February 5, 2020 Blog

Medical Scheduling Systems: Free vs. Paid Version

Humans are very forgetful creatures. In the  quest to stabilize our work-life balance, we inevitably end up deprioritizing and forgetting some aspects of our daily lives, some of them very important.

One of them is our health and we often end up missing a couple of doctor’s appointments. Hence, there is a constant need for reminders to keep us on track. 

It is crucial for clinics and hospitals, especially fledging institutions, to have a robust scheduling system to ensure a consistent turnout of their patients and a secure stream of revenue.

With the advent of modern technology, it has become smoother and more efficient to manage this crucial aspect with the use of software solutions.

However, with all the good things in life, there comes a cost. This article will attempt to outline the pros and cons of using both free and paid versions of popular software solutions for your institution.


Why Medical Scheduling Systems Are Important:

One of the most crucial factors determining the effectiveness and profitability of your hospital or clinic is the percentage of your patients that show up for their appointments.

However, it is difficult and time-consuming to manually record and manage patient bookings. It also presents a greater risk of errors and exacerbates stress for the personnel involved.

However, using an automated scheduling system will reduce errors and improve efficiency due to its greater diligence and wider overall functionality.

You do not have to worry about having to check the details of every single patient as the entire process is automated and presented clearly and intuitively.

The information can also be edited at any time. With online scheduling systems, there is 24/7 support and online booking which is a lifesaver for patients looking for treatment at odd hours or during emergencies.

They can also book themselves at a time slot that is convenient for them and timely reminders ensure that both you and your patients do not forget about scheduled appointments.

Overall, medical scheduling systems can save time, streamline administrative processes, prevent patient no-shows, improve patient experience, allow better organization and ensure smooth billing.


The Pros and Cons of Free and Paid Apps:

We will now take a look at the differences between free and paid medical scheduling systems.


Free Apps:

1) Ability To Test Products:

Small clinics and hospitals often do not have the budget to invest in a fully integrated scheduling system.

For them, having the ability to use and test products free of cost is a blessing.

Many prominent firms provide free versions of their scheduling systems to build trust in the final product by carrying out trials.

On the other hand, paid systems require you to provide commitment in the form of funds and subscription plans.

Free apps serve as a wonderful gateway to the world of software solutions and incentivize executives to allocate funds and invest in them.

Each application has its own set of features, advantages, and disadvantages. Therefore, this is a great opportunity to try out different systems to find the one that suits your needs.

Patients who have to undergo a series of tests at different locations can be handled flexibly and efficiently.

2) Saves Money with No Need for Investment:

Multiple researches and surveys have shown that missed or canceled appointments account for a significant loss in the revenue of hospitals.

Even the United States Healthcare System lose around 150 billion dollars due to patient no-shows.

Scheduling software saves a lot of money in this regard and the extra revenue can be used to promote growth and diversification.

This is because the basic functions of maintaining a record, reminding patients about appointments and tracking their progress are all present in the free version.

These apps require virtually no investment and can start saving money from day one. The results are immediate and effective.

3) Lack Of Specialized Features:

The biggest disadvantage of free apps is that they lack specific medical features that are crucial for hospitals.

They also have a limit on the number of appointments that can be tracked and regulated. Firms looking to expand may have to switch over to paid apps.


Paid Apps:

1) Access To Powerful, Convenient Features:

Paid apps typically offer a greater capacity for reservations and ancillary features that range from being substantial additions to incremental updates for more convenience.

They also provide features and functionality that is more suited to medical practitioners.

Features include automatic syncing to Google Calendar and iCloud, integration with accounting, sales and customer resource management (CRM) apps, online meetings, bulk emailing and reminders and the ability to accept payments through popular methods like PayPal.

These apps also let you customize them to your liking and include ease of life features that save time, reduce errors and ensure smooth operation.

You can even send gift certificates, progress reports and appointment packages to your patients.

All the information is automatically generated and presented in an intuitive format.

Patients can even book themselves in and appointments can be copied/transferred with one click, thus eliminating the need for manual typing.

2) Subscription Plans:

However, all the features are not readily available. Each subscription plan has its own set of features which typically increase in complexity and functionality as you move up the pricing.

This allows professionals to assess their existing processes and decide which plan is best for them. For example, a rapidly growing business would benefit the most from a mid-tier subscription plan, while those starting would opt for an entry-level plan.

This encourages a constant stream of investment into scheduling systems. Businesses will be incentivized to look for ways to improve, expand their reach and gain a competitive advantage.

3) Greater Cost and Strings Attached:

The biggest downside to using paid apps is that they can be expensive. The pricing increases quite drastically as you move up subscription plans and it is a fixed cost that must be paid irrespective of revenue or profit.

Thus, it is crucial to calculate the Return on Investment before making any choice. This requires hiring analysts and specialized personnel which incurs its costs.

It is also difficult and time-consuming to switch from one system to the other.


Conclusion:

While there are pros and cons to both, there are apps that provide both a free and paid version. Popular apps of this sort include Acuity Scheduling, Simply Book and Practice Suite. Scheduling systems have the potential to massively benefit your business. The choice, ultimately, rests on your hands.

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