Hollywood has a lot to answer for!
Growing up, I was giddy with anticipation for the fantastical gadgets and technology promised by movies and TV.
I looked forward to being woken up by my robot butler, toasting my bread with a tiny lightsabre, teleporting between places, and unwinding with a spot of hoverboarding.
Was that too much to hope for?
Instead, I get a watch that body shames me, a ‘smart assistant’ that ignores most of my commands, and a robot vacuum that harasses my dog for ten minutes before getting stuck under the sofa.
Having said that, it would be unfair to claim all modern technology is rubbish. There have been plenty of brilliant inventions over the last few decades.
The world would be a much darker place without such marvels of technology as superfast broadband, GPS navigation, and fidget spinners.
In the workplace, apps and software have changed the way we work by automating tasks and processes that were formerly arduous and time-consuming.
For clinics, nowhere is this more useful than with booking management systems.
Previously, your customers would have to call up, you’d flick through a physical diary to check the clinic’s availability, manually enter the patient and appointment details, and then you just crossed your fingers and hoped they actually turned up on the right day at the right time.
With a booking management tool, this whole process can be digitised. Including booking confirmations, reminders, automation, and more.
This is obviously better, but deciding which of these tools to use can be hella overwhelming.
This is why in this article, we’ll compare the popular scheduling tool Calendly with the booking features in the clinic management app Pabau.
What is a clinic booking management system?
As we’ve already alluded to, a booking management system is a tool designed to streamline and automate the appointment booking process for clinics and their patients.
It’s essentially a central platform for managing the entire appointment lifecycle, from booking to follow-up. Here are some of the common features:
- Appointment Scheduling: You can log in to view availability, book new appointments, and manage existing appointments
- Patient Self-Scheduling: What’s better than you booking the appointment? Someone else doing it! With self-scheduling, your patients can book and manage their own appointments.
- Automated Reminders: No one likes calling out a name to a waiting room of blank faces. So a good booking management system will send reminders via SMS or email to make this as rare as possible.
- Calendar Integration: A booking system only works if everyone knows when the appointments are. By syncing with your calendars, everyone knows exactly what’s coming up.
- Customisation: Every clinic is different, so you need your booking system to be flexible. Being able to add custom fields and define your own automations makes this possible.
- Resource Management: An appointment is more than just a clinician and a patient. Being able to also book rooms and equipment from the same system ensures everything is prepared for the appointment.
Benefits of using a clinic booking management system
OK, so these apps might not help you escape a 40-year-old high school bully following a confrontation in a diner, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of benefits.
(Note: I’m as surprised as you are that I keep referencing Back to the Future Part II in a blog about appointment scheduling)
For a start, automating most of the booking process makes the whole thing much more efficient. Instead of the back and forth, it’s easy to see availability and find a good time.
An online booking system also saves time, for both administrative staff and your customers. Appointments can simply be booked online without having to come into the clinic or talk to someone on the phone.
And when you save time, you ultimately save money too. Automating the booking process lowers administrative costs and reduces the reliance on support staff to handle calls. By simplifying the process and sending reminders, you also reduce the number of costly no-shows.
The combination of these things also means you’ve improved the overall customer experience you provide. By giving them this convenience and flexibility, your patients will be much more satisfied with the service they get and will be more likely to come back and recommend your clinic to friends and family.
What is Calendly?
Calendly is an online scheduling tool that helps individuals and businesses simplify their appointment booking process.
Features vary depending on your subscription, but essentially you set up your own ‘Event Types’, where you can configure your availability, invitee questions, notifications, etc. You can then share a link to this event, where the recipient can choose a time you’re both available to book a meeting/appointment.
The platform has become popular over recent years for a few reasons:
- It has a decent free tier, making it accessible to those with low budgets who don’t need the more advanced features
- It integrates with popular calendar apps like Google Calendar, Outlook, and iCloud, as well as video call apps like Zoom and Google Meet
- It isn’t focused on one industry, which gives it a broad appeal
For clinics, though, the lack of industry focus quickly becomes a big limitation. Because it’s not been specifically designed for medical or aesthetics, it only solves part of the scheduling problem.
There’s no way to automatically link to health records, it’s not been designed for HIPAA compliance, and the customisations are very limited.
Also, without integrating with the rest of your clinic management system, you still end up with data silos. This creates its own problems and challenges, like not having a clear view of your patient’s info in one place.
Not to mention the additional cost of using multiple tools, rather than just paying for one that does it all.
Or, to put it another way, using Calendly for your bookings is like using chopsticks to eat soup. It’s better than burning your hands, but you’ll regret not picking up a spoon.
Pabau is more than a booking management system
Introducing: The spoon.
Pabau has been specially built to help clinics simplify and automate as many of their processes as possible. It’s an all-in-one practice management system that covers the key parts of running your business:
- Appointment scheduling
- Digital client records
- Point of sale
- Patient portal
- Marketing tools
- Staff management
- Reporting & analytics
As well as all this, we’ve also created an online booking system, specifically for the needs of medical and aesthetic clinics.
Just like Calendly, you can embed it on your website or social media profile, so customers can book appointments any time, wherever they are. It also updates your schedule in real time, so you can always trust that your calendar is up-to-date.
We also give you detailed tracking and analytics, so you can gather insights to help make better decisions.
As well as these, we’ve also included a number of power features to help clinics get more benefits, and improve the experience of their customers.
To make your lives as easy as possible, we’ve included a lot of automation with our booking system.
You can set it to send confirmation messages, remind the customer before the appointment, deliver pre-care and aftercare information, and request a review after the appointment.
These messages will be sent automatically, and they can be sent by email, SMS, or both.
This not only improves service for your customers but also reduces no-shows and saves time gathering info.
Room & equipment booking
Appointments are more than just two or more people being available at the same time. You need to know where the appointment is happening, and you may also need specialised equipment for different bookings.
This isn’t possible with generic booking systems, but with Pabau you can check the availability of rooms and equipment, and book what you need.
This gives you full control over your appointments and ensures everything is ready for every customer. It also minimises those times when equipment or rooms are double booked.
We understand that sometimes appointments include multiple people, and maybe even a whole class. With Pabau, you’re not limited to just one-on-one appointments.
This is easy to set up in Pabau, and all of the automation and other features work just the same with these larger appointments.
Payments & deposits
One of the biggest flaws of generic booking systems like Calendly is that even if they offer payment options, they’re very limited.
Most of the time, you need to be able to set different prices, take deposits, and offer different options.
This is exactly what you get with Pabau.
By taking deposits and payments at the time of booking, you not only automate that payment process, but also lower the risk of no-shows even further.
It’s a no-brainer
While Hollywood may have written cheques reality couldn’t cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t use tech to significantly improve your life.
For clinics, a specialist tool like Pabau can completely change the way your customers book appointments with you.
Where generic options like Calendly provide limited benefits, a tool that connects your bookings with the rest of your process improves the experience for both you and your team.