How Veterinarians Can Modernize Intake Process with Virtual Waitlist Apps

Virtual Waitlist App Helps Veterinarian Clinics Operate More Smoothly 

Virtual Waitlist App Helps Veterinarian Clinics Operate More Smoothly - NextME Waitlist App

If the global pandemic were to have a silver lining, the burst of tech innovation it’s brought about would be just that. Health care professionals have been required to alter their intake processes in an efficient and safe manner, and veterinarians are no exception. With most waiting rooms having restricted access and/or being closed, veterinarians implemented virtual waitlist apps to help them manage. The benefits have been eye opening and are presumed to permanently alter the way they do business for the better. 

In the past, waiting rooms at veterinarian clinics were extremely chaotic for an already stressed out, sick or anxious pet and their owner. The plethora of new smells in an unfamiliar area, a negative association with past care, or an interaction with another animal could cause tensions that made the entire experience miserable. However, with the embrace of waitlist technology, it no longer has to be this way. 

After the closure of waiting rooms during the pandemic, veterinarians quickly learned that technologies, such as NextME’s virtual waitlist app, are more than a temporary solution for easing these types of discomforts. They are a new way of doing things that can replace their outdated processes for the following reasons:

  1. The virtual communication platform quickly and efficiently helps the front desk manage an overwhelming amount of phone calls.
  2. The online customizable intake form used during self check-in allows staff to identify each client’s "reason for visit" so they can prioritize care more effectively.
  3. The data the app collects gives management an insight into operations, flow, and wait time averages so they can better prepare their staff for peak hours. 

And most importantly...

  1. Animals and their owners can wait comfortably in their cars or go for a calming walk prior to their appointment, as opposed to being crammed into a waiting room filled with anxious pets and owners.
  2. During the process of waiting, clients have the chance to engage with the clinic’s website and gain access to more useful pet resources. 

What started for veterinarians as an amazing way to minimize face-to-face interactions during the height of the pandemic is turning into a long-term solution.

How Waitlist Technology Works at the Veterinary Clinic

Waitlist technology may sound complicated, but good news, it really isn’t. NextME’s virtual waitlist system is a new category of service that helps veterinarians stay connected to their clients (the scaled, furry, and human ones) at all times, thus increasing overall satisfaction and retention

Here’s How NextME’s Self Check-In Feature Works:

Step 1. Clients check-in virtually by scanning a QR code or using an online widget via the veterinarian clinic’s website. This saves everyone time and energy. 

Step 2. The client receive an SMS text to the custom virtual waiting room where they can view their position in line, fill out any necessary paperwork, and visit the clinic’s website while they wait to learn more about services provided, special offerings, and/or informational tidbits like next step actions given a particular routine procedure. This gives real-time feedback and provides valuable resources to pet owners. 

Step 3. Clients receive a final text to check-in when it’s their turn for service.

Step 4. The veterinarian begins the session and the animal is taken well care of. It’s that simple! 

Another big advantage is reducing the cost of hiring an employee specifically to manage the check-in process via pen and paper. A NextMe client, who is also a veterinarian, was paying minimum wage for someone to oversee client check-ins and paying ~ $19,200 per year (assuming that staff member worked for $10/hour 5 days per week and was full-time). By implementing the waiting list app they saved time and money, while also providing all the other benefits listed above. 

"Pet Check has seen a dramatic increase in client satisfaction. We often have long wait times due to high volumes. Knowing how valuable time is, The NextMe app has given our clients the ability and freedom to utilize their time as they wait to have their furry companions be evaluated by the veterinarian."
                  - Maria Rebbecchi (management)

How NextMe’s Virtual Waitlist App Creates Furr-Ever Relationships

The NextMe Virtual Waitlist app has been helping savvy veterinarians maintain a well-organized and steady flow of appointments, as well as providing their clients with useful information before, during and after sessions to assure optimal care. Beyond the actual appointment, pet owners have the opportunity to engage with the clinic’s website and view alternative resources such as group or individual training sessions, best practices, wellness programs offered, dietary supplements, and so much more. It allows them to link to the vet clinic’s social media account, if applicable, and engage with their local animal community. All-in-all, waitlist technology has become one of the pandemic’s silver linings as it's proven to be a viable solution for achieving new standards, connecting clients to valuable information, and helping them feel a part of their greater animal-loving community.    

If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can streamline your veterinarian clinic’s operations in a safe and efficient manner, follow this link to contact us. Together we can form long-lasting solutions that promote furr-ever relationships. 


Appointment Booking Apps Give Solutions for COVID Vaccination: NextME Virtual Queue App

Appointment Booking Apps Give Solutions for COVID Vaccination

NextME Appointment Queue Helps the Healthcare Industry in Time of Need

Appointment Queue Helps the Healthcare Industry in Time of Need

To say that COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our local and global economies is an understatement, especially when it comes to the healthcare industry and our desperate need for innovative technologies. Governments, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare sectors of all types have been scrambling for over a year to bring this pandemic to an end. Their focus was first and foremost on the successful creation of a safe and effective vaccination. Now that this has been accomplished, we are turning all of our attention towards how to allocate and distribute limited supplies in a timely and efficient manner to billions of people. 

Providers are currently administering about 1.67 million doses per day according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. At the current pace, authorities are projecting that about half of the U.S. population will be at least partially vaccinated by the end of June, and nearly all by mid-November. To help accelerate these efforts, state and local health departments are turning to online appointment scheduling apps and communication software to help them scale up distribution. 

For instance, New York State’s Am I Eligible site provides an online eligibility form prior to being able to book an appointment. Once pre-approved, the website’s system allows for a limited number of appointments, whereby once they are filled, people go into a virtual “waiting room” that holds their place in line on a first-come, first-served basis. With an increase in traffic, the site has experienced some challenges, however it is dramatically helping healthcare units plan distributions, mitigate crowds, and keep people safe so they can administer COVID vaccinations more efficiently. 

Online Apps & Virtual Waiting Rooms Promote Positive Response 

NextME Virtual Waitlist App: Online Apps & Virtual Waiting Rooms Promote Positive Response 

Scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations has caused a sense of panic for many Americans, especially those within the eligible 65+ age category that are not as tech savvy as younger generations. Senior Living Homes, mobile medical units, hospitals, and pharmacies that are distributing the vaccine are looking for quick and viable solutions to help streamline the process so that more people can gain access to the vaccine. Beyond crowd control and/or managing long term waitlists, they are looking for ways to communicate real-time information in the easiest way possible so that:

  1. Patients are knowledgeable about what they need to do prior to their appointment.
  2. Upon a virtual check-in, they receive and are able to fill out important medical forms online.
  3. There is a virtual “waiting room” that communicates real time status so that patients stay informed as to where they are in line.
  4. In case of a no-show, the time sensitive vaccines are not wasted as the missed appointment can immediately be filled by an applicant within the virtual “waiting room.” 

Socioeconomic status and age, as they relate to access and/or a familiarity with online apps, have added to the fear that many Americans are already experiencing. In response, friends, family members, and volunteers across the U.S. are offering their time and services to provide more equal opportunity. For instance, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker opened call centers to help seniors book vaccine appointments, and in Seattle 17-year-old Arin Jaff began offering help to his immediate community after watching his grandparents struggle. These types of response are both palpable and necessary to achieve timely results that will save lives.  

Today’s Queue Solutions Require a Timely Exchange of Information

Information is incredibly valuable when it comes to booking a vaccination appointment, especially in regards to availability, eligibility, and real time status for long term waitlists. NextME’s appointment booking app is working to make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved, meaning both clients and the public. Their products integrate with other software platforms so that organizations are not required to revamp their entire system in order to receive the benefits of the additional services.  

Below is a high level overview of how NextME can work with other software platforms (without a deep integration) to manage long term waitlists. 

Step 1: Depending on how many vaccines are available, the NextME Administer is able to send out a mass email or text reminder using their preferred appointment software or it informs the contact list to come in on any given day as a walk-in during the hours of operation. 

Step 2: If a patient has an appointment, the administrator can drop NextME's URL into their custom SMS text reminders of their upcoming appointments for patients to check-in once they arrive to their parking lot. 

Step 3: NextME administrator will then see their patients' info populate into their mobile app as they arrive and can swipe and notify each patient to check in. 

NextME’s additional features that make the process even easier include: 

  • Check in QR Codes that walk-in patients can utilize.
  • Leverage our queue filter feature to help administrators triage patients according to their reason for visit
  • A “Geo-Fence” that enables the Client to control the distance a patient has to be from their vaccination site before they can check-in. 
  • The ability to control scheduled hours as to when self check-in forms are available to the public.

How NextMe’s Technology Can Help Mainstream Vaccination Distributions

NextME Virtual Waitlist App: How NextMe’s Technology Can Help Mainstream Vaccination DistributionsAt NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than reservation platforms. Our virtual waitlist software is a new category of service that helps organizations stay connected to their patients at all times, thus enabling more accurate scheduling processes for long-term waitlists. Beyond helping eliminate crowded waiting rooms, you can improve your customers’ experiences and provide them with important information as it relates to their healthcare.

Our SMS-based technology also provides a simpler solution for less-connected and less-tech savvy populations, such as people aged 65+ and those of lower socioeconomic status. According to 2019 Pew studies, more than 85% of people aged 65+ and 70% of households who make less than $30,000 per year own cell phones. This outpaces the number of people within the above demographic ranges that own computers or have broadband internet access. Unlike most vaccine administration sites and technologies, NextME requires only that patients have a cell phone number that can receive SMS messages in order to join and receive notifications about their place in the waitlist. 

The healthcare industry needs high-level solutions that will enable facilities to widely distribute as many vaccines as possible in an organized and fair manner. Online appointment scheduling and virtual waitlists aim to do precisely that. If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can streamline operations in a safe and efficient manner at your senior living home, mobile medical unit, hospital, and/or pharmacy, follow this link to contact us. Together we can make a difference in the well-being of our global communities.


How to Reduce Waiting Room Crowding and Limit the Spread of Illness During COVID-19

How To: Reduce Waiting Room Crowding and Limit the Spread of Illness During COVID-19: NextME Digital Waitlist App

Long wait times can hinder customer experience across a number of industries - from food services, to retail stores, to medical offices. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the potentially negative effects and dangers of overly crowded hospital waiting rooms and long wait times beyond an inconvenient patient experience. Specifically, they can increase the spread of illness to waiting patients and working staff. Similarly, long wait times create delays in treatment for the severely ill or injured patients - these scenarios can result in an increased risk of death for emergency departments. 

Guidelines for Reducing Waiting Room Crowding and Limiting the Spread of Disease

How To: Reduce Waiting Room Crowding and Limit the Spread of Illness During COVID-19: NextME Digital Waitlist App

With the increased risk that our current landscape brings, the OHSU School of Medicine has developed a set of guidelines to help reduce overcrowding and long wait times in emergency departments in order to improve patient experience and eliminate delayed patient care. Although these guidelines were made for emergency departments, they can be extended to cover waiting rooms across various clinics and physicians’ offices. Through interviewing top performing hospitals, OHSU School of Medicine narrowed down four Ways to reduce waiting room crowding, thus improving patient care. 

Support and Involvement of Medical Clinic Executives

First, a hospital or clinic must have strong support and involvement of their executive leadership teams. Cultural shifts happen from the top down and it’s imperative that leadership stands behind decisions made to keep waiting patients safe. Executives also control funding shifts and can set large projects in motion. 

Coordination and Involvement of All Medical Clinic Staff Members

Moving down the chain of command, a second way for hospitals to lessen patient wait times is for hospital care coordination to occur through the involvement of all staff members. For example, involving all staff members in the turnover process so multiple tasks can be done at once can open up more beds sooner for waiting patients.  

Use Predictive Analytics to Forecast Wait Times in Medical Clinics

NextME Predictive Analytics to Forecast Wait Times in Medical Clinics

Third, medical offices can leverage predictive analytics to forecast high traffic times and adjust their staff and practices accordingly. This can seem daunting and complicated for many local offices, but NextME is here to make it easy. Not only can NextME provide a digital waitlist and waiting room system to limit the number of patients physically waiting together, our predictive analytics help medical clinics analyze their existing practices. This includes quoting wait times for patients and determining how to adjust to make the process more efficient and seamless. NextME has already helped Mid City Pediatrics, a physician's clinic in Louisiana, to improve their waiting room process during the Coronavirus pandemic. When the clinic began testing for COVID-19, they needed to pivot away from their existing waiting room set up to implement new protocols that keep patients and staff as safe as possible. As part of this protocol, they began screening patients at the door, asking patients to fill out virtual paperwork through NextME, and allowing symptomatic patients to wait in their vehicles until they received a text via NextME that it was their turn to be seen. As a result, Mid City was able to eliminate their crowded waiting rooms, implement contactless check-in procedures, separate sick patients from the healthy ones, and increase overall waiting room efficiency by using virtual paperwork and a text message-based apportionment system. 

High Staff Accountability

Finally, tying all of these concepts together leads to high staff accountability. Ensuring hospital and clinic staff are involved, knowledgeable, and responsible for their tasks in the hospital will help lower wait times, potentially saving lives. 

Implementing these 4 steps to improve the efficiency of waiting rooms is more important now than ever.

COVID-19 is changing the landscape and consequences of crowded waiting rooms, and of patients’ willingness to enter those wait rooms. As we all begin to re-enter our communities, a new normal is needed to ensure the safety of patients across the country. Now might just be the perfect time to explore how a digital waitlist can move your business and organization forward into this new normal. Request a NextME demo today to discuss what we can do for you.


The New Normal - Managing Appointments and Virtual Waitlists During COVID-19

We’re deep in the middle of a global pandemic. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has changed almost every facet of life, the whole world round. For those essential businesses still allowed to be open, it’s vital to manage customer flow so that there are no crowds of people passing around the virus at your location. 

Some businesses, like doctor’s offices and restaurants offering takeout, are used to the waiting area concept. This means as clients arrive, they check-in and then wait in a designated area until it’s their turn to be served. Other businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies, are used to just allowing customers to come and go as they please. But at peak times there may be long lines and crowds. In the midst of COVID-19, we can do better.

Emerging Best Practices on Digital Care in the Medical Sector

Fortunately, there are a number of ways essential businesses can still serve their clients without risking the health of everyone involved. The CDC has recommended we all keep at least 6 feet of space between ourselves and others. They’re also suggesting we all wear face masks to ensure that we are not spreading the virus even though we may be asymptomatic. But how does a doctor’s office still manage to still see patients without allowing them to congregate in a waiting room? How does a takeout service get meals to customers during the dinner rush without a line forming? Here are three ideas we’re seeing implemented across a wide variety of businesses.

Virtual Waiting Rooms 

Managing Appointments and Virtual Waitlists During COVID - Virtual Waiting Rooms

Photo Courtesy of Textedly

Rather than gathering in a crowd at the front of a restaurant or healthcare clinic, many businesses are implementing virtual waiting rooms. The idea is to allow people to check-in digitally and then wait in their cars or outside where they can maintain at least a six-foot distance around themselves. When it’s time for them to receive service or be allowed inside, they’ll receive a text message alerting them to come in. 

Drive-Thru or Curbside Service 

Managing Appointments and Virtual Waitlists During COVID - Drive-Thru Service

Photo Courtesy of U.S. News & World Report

We’re all familiar with the concept of a drive-thru in fast-food restaurants or our favorite coffee chain. But this idea is going far beyond hamburgers and fries. Large sit-down restaurants are making use of “curbside service” as are retailers. Customers place an order with a click or call and then park in front of the business. When their food is ready, their groceries are bagged, or it’s their turn to be tested for the virus, the business’s staff comes to them and offers service at their car. It’s not unlike the carhops of the 50s and 60s, but it’s now being practiced in all sorts of businesses. 

Remote Service

Managing Appointments and Virtual Waitlists During COVID - Remote Service

Photo Courtesy of The Business Times

Finally, the best option for social distancing is remote service. This includes contactless home delivery and virtual visits for service companies. One of the top industries for this type of service is medical care. For many medical concerns, a simple telemedicine appointment can diagnose and offer treatment options without the need to break quarantine. We’re also seeing many delivery services being used more than normal, including grocery shoppers like Instacart and Shipt or meal delivery services from Uber Eats or GrubHub.

How NextME Helps Essential Businesses Implement and Manage Virtual Queues

The best practices above may seem like a nightmare to manage if you’ve never done it before. How do you keep track of all those customers and notify them in a timely manner when it’s their turn? With the help of NextME, of course. 

NextME is a virtual waitlist management system. Whether you’re managing a digital waiting room, a parking lot full of drive-up customers, or a queue of remote appointments, this simple app can help. The app was originally designed with restaurants in mind but has moved well beyond its origins. It’s been used to great effect in the event marketing world and is now moving into other industries like salons, repair services, retail, healthcare, and beyond. 

Managing Appointments and Virtual Waitlists During COVID

Here’s how it works. A customer or client checks in, whether from their home or from their car using NextMe's online portal on your website. Your patron's info populates into your waitlist app and patrons receive a separate text with a link in it. When they tap the web link found in their SMS text, they arrive at your custom branded waiting page. There they’ll see a countdown timer letting them know where they are in line. But they can also see your custom queue management process, carry out specials, retail sales promotions, service provider information, social media links, or anything else you want to share. When it’s almost their turn, they’ll get another text asking them to confirm. They can reply with a simple yes or no and either come inside or stay put and wait for you to come to them. 

The best parts? No mobile app for your customers to have to install. Everything is done by SMS and their preferred web browser. And you can integrate appointments made in advance with same day service requests – no additional software needed. 

Not sure this would work outside the restaurant model? Check out what Kasey Osbon, office manager for Mid City Pediatrics said. “Even prior to COVID-19, we’ve been looking for a digital waitlist system like NextME for years. Moving forward, we can now assure our patients that they can wait and check into our facility in a safe and efficient manner.”

The New “Normal” 

You may think it’s just easier to go with a pen and paper waitlist for the next few weeks until things get back to normal. Unfortunately, this pandemic may not let us off so easily. 

Experts agree that there’s likely to be a new normal, even after the stay at home orders are lifted. When “shelter in place” is no longer required, the virus will still be out there. We’re likely to continue to see waves of infection until a vaccine is created and distributed. That means your business will still want to maintain these best practices long after the current rules have expired. It’s the safest way to protect your customers, your employees, and the community at large.

NextME Virtual Online Waitilst - COVID-19

A virtual waiting list is also more convenient for customers. Instead of sitting in a crowded waiting area, they can run an errand, take a stroll around the block, or just soak up the sunshine outside. So even after Coronavirus is little more than a bad memory, this technology can help your business grow and thrive.

Now might just be the perfect time to explore how a digital waitlist can move your business forward into this new normal. Request a NextME demo today to discuss what we can do for you.