Seasonal flu may be the last thing many of us are thinking about as we enjoy barbeques, vacations, camping, the beach and other activities during these summer months. Medical practitioners and facilities nationwide, however, are looking ahead toward the fall months and planning for the pending flu season, which typically begins around October.
One important aspect of their planning is the actual scheduling camp registration software of the flu shot vaccinations. It sounds easy enough, but just like any other service offered by an organization or business, efficient scheduling of appointment times is crucial to ensure an organized and time-saving process. And like other organizations and businesses nationwide, many healthcare professionals and facilities are turning in their paper appointment books and electronic calendars, such as those offered by Google and Microsoft Outlook, for a more effective way of managing their flu-shot appointments and patient information. They’re finding the answer in online flu-shot scheduling software applications.
The 2009 flu season exposed many of the challenges health departments, medical clinics, wellness groups and other healthcare facilities face when offering immunization shots. Continued new coverage of the of the H1N1 strain-also known as the swine flu-and its potential spread caused a sudden rush of individuals flocking to these sites seeking the vaccine. This resulted in long lines, vaccine shortages, flared tempers and administrative challenges for the administrators and staff at these facilities, especially for those locations that relied on a traditional manner of booking flu shot appointments, such as by phone, e-mail or on-site, in a first-come, first-serve basis.
Because of its versatility and functionality, online appointment-scheduling software applications such as Appointment-Plus were the answer to the flu-shot scheduling issues these facilities faced. As medical providers and vaccination sites begin planning for this coming flu season, online schedulers are playing a big role at flu-shot locations throughout the country.
There are numerous benefits for medical practitioners and facilities that implement an online flu shot scheduling application. For instance, an immediate result is a better-organized system of managing their flu shot appointment days and times, especially if the previous method involved a pen and paper appointment book. Administrators can decrease the likelihood of long lines or vaccine shortages by accurately assigning the number of appointments per day it can realistically handle. If can also require all customers to schedule an appointment before arriving at the shot-administration site.
Another benefit is the time and monetary savings. Allowing online self-scheduling can decrease the number of phone calls and e-mails from customers looking to schedule appointments. This frees up staff time that can be devoted to other pertinent tasks.
ONLINE FLU SHOT APPOINTMENT-SCHEDULING SOFTWARE: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT OFFERS
Most Web-based flu shot appointment-scheduling software applications are as easy to access and use as online banking, sending e-mail, or updating a social media site. Known as Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, they require only an Internet connection to access and utilize. Additionally, as they’re housed online on a secure server or other safe environment, they don’t require any additional hardware for facility computers or network, nor do they require any software downloads or uploads. Users simply access the service through a URL link in the same manner as navigating to any other Web site, log in, and then manage their scheduler.
Features can vary among the many scheduling providers, but generally, they offer such standard functionality as:
• Online customer self-scheduling. This can be the most beneficial feature of an online scheduling application, as it will automate the entire appointment process. Flu-shot providers can place a “schedule now” button on their Web site, newsletters or other promotional materials to direct customers to their online scheduler. As it’s accessible in the same way as any other Web site, they can also simply provide the URL link to customers who call in or e-mail the facility. Once a customer schedules a date and time for his or her flu shot, the system will automatically confirm the appointment and adjust the schedule to reflect the transaction. (Some facilities will schedule a flu shot every few minutes or so, while others may offer multiple appointments per time slot. Research a specific provider to see if it offers this functionality.) No additionally steps are necessary on behalf of the flu shot administrator.
• Automated e-mail and text message reminders. Some online flu shot scheduling software providers give facilities the ability to schedule and send e-mail and text message reminders automatically prior to a scheduled appointment time. Not only are these appreciated by customers, they can also reduce the number of “no-shows” that fail to make their appointment.
• Record-keeping and reporting capabilities. Keeping track of hundreds or thousands of flu shots and customer information can be a frustrating and tedious task. For some, it involves maintaining numerous spreadsheets, files and other documents. Online appointment-scheduling systems centralize this data, making it easy for medical professionals and administrative staff to access appointment details, notes and customer contact information.
• Online payment options. A facility that charges a fee for a flu shot may wish to offer customers the ability to pay for the service when they schedule their appointment. Some online scheduling providers allow sites to incorporate an online payment module on their system.
• E-marketing and communication. Healthcare providers and facilities often communicate to their customers and patients on upcoming clinics, events, news and other pertinent information. Since flu shot scheduling software maintains e-mail addresses in an easy-to-access format, it can provide the perfect tool for e-marketing campaigns. Some schedulers give users the option of sending it directly through the application or compiling e-mail addresses for use in other marketing materials, like sending e-newsletters.