Facebook to Offer Appointment Booking via Messenger

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Facebook’s latest update includes a booking feature on Messenger that allows patients to schedule appointments directly from the app.

At its 2019 F8 conference, Facebook announced it will be rolling out some exciting new features for businesses. These include lead generation templates that prompt an automated question and answer flow in Messenger, as well as an appointment booking interface.

For healthcare providers, this booking interface offers the chance to engage with potential patients from within the Messenger platform. This tool will integrate with existing calendar systems, allowing patients to view a practice’s availability and schedule an appointment directly from the app.

The booking feature is currently in beta testing, but is expected to become available to all businesses later this year. Here’s what healthcare providers need to know about Facebook’s latest updates, and how medical marketers can use Messenger’s new capabilities to engage with patients.

Updates to Facebook Messenger

Messenger offers businesses a powerful platform to connect with consumers. According to Facebook’s own data, users and businesses are exchanging over 20 billion messages on the app each month. The opportunities for engagement are as numerous as they are powerful. For instance, by using Messenger to answer FAQs or send important event reminders, companies can connect with consumers in a more direct and personal way.

As an extension of Messenger’s existing capabilities, the new booking feature offers HCPs the chance to reach patients on a platform where they’re already searching for healthcare information. The interface integrates with existing calendar systems, enabling patients to view available appointment slots and chose the time that works best for them. Further, Facebook has announced that a pared-down version of Messenger will soon be available for desktop, creating additional opportunities for patients to reach out to their doctors on the app.

Booking Tools for Healthcare Providers

Facebook’s announcement comes on the heels of similar initiatives launched by other platforms. Most notably, Google My Business offers businesses the option of activating a “booking button” on their listing. This features allows consumers to set up an appointment without ever leaving their Google search.

The next pivotal development in scheduling is also courtesy of Google. Google Duplex, the company’s AI voice assistant, has the ability to call businesses and book appointments on its users’ behalf. These capabilities are likely to have powerful implications for healthcare, as Duplex will save patients a great deal of time and energy by setting up their doctors’ appointments for them. The tool can even call pharmacies and schedule medication refills.

In many ways, these tech giants’ initiatives are part of a larger movement to enhance user experiences. For HCPs, these initiatives fit into the domain of patient-centricity, which strives to put patients’ needs first. Messenger’s booking features enable patients to avoid the hassle of calling up a medical practice, instead allowing them to schedule an appointment online. By prioritizing ease and convenience, HCPs can use Messenger to build better relationships with patients and, in so doing, boost their appointment numbers.

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