Setting-up your clinic appointment systems and diaries – a practical guide
By Christine Pope
You did all the work to get someone to follow you on Facebook or Instagram and built a relationship with them. Finally, they decide to book in – are you making the process easy or difficult? Ideally you would have a reception team prepped and ready to take their call, but what can you do if you simply can’t afford reception at this point? There are a number of options that may be suitable for you in the earlier stages and some that are scalable to allow your business to expand easily.
First up there are a number of online booking systems you can utilise – they range from a basic diary function to a full clinic management system. These include;
- Timely – An online diary and booking system which sends out automated reminders and provides you with a simple mini-website. This is a relatively cheap and affordable version with the option to upgrade to more features as you grow.
- Smart Soft Front Desk – A comprehensive clinic management package which offers either a base monthly subscription offer of $90 a month or a one-off payment of $3995. It offers online bookings and diary management with email reminders, as well as clinical note taking, reporting and integrations with other software such as Hicaps and Medicare.
- Cliniko – A popular option for larger clinics as well as studios that offer classes or workshops. This starts at $45 per month for a single practitioner. It includes the diary function, has the option of SMS reminders or emails, and provides a range of reporting, client notes and other functions. The software has a mobile app which makes it easier for you and your clients to book appointments.
- MindBody Online – A US based provider who offers a range of clinic management systems which cover both classes and appointments. The software includes diary management and a mobile app for clients which can be personalised to the clinic. There are a number of integrations to make marketing easier including Constant Contact, as well as a broad range of reporting options. The base package at $160 a month means that it is probably more affordable for clinics with a number of practitioners. The company offers courses online and run MindBody University, a three-day training program through the package. Possibly the major downside with this software is that there is so much functionality that you may not be using some of the features.
There are many online booking systems available to suit all needs, googling key features is another good way to see what options are available. Ideally, it’s always better to start with a package on a monthly subscription to determine if it works for you and has all the features you need. It will reduce set up costs, with the only downside being, you may end up needing to learn more than one system. Most of the suppliers offer online support in the form of either video’s or assistance with installation. Get the system set up right and it becomes a lot easier going forward.
Research on online bookings shows that people are more likely to show up for an appointment they made at a time that suits them (rather than the one offered by the receptionist). Email reminders 48 hours in advance also ensure that the number of “no-shows” is reduced.
As your practice develops, an affordable reception option could be to combine a call centre with access to your software, to pick up phone bookings quickly as well as continuing to offer the option of online bookings.
About the Author
Christine is a long-standing Director for the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society and an experienced natural medicine practitioner who runs a clinic at Elemental Health, in St Ives, Sydney. Providing a high standard of natural health care, she enjoys treating complex acute and chronic conditions.