The latest update in Google’s quest to be the all-in-one answer engine and provider of all human needs comes from their new booking tool.
The booking tool is currently limited to fitness and beauty.
After fitness and beauty, healthcare seems like the next natural progression and can’t be too far behind. Google already has arrangements with companies such as Healthgrades and ZocDoc that allows patients to book participating providers on these sites without leaving the search results.
Google says that with Reserve with Google you can now “book appointments at spas and salons across the U.S. on Google” meaning that a haircut, massage, spin class, or facial “is only a couple taps away.”
Why Is This Important to Doctors?
While the Google Guarantee Program that we previously reported on is currently restricted to home services (handymen, electricians, plumbers), direct booking through Google:
- Doesn’t require customers to fill out a form before an appointment,
- Service providers don’t have to go through background checks,
- And Google isn’t involved in potentially refunding money.
That’s a convoluted way of saying that there’s a much lower barrier to entry for Google direct booking making it more likely to quickly spread to other vertical markets.
Another recent addition to Google, Google My Business posts, is another tool that is adding additional weight to search results and be used by any Google My Business user for special offers, promoting events or newsletters, and sharing any recent healthcare news featured on your website.
Any of these updates are worth paying attention to, testing, or preparing for because if your online profile is lacking compared to your competitors, you may lose patients or have a harder attracting new ones.
Google wants their users to live exclusively in the world that they’ve created e.g. they search directly for you or a service you provide, they see that you are in good standing with them (positive reviews, potentially a Google Guaranteed provider in the future, updated Google Posts), and then they can book an appointment with you.
This all happens on real estate the size of a mobile phone as your potential patient quickly absorbs this information, makes a decision about you, and then takes action on that decision by scheduling an appointment.
That’s a powerful user experience at the speed of human visual processing.
How Does It Work?
The interesting about Google direct booking and one of the main reasons this resonates with healthcare is the way that it works:
This feature is made possible through partnerships with the top scheduling providers you might already use, including Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale and WellnessLiving
Again, keep in mind that this features is only for fitness and beauty but healthcare appointment booking apps like Zocdoc are already integrated in your search results on Google:
With Zocdoc patients are directed to their business site to complete a booking. However you can easily envision a partnership in the future that maintains the relevancy of the Zocdocs of the world and doesn’t make any investment you made in such apps go for naught.
The online presence that you’ve crafted through the multitude of online directories for doctors will simply be funneled through Google.
What Can You Expect?
Right now you can book appointments for participating/approved business right from a Google business listing within Search and Maps, or you can go directly to their site, Reserve with Google.
The video below walks you through what you’ll see when you go to Reserve with Google. In this example, you can select what service you need, choose your preferred business and then scroll through available:
- Select Preferred Staff Member
- Review Options
- Select Service
As you can see in the video, users stay within the Google interface instead of being directed to an external page, like the Zocdoc booking example. You can see how easy it will be for your patients to see what you offer and schedule an appointment in just a few clicks.
How Do I Stay Informed?
Right now a business that wants to get listed on Reserve with Google needs to have an account with one of the Reserve with Google scheduling partners. These 3rd party software scheduling partners automatically list the businesses on Google. For more background on the process, check out this blog post from Appointy, Reserve with Google expert guide: How to get listed?.
When Google starts to expand this service in more areas and more industries it’s likely that you’ll see a notification from the healthcare appointment scheduling software that you use, if they’re added as a Google partner.
Another way to stay up to date on this development is to sign-up for the InboundMD newsletter, Marketing The Modern Practice, to stay abreast of all the latest digital marketing trends affecting patient acquisition.