How to Develop a Doctor Appointment Booking System

by Olha Zubarieva

Emerging technologies are changing the healthcare industry as we know it, as they automate the personnel’s routine tasks while improving the quality of care. Doctor appointment booking software is one of those innovations. 

According to a 2019 survey, healthcare providers’ digital capabilities, including a doctor appointment booking system, were increasingly important for patients. Their role is surely only growing now due to the Covid pandemic.

The market for medical scheduling software is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% and exceed US $600 million by 2026. Healthcare providers are willing to pay for quality systems that would help manage their doctor appointments and other activities more effectively. So now is a great time to bring new solutions to the market.

In this article, we will discuss the main benefits of mobile apps for doctor appointment booking, their essential features, and the steps of the development process. 

Benefits of Using a Doctor Appointment Booking System

Doctor appointment software is one of those medical technologies that actually make the lives of patients, doctors, and administration easier. 

Let’s take a closer look at how exactly the doctor appointment mobile app benefits everyone.

Reducing Patient Wait Times

Patient waiting time refers to a patient wait in the hospital before receiving medical services. Its length largely determines a patient’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the healthcare provider.

Modern software helps with reducing patient wait times. A doctor appointment mobile app enables patients to monitor the schedule of the doctor they need to see. They can find a slot most suitable for them and check themselves in immediately. Moreover, the system sends notifications to both patients and doctors when there is an upcoming appointment.

Moreover, patients are more likely to choose a provider with short clinic wait times, so a doctor appointment booking app gives healthcare providers a competitive advantage.

Cutting Costs

According to the extensive research “Appointment scheduling in healthcare: Challenges and opportunities”, appointment scheduling problems can be formulated either as cost minimization problems or as revenue maximization problems. Doctor appointment booking systems have a direct influence on cutting costs. 

In the U.S. alone, the healthcare system loses $150 billion a year because of patients who don’t show up. 


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A doctor appointment booking system helps decrease the no-show ratio in several ways. First of all, it sends notifications to the patient. It helps with patients who simply forget that they have booked an appointment. Secondly, a notification can work as a reminder to cancel an appointment instead of simply missing the visit. If it is canceled well in advance, the doctor will be more likely to see other patients who want to visit. Thirdly, if a physician is fully booked, patients may receive notifications when new slots open. Consequently, if a patient cancels, others will know and immediately book that opening in the schedule. 

Simplifying the Process of Finding a Doctor

A hospital’s appointment booking app usually has a listing of doctors. When a patient needs an appointment urgently but sees that their doctor is fully booked, they may look at the schedules of other available doctors at a specific hospital instead of turning to the competitor. 

Increasing Patient Satisfaction

It is not only the appointment scheduling that an app has to offer. A variety of features can make many things more accessible. For example:

  • Patients can get ePrescriptions and avoid visiting doctors every time they need renewal. This is useful for patients with chronic diseases, especially during the pandemic. 
  • Patients can pay online without leaving the house and clearly see what they are paying for. 

In a nutshell, patients feel like the healthcare provider really does its best to meet their needs, makes care more accessible, that they are actually listened to and taken care of. Consequently, appointment booking mobile apps help hospitals to attract customers and retain them through higher satisfaction levels.

To be useful for patients, doctors, and administration, a doctor appointment mobile app should incorporate a variety of features. Let’s review the most common features of these apps.

Features of a Doctor Appointment Mobile App

The app needs to be used by both patients and doctors, and the system has different interfaces for each party. Therefore, the first thing patients and doctors need to see after opening the app is the question of who they want to interact with.

Core Features of the Patient’s App Version

Doctor Listings

Doctor listings help patients find the doctors with the needed qualifications. The doctor appointment booking app should have an effective filter feature, so that patients don’t waste time scrolling through all the doctor profiles. Patients may want to search for specific types of treatment, expertise, years of experience, rating, location, etc.

Patient Profile

It is not only doctors who have to share information about themselves. Patient profiles should contain their electronic health record, results from various examinations, and lab tests. It is essential that both patients and doctors can update and attach documentation to patient profiles. 

Notifications

There are several types of notifications that a patient might need:

  • Notifications about upcoming appointments help patients not to forget about them. 
  • Notifications of updates in the doctor’s schedule help patients to quickly book an opening.
  • Updates in patients’ profiles help patients and doctors see lab test results promptly. 
  • Medication reminders help patients to follow the doctor’s recommendations.
  • Follow-up visit reminders, payment notifications, or reminders to fill out the symptom checker should also be included in the app.

Core Features of the Doctor’s App Version

Doctor’s Profile

A doctor’s profile should contain information including expertise, location, certifications, languages spoken, patient’s reviews, years of experience, etc. It is important to allow doctors to update their profile and include photos. 

Some appointment-scheduling apps allow doctors to post updates about their practice, tips for better health, etc. Such information helps patients make a well-informed decision on which doctor to visit.

Patient Database

The database should contain detailed information about each patient, their medical history, lab test results, prescription history, and personal information. Having quick access to this data enables doctors to make well-informed decisions and eliminates the need to perform the complete health assessment again.

Shared Core Features

Shared features are actively used by both parties, but doctors and patients need them for different purposes. They include:

Appointment Management

Doctors should be able to see new appointments as soon as they appear and to edit and update their schedules in real time. 

Patients should be able to see the doctors’ real-time schedules and book appointments easily. It is also helpful to enable them to monitor the schedule of a certain physician and be notified as soon as there are available time slots with their doctor or a specialist they looked for. 

eBilling and Payment

Doctors should have the ability to add bills for customers, to review all the billing details, and to pay using one of the most popular gateways. A card scanning feature would ensure an even better customer experience. 

Add-On Features

A doctor appointment booking app doesn’t necessarily need to have all of the following add-on features to be successful. However, these features can definitely enhance the user experience and give you a competitive edge:

Map

Doctors often visit their patients outside the hospitals. It will be easier for them to plan the routes and save their commuting time with a map.

Map integration can be useful for patients as well. They may search for healthcare services in the vicinity and find a faster way to the hospital.

ePrescriptions

ePrescriptions allow doctors to see previous prescription history, allergies, and other warnings quickly. Automation helps prevent prescription errors, reduces time spent on prescriptions and, distributing them to patients. 

Online Video Conferencing

Telemedicine, including online examinations, it is a great way to save time and money for both patients and doctors. The telemedicine market size already reached $45.5 billion in 2019, and after March 2020, with approximately 41% of adults in the U.S. delaying or avoiding in-private appointments due to Covid-19, a real boom began. Now, telemedicine features may be a game-changer as they help avoid the risks connected to visiting hospitals during the pandemic.  

Health Monitoring and Symptom Checker

Some patients need to regularly check on their health. Make it easier for them with the help of health monitoring features. Let them monitor their physical activity, check their heart rate, etc. 

Symptom checkers may help individuals notice negative changes in the health condition and choose the doctor based on the detected symptoms. 

The app’s set of features may vary from case to case. You can build a custom appointment booking and management app for a specific chain of hospitals or sell your product as a one-size-fits-all service to multiple businesses and individuals. In the latter case, the possible monetization strategy should be thoroughly considered long before you embark on your patient and doctor app development. 

Revenue Models of Online Doctor Appointment Systems

Here are the most popular monetization models for doctor appointment mobile apps: 

Subscription-Based Model

The subscription-based model of monetizing a doctor appointment mobile app is often called the ZocDoc business model. This app has managed to aggregate a monthly audience of 6 Million patients helping them book appointments with doctors across 50 specialties. 

How does ZocDoc work? The app is completely free for patients, but doctors pay a flat annual fee of $3,000 for being featured in the list of available healthcare professionals.

Advertisements 

You can offer free access to both doctors and patients and generate revenue by displaying advertisements that are relevant to users. However, it’s important for ads not to interfere with user experience and not to be overwhelming. 

Paid Features 

Consider adding paid features as part of your prime membership for patients. For example, you can offer video consultations or personal health advice for a fee. 

A Commission System 

This option implies that the doctors pay a portion of their revenue as a commission for every appointment booked through the app.

Paid Listing 

This option derives from the ZocDoc revenue model which offers doctors an opportunity to be featured in paid listings. Doctors who pay will appear at the beginning of the listing, which potentially would increase the amount of booked appointments.

By combining various monetization methods, you can maximize the revenue of your doctor appointment booking mobile app. The next chapter provides a step-by-step guide on where to start and how to organize your patient and doctor app development in the most efficient way.  

Steps to Build a Medical Appointments Mobile App

#1 Market and Customer Research

The first step is to research and analyze the market. Take a look at what your competitors got right and wrong, ask end-users what they lack in a typical doctor appointment booking system, and analyze the features that are used and unused. Research what devices your target audience prefers. If your budget is limited, the choice of the operating platform on which to launch your app first will be a crucial decision.

#2 Selection of the Essential MVP Features

To quickly test your idea and evaluate the potential of your doctor appointment booking mobile app, you can build a minimum viable product (MVP) with the fundamental features only. Developing an MVP is a great way to reach the market faster. This minimalistic version will be tested on the first adopters who will promptly give their feedback. Based on that, you can either make the necessary adjustments early and further develop the software, or close the project altogether, avoiding the expenses you might incur developing a full-on system.

) with the fundamental features only. Developing an MVP is a great way to reach the market faster. This minimalistic version will be tested on the first adopters who will promptly give their feedback. Based on that, you can either make the necessary adjustments early and further develop the software, or close the project altogether, avoiding the expenses you might incur developing a full-on system.

#3 Design Creation

You’ll want a thorough approach to creating your doctor appointment mobile app’s design. The main purpose of UI/UX in healthcare applications is to make all the needed information  accessible and to simplify navigation for both patients and medical staff. 

#4 Ensuring Adherence to all the Legal Security Requirements  

When developing software for the healthcare industry, you will need to take into account the legal regulations in the country where the mobile app will be used. Special attention to data security helps you protect the patients’ information but also avoid huge fines. Non-compliance may cost up to $50,000 per violation in the U.S., not to mention the effort to notify all concerned users, go through the legal proceedings, and endure the possible loss of your reputation. 

#5 Software Development 

First of all, you need to decide who would develop your doctor appointment mobile app: your in-house developers, remote software developers, or an outsourcing vendor. The choice between these options would depend on your budget, time frame, project requirements, and business goals. 

A doctor appointment app development requires significant skill sets considering how complex its functionality can be. You will want a team with experience in technologies including:

  • Almost any modern programming language can be used for back-end development
  • Kotlin, Swift, Flutter, or React Native for front-end development
  • Push.io, Firebase, or Twilio for push notifications
  • Nexmo or Twilio for in-app chat and video calls
  • PostgreSQL, Hbase, or Cassandra for database
  • Amazon Payments, ApplePay, PayPal, GooglePay, Stripe, etc.
  • Google, Microsoft Azure, and AWS for cloud-based solutions

#6 Testing

Thorough testing is needed to detect bugs and launch a stable, secure first version of the mobile app. Otherwise, you may jeopardize losing the attention and respect of the healthcare community. 

It’s also essential to update your app continuously and add new features to stay relevant!

Example of Doctor App Development

The Alternative-spaces team has experience developing doctor appointment software.

For example, recently, a small medical clinic and doctor service approached us with the need to schedule numerous house calls. A group of doctors regularly visits patients at home, nursing home, and hospital. Up to 12 patients are usually assigned to each doctor every day. The client wanted to optimize the scheduling process, minimize the number of errors, and make the doctor’s work easier through greater convenience.

Alternative-spaces’ web developers created software that enables doctors to manage their schedules by confirming and adding patients, change the patient order, review their records easily, add new notes, and more. Our solution is integrated with Google Maps, so when administrators plan the doctors’ house calls, the software’s algorithms create their daily routes based on patients’ locations, the distance between patients, and the doctor’s working time.

We chose a minimalistic design to ensure that it will be easy for the users to concentrate on their work and to navigate the app intuitively. The resulting app fulfills the tasks effectively and the client’s business has adopted it easily. 

The idea was realized as a progressive web application that administrators can use on desktop computers or tablets and the doctors – on tablets and smartphones. However, if needed, the solution can be re-written in Flutter or React Native to work as a native mobile app on iPhones, iPads, or Android devices.

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Doctor Appointment App?

There is no precise answer to this question. The cost of mobile app development may depend on many factors: how complex you want the solution to be, whether you outsource or have an in-house team, whether you want cross-app development, etc. 

If you are looking for a reliable software development vendor to create a mobile or web-based appointment scheduling app, please feel free to book a free consultation with Alternative-spaces. Our team has extensive experience in healthcare software development and knows how to create an effective, HIPAA-compliant, and intuitive doctor appointment booking system that meets your business goals. Our experts can quickly assess your app idea, offer the best possible solution, and estimate the project cost.

Content created by our partner, Onix-systems.


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