What 1 Million Bookings a Month Has Taught Us About How Australians Book Online

Today HotDoc processes more than 1 million bookings a month on behalf of our clinics. On some days, more than 50,000 Australians are booking a doctor using HotDoc. This is a particularly big achievement considering we’ve accommodated this volume of bookings without spending a cent trying to lure in new patients using Google AdWords.

We’re proud to be trusted by more than 4 million Australians and are grateful to all of the clinics who have chosen us and made this possible. But all pats on the back aside, what exactly have we learned from 1 million bookings a month? Below we highlight some of the big discoveries we’ve made by analysing our data. We also share some of the changes we have made to HotDoc’s products in response to these learnings.

1 in 2 online bookings are made after hours

A lot of stuff happens outside of hours. In fact, 51% of all online bookings are made between 5pm and 9am. Nicky Dabas, a HotDoc user, shared, “So happy with this app. I can use it in the middle of the night and even Sundays at the two doctors rooms my family regularly sees. It also keeps past appointments which is good to look back at when needed.”

Knowing how much patients liked doing things after hours, we decided to see if we could build a product that allowed patients to do even more in their own time. This led to us building New Patient Registration, which is a customisable online new patient registration form that new patients can fill in prior to their appointment. 

As well as freeing up staff by reducing the need to transcribe hard to read handwriting, many clinics have said the product has also improved the patient experience by reducing the stress involved with getting patients to fill out forms when they are already running late.

You can read more about how New Patient Registration helped one 3GP clinic add 2,500 new patients to their database in 9 weeks with just 2 reception staff.  

The average online booking is made 4 days before the appointment

We also learned that most bookings are made several days in advance of the appointment and many patients book several appointments ahead. Les Harris, a HotDoc user, says, “[HotDoc] makes it so much easier to book ahead, particularly at a clinic where doctors are changing the hours they choose to work…. I can book 3-4 appointments ahead.”

Knowing patients were sometimes booking several appointments ahead and often making these bookings days or even weeks in advance, we realised a couple of things. First, patients need all the help they can get to remember their bookings, and second, despite how much we wish they didn’t happen, cancellations are going to be a thing.

This led us to do a few things. We added a calendar link to the HotDoc app so patients can have their appointment go straight into their calendar once booked. We also did a bit of research to find the perfect appointment reminder template to optimise for response rate. Good reminders help identify likely no-shows early on by allowing them to cancel. This means clinics can reopen appointments to other patients who are more likely to attend.

We also added a reschedule prompt that appears when a patient cancels an appointment. This encourages the patient to rebook immediately, ensuring they don’t miss out on healthcare opportunities, and keeping your doctor’s schedules as full as possible.

8 in 10 online bookings are made on mobile

With 5 times as many online bookings made on mobile, we saw just how crucial a flawless mobile experience is. To adjust to this learning, our developers, designers and user experience team has worked hard to make the HotDoc app as user-friendly as possible.

The design love has certainly paid off, with our app currently ranked as the No. 1 Medical app in the Apple Store and the only health app to make the ‘Top 100’ in the Google Play Store. But even more rewarding than these rankings is reading through the individual reviews from patients. 

Terry Fisher, a HotDoc user, shares,  “I’m deaf, vocally impaired and along with PTSD and BPD, I suffer from social anxiety/social hyper-vigilance. With HotDoc I can make my own appointment, get reminded of the appointment, have had the office of my doctor get in touch when the appointment needed to be changed, and it’s all done via the app and email.”

We’re very proud of how much the app is helping reduce stress in people’s lives and will continue to improve the user experience as we go along.

Most online bookings are made at 8am 

We also learned that patients are most proactive about their health first thing in the morning. Not only are most bookings made at 8am, but between 7am and 8am, appointment reminders receive the highest response rate.

Jacqui Bartlett, a HotDoc user, explains, “I find [HotDoc] great when you work full time and don’t always get a chance to ring at 8am to try and fluke [an appointment].”

Knowing that clinics were crazy-busy first thing because patients were most proactive with their health at this time in the morning, we wanted to do more to take the strain off staff. The best way we thought we could help was to reduce crowding around the desk so reception staff were better freed up to take calls and spend more time with patients who needed the help.

To help, we released the software for HotDoc Check-In into the App Store. This means that even HotDoc clinics who don’t have a physical kiosk can access HotDoc Check-In on an iPad.

To date, we’ve processed more than 2 million check-ins through HotDoc Check-In, saving HotDoc clinics tens of thousands of hours they would have otherwise spent checking patients in and updating their personal details. We hope by making Check-In available as an app that we can see this number rise even further.

Most bookings are made on Mondays

Mondays are havoc for medical centres. 15-25% more bookings are made on Mondays than Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 55-75% more than on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

Seeing this staggering difference, we wanted to do more to help free up reception staff during their busiest periods. One way was obviously getting as many patients as possible using the HotDoc app to book appointments.

As Michelle Allen, a HotDoc user with a chronic illness, shares, “I’m very grateful for this app. It not only helps the overwhelmed reception staff at my beloved family practice. It makes life so much easier for me as I have chronic illness and skipping the wait can be really important.”

Still we wanted to do more. That’s why we started building a health Results function for our Recalls product, which will be released to the public soon. The tool will automatically sync patients with non-urgent test results from Best Practice and send them an SMS encouraging them to book in for a follow-up appointment. You can register here to be the first to know when Results is available.

What’s in store for 2020?

Next year is looking to be an even bigger year for HotDoc. While we will continue to serve the general practice space, we’re partnering up with Genie Solutions to bring a product to market that will also allow patients to book appointments with specialists using HotDoc. This will close the loop on a good patient experience by allowing patients, GPs and any specialists involved to all seamlessly communicate through one system.

Want to start using HotDoc at your clinic? Call 1300 468 362 or email [email protected].

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