In a recent patient survey* we found that, while the majority of patients (73%) say they have never booked an appointment with a specialist online, most (60%) would prefer to book online rather than over the phone, if they had the choice.
Deeva, a 38 year old mother of two who developed various skin issues after giving birth to her second daughter, says she prefers booking her dermatologist online because it saves her time. “As a full time mother and an employee, time is the most critical component in my life. Booking appointments with my skin doctor online saves me time and allows me to book at my leisure.
“It also allows me to plan efficiently by checking my availability with my calendar. Plus I can reschedule and make cancellations if I have to while avoiding long wait times on hold,” she says.
Louise, 55 years old from Dural in NSW, says she books her regular specialist online because she likes not having to “wait for business hours to begin.”
“I prefer to avoid waiting in a queue, being put on hold, or having to juggle dates and times in my head whilst being rushed to choose a particular date. The online booking feature allows me to take my time to check my schedule which enables a faster and much more reliable confirmation than that afforded by human error,” she says.
Seventy-seven percent of 18-29 year olds prefer to book specialist appointments online
Age plays a big factor in determining patient preference for booking a specialist online compared to over the phone. For instance, 77% of 18-29 year olds prefer to book a specialist appointment online. This fell to 70% in 30-44 year olds and 45-60 year olds.
The only anomaly was that patients aged over 60 years old were more likely to want to book over the phone. Just 28% of over 60 year olds prefer to book online.
It’s worth noting that the above results are likely to be impacted by whether a patient has actually booked an appointment online before. For instance, 50% of 18-29 year olds have booked a specialist appointment online in the past. This dropped to 41% in people aged 30-44 years old, 15% in 45-60 year olds, and 7% in people over 60 years old.
Seventy-three percent of metro patients prefer to book specialist appointments online
Location also plays a significant role in patient preference for booking a specialist online. The closer to the city centre a patient is, the more likely they are to have a preference for online bookings.
This is evident with 73% of metropolitan patients preferring to book a specialist appointment online. This dropped to 62% in suburban patients, 43% in regional patients, and 40% in rural patients.
Patients who live nearer to a city centre are also more likely to have previously made an online booking for a specialist.
Forty-one percent of people who live in metro areas say they have booked a specialist appointment online at some point in the past. This dropped to 26% in suburban patients, 12% in regional patients, and 15% in rural patients.
Men and women equally prefer booking specialist appointments online
Females (62%) and males (59%) equally prefer to book specialist appointments online. While females are slightly more (up 3%) in favour of online bookings, the difference is too close to draw any significant conclusions.
It’s also worth noting that males (26%) and females (27%) are equally likely to have booked an appointment with a specialist online at some time in the past.
Eighty-six percent of patients who have booked a GP appointment online would prefer to book a specialist online
Perhaps unsurprisingly, patients who have booked a GP appointment online are almost three times more likely to want to book a specialist online than patients who haven’t booked an appointment with their GP online.
Eighty-six percent of patients who have booked a GP online say they would prefer to book a specialist online rather than over the phone. This dropped to 36% in patients who have not booked a GP online.
This may reveal that while booking an appointment online can be daunting at first, once this obstacle is overcome and a patient makes a booking online, they tend to prefer this method over calling their clinic.
Patients familiar with HotDoc are 28% more likely to want to book specialist appointments online
Digging into the data we also found that 79% of patients who are familiar with HotDoc would prefer to book a specialist appointment online, rather than over the phone. This dropped to 51% in patients who were not familiar with HotDoc.
While this may be explained by the fact that people who book online are more likely to be aware of HotDoc (who provides online bookings), it also reveals that those who have had an interaction with HotDoc tend to have a more favourable view of booking online.
Learn more about HotDoc Online Bookings
You can learn more about HotDoc online bookings for specialists here.
*Source: Survey of 618 Australians conducted by HotDoc in November 2019