The definitive guide to building a waitlist with video appointments
In this post, we explain why, as a cataract and refractive surgeon, you should be pressingly adding video appointments to your service offering to protect your patient pipeline during the Coronavirus crisis shutdowns, and beyond.
Video appointments also referred to as telehealth, have transformed how healthcare providers interact and exchange information with patients. Before the Coronavirus, they were already becoming a standard feature in today’s society – particularly the health sector.
Today, they are a must. And, you can rest assured they will become a part of the phase called “The New Normal” after the worst of this crisis is over. (Check out this post on the 5 phases impacting your revenue during the Coronavirus crisis).
In February, I’d only read the phrase “social distancing” once. Now, it’s everywhere. And unless experts’ most optimistic models come to pass, we should expect to be subject to social distancing measures (if not “stay-at-home”) measures anywhere from 12 to 18 months. These may be constant or they may be intermittent. Either way, social distancing will change the cataract and refractive surgery landscape for the foreseeable future.
Consider a typical reception/waiting room that’s about 7×7 metres (23×23 feet) with 32 chairs all neatly placed together – set mere inches apart. Now take those chairs and distance them by 6 feet/2 metres each – in every direction. Now, in a space you could fit 32 people, you can only fit 9 chairs. Your reception room capacity has just reduced by 72%.
Another important thing to remember is that no matter how safe you feel your environment is, people who’ve avoided restaurants for two months aren’t about to go out for dinner twice a week. Once people realise how easy and efficient virtual appointments can be, they will demand them as part of the patient onboarding mix.
How can video appointments help you?
In one short 15 to 20-minute video appointment, you can deliver a valuable and accessible service that will serve many needs, including:
- To be available and present
- To convert your prospective patient to the next available face-to-face appointment, helping to maintain your patient pipeline so that you have a waitlist for your elective surgery services for when re-open your clinic
- To keep in touch with patients (post-op)
- To pre-screen patients (pre-op)
- To answer FAQs
Is it easy to offer video appointments?
Yes and no.
If you want an effective video appointment set-up that seamlessly integrates with your website, online scheduling system and calendar, you need to do your research. There are lots of moving parts which need to be carefully considered to make this service work properly.
Once you have the right tech in place you need to personalise it so that it functions the way you need it to and ensure that it integrates aesthetically to create a branded experience that your patients will trust and enjoy.
You then need to decide who will be hosting these appointments, what the appointment agenda will look like and how you intend to gather all of the necessary medical information prior to the appointment to make it worthwhile.
Finally, you need to figure out how you’re going to drive awareness to your video appointments so that people know it exists as an option.
What tech stack do you need?
To get started with video appointments you will need:
- Online scheduling tool (Calendly)
- Online calendar (Google calendar)
- Meeting organizer (Zoom)
- A payment processor (Stripe)
- Customer relationship manager (CRM)
- An online automation and integration tool (Zappier)
Once you have installed an online scheduling tool such as Calendly, you can set your availability, create appointment types, sync the program with your other calendars and set up reminder emails and texts.
You then use Zapier to set up a ‘zap’ that automatically adds people who scheduled an online appointment into your CRM.
You can then add your scheduled video appointments into an email nurture sequence so that the person who books receives any information they need to prepare for the appointment and to keep them excited while they wait.
Why do you recommend Calendly?
After carefully assessing and comparing the top online booking system software, we chose Calendly. Calendly is a powerful yet straightforward automated scheduling tool which can be embedded directly into your website, launched from any social media platform or work entirely on its own.
Calendly integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook, and checks all calendars for conflicts to avoid double-booking. It also adds new events to your calendars automatically.
The software is fully optimised for desktops, phones and tablets, ensuring invitees have no compatibility issues while running the software on their devices.
Want to see how easy it is, check out Laura Livesey’s online booking system, directly connected to her real-time diary, right here.
Calendly gives you three memberships to choose from; basic, premium and pro. The best one for you will depend on how many people in your team need a Calendly account and any added features you require. We will explain these features in more detail later in this post.
per user / month
per user / month
To set up Calendly, you will need a username and password. Once you have connected your Google Calendar (or other supported Calendar) to Calendly, you can create up to 6 calendar connections. Importantly, these are not separate individuals, but up to 6 calendars are belonging to the same person on the Basic plan. For example, you might have one calendar you use at one facility, and another calendar you use at another facility.
If you’re part of a team and more than one of you is available for appointments, then the best practice is to have one Calendly account for each of you. This will require you to sign up for the Premium membership so that you can set up a “Team” account to link individuals together so that they can be booked for mutual events based on more than one person’s availability. You can see LiveseySolar’s team calendar here, showing merged diaries for Rod Solar and Laura Livesey.
Customise your Calendly
The next stage is to log in to your Chrome profile and boot-up your Calendly dashboard. You can then customise your settings so that your Calendly knows all of your preferences and how you wish to operate. This involves setting all the basics such as your country, language and display picture.
Once you’ve set all the basics, it’s time to configure the type of ‘event’ or appointment you wish to make available to your patients. This includes setting times, locations and descriptions so that your patients know what’s involved before they book. You can also tailor the duration of the appointment, the date range, time buffers and your availability.
Next, it’s time to fill out your “Invitee Questions” – these are the questions you may want to ask prospective patients when booking. For example, their name, email and the number one reason they’re considering vision correction.
Once you’ve added your questions, you can set-up how you want to be notified. Email notifications are standard with all Calendly accounts. However, if you wish to receive text notifications, you will have to upgrade to a Pro membership account. This is a worthwhile investment as the Pro membership will also allow you to send SMS text messages to patients from the events, and It can redirect them to a thank you page on your website which is useful for tracking via analytics.
The next decision you will need to make is whether you want to collect payments. Collecting payments via Paypal or Stripe is only available to pro members.
Once this is all done, you will have successfully created your first event and can start to take video appointment bookings!
If you offer different types of booking, you can clone the first event you created and edit it. You can do this as many times as you like.
Marketing your video appointments
To ensure you drive awareness to your video appointments, consider the following channels:
- Marketing on your website
- Marketing on social media: organic, retargeting and cold traffic
- Marketing to your email list: initial and CTA’s
- Google: via paid traffic and using your Google My Business Page
To prepare for your website for the video appointments, you will need to include the online scheduler link. You can add the link to the menu button on your website that leads to a content page which includes the Calandly booking form and any information you want to include about the online appointment.
You could also add a pop-up banner to your website advertising the online appointment, send out an email blast to your list and add the online scheduler link to your social media pages.