A new report from Accenture estimates that by 2019, two-thirds of US health systems will offer patients the opportunity to digitally self-schedule physician appointments. By reducing the time spent scheduling and rescheduling (an average of 8 minutes per phone appointment versus less than a minute for online self-scheduling), this simple change could save the health care system an estimated $3.2 billion.
Accenture says that nationwide, 11% of health systems currently offer self-scheduling of appointments, but only 2.4% of patients who have the opportunity take advantage of it. That may be partly because retirees—a population that generally prefers conducting business by phone—make up nearly half of the US population. Still, a recent Accenture survey indicated that 77% of patients thought that the ability to book, change, or cancel medical appointments online was important.