front-end. 

Mobile applications are built natively for iOS and Android using React Native + Python. 

Building an application that can be accessed from the web or a smartphone app will help ensure that all patients can use it regardless of age. 

2. Talk to Patients and Staff First

Before you start building your app, you should spend time talking to patients and staff about what features would be most helpful to them. 

This discovery phase is important because it will help you determine which features you need to include in the first version of your app and which features can be added later. 

When it comes to building your application, more features will cost more money and take more time. 

An MVP version of your application will take less time and money to build and allow you to get it into your patients' hands sooner. 

Use the answers you get from interviews with potential users to help guide you as you build your features list. 

Not sure where to start? Read through this helpful guide on how to conduct user interviews published by UX Collective. 

3. Prioritize Your Features List

Being able to strategically prioritize your features list is an important part of any application build. 

Including every desired feature that you and your team can think of in the first version of your application can get expensive and time-consuming.

To keep costs and time under control, you’re much better off going through a collaborative process to prioritize features before you start building. 

Here are some methods that can help you build your prioritized list of features:

  • Storymapping - This method encourages you and your team to shift the focus on the user and the experience they would want to have when interacting with your map. To use this method, map the user journey from beginning to end and list all the features they would want or need in order to use your app successfully.  
  • Value vs effort - This method encourages you to write a list of features, then assign each one with a value and a measurement of the effort required to built it.With this method, the goal is to “create a product that offers maximum value but with a manageable level of effort,” as explained in this article by Prodcamp.
  • Feature voting and scoring - This method encourages you to create a list of features, then ask internal team members or prospective users to vote for the ones they deem most important.
  • MoSCoW - this method encourages you to prioritize based on Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves, and Won’t Have But Would Like in the Future. 

Being intentional about how you prioritize will help you make decisions that are backed by data and research as opposed to emotions and assumptions. 

4. Put the Right Team in Place

Before you build your appointment scheduling app, you need to ensure you have the right team in place. You will need the following team members:

  • UI designer
  • Web developer
  • Native Android developer
  • Native iOS developers
  • QA tester
  • DevOps engineer
  • Graphic designer
  • Project manager
  • Engineering lead

Don’t have these people ready or available to help you build? Crowdbotics can fill in the gaps and help you move fast through your build and go-to-market timelines. 

5. Don’t Recreate the Wheel

Appointment schedulers are not new—they’ve been around for many years and have served users across a wide range of industries. 

Instead of building your appointment scheduler from the ground up, consider leveraging work that has already been done before you started your project. 

At Crowdbotics, we have an ever-growing library of pre-built modules that our clients can use when building their applications. These modules allow you to quickly build elements of your app that you can find in most popular applications today.

Get Started

Crowdbotics provides managed app development to help healthcare providers build patient-facing, vendor-specific, or administrative tools. 

Our custom software solutions for hospitals and independent physicians can improve operations, simplify billing, and deliver better patient outcomes. 

Ready to tell us about your project? Visit our Healthcare Application Development page to get started.

Originally published:

July 19, 2022

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