Scheduling patients. It sounds like a straightforward task to execute, right? After all, it is something that numerous healthcare practices perform daily. But patient scheduling can get messy for practices.
No matter how hard you try to reduce missed appointments and accommodate patients in any way that you can, there will never be a shortage of those who will still have issues that are beyond your control. Therefore, your practice’s patient scheduling process must exemplify efficiency and effectiveness at an optimal level. The following guide will discuss six ways that you can minimize inconvenience and frustration for both your patients and your practice staff.
Patient Scheduling Made Easy
1. Start Scheduling from Noon
Make a concerted effort to begin scheduling patients for morning appointments at noon and work your way backward. For afternoon appointments, begin scheduling patients starting at noon and work your way forward. Utilizing this method will allow you to achieve optimal productivity across the board and ensure that most of the day is spread out with patient appointments. If blocks during the morning or afternoon hours don’t get allocated, it gives you the opportunity to efficiently allocate the time elsewhere. For instance, you can use one of the available slots to schedule a staff meeting that may be needed, or you can reduce overhead spending by allowing staff members to come into work later or go home earlier. Finding ways to fill these vacant blocks of time in your schedule will help diminish the possibility of unproductive downtime that may arise as a result.
2. Offer Online Scheduling
Some practices assign all appointment scheduling calls to a designated person who may also handle other front office management tasks. But as technology evolves, so do the options available to practices. Who needs an “appointment scheduler” when you can simply allow patients to schedule their appointments online? Talk about a novel idea! Not only does online scheduling offer another great opportunity to reduce unnecessary expenses, but it also allows for the recovery of time that could be delegated to more important tasks. In a nutshell, it’s mutually beneficial for practices and patients.
3. Schedule for the Appropriate Time Frames
All patient visits are not created equal. Therefore, train your staff on the time each appointment type takes so they schedule adequate time for each type. If your scheduling software allows for it, incorporate scheduling templates. By doing so, you can make it easier for staff members to know when certain appointment types are recommended and have those correct time allotments already built-in. This allows staff members to fill appointments faster.
4. Use Appointment Reminders
Send out appointment reminders in advance via text and e-mail so you will have time to fill appointments if a patient cancels or reschedules. Moreover, using an appointment reminder software program will increase the number of patients arriving on time and keeping their appointments.
5. Establish a Waiting List
Cancellations at the last minute are the worst, but having a waiting list to turn to can help offset the frustration. It would be advantageous to invest in a patient scheduling platform that has the ability to store such a list and send out notifications to patients who may like to take the open slot. This makes for an excellent time-saver and tool to increase revenues.
6. Use a Recall System
When it’s time to come in for regular visits and other needed exams or tests, an automated recall system can be utilized to make contact with patients and get these visits booked. It promotes an effective way to consistently maintain a fuller schedule for your practice.
Appointment scheduling is one of the first lines of communication your clinic has with patients. If patients find your scheduling process too cumbersome or frustrating, they will leave your practice for a competitor who is easier to work with! If patient scheduling has been a challenge for your practice, following these guidelines will help make the process more fluid, making happier patients, and improving your bottom line.