Like any establishment providing services, you want your medical practice to avoid making patients wait. Prompt patient scheduling and admittance are important to establish your trustworthiness. They are building blocks for the success of your practice.
But it’s inevitable to have patients who are running a few minutes late and those that require emergency attention. When these events occur, they have a ripple effect on appointments throughout the day and can be frustrating for both your medical staff and other patients.
This is why the effective and efficient scheduling of patients is critical not just to your practice’s daily processes but also in maintaining your revenue. On one hand, you want your team to remain productive and attend to as many paying patients as possible. On the other, you want to retain those revenue-generating patients by keeping wait times at a minimum.
Although you cannot control how the timely arrival of patients, there are other things you can do to recoup the lost time and ensure that schedules go back on track as soon as possible. We discuss several ways to schedule patients more effectively below.
Offer a Self-Scheduling Option to Patients
You may spend hours on the phone every day, scheduling patient appointments. You have the option to hire designated employees who will handle all front office management tasks, including scheduling, so you can focus on your practice. But with new technologies springing up left and right, you can cut back on the expense (not to mention inefficiency) of having someone take phone calls and schedule patients manually.
If you don’t have it on your website, now is the time to invest in a patient portal. Through this, you can ease your staff’s workload and give your patients the option to schedule their appointments themselves. Apart from scheduling, patient portals have various capabilities, such as storing medical records and processing payments online. These features give your patients a better experience because of their convenience and efficiency.
Different patients have different needs. Some do not have to block a schedule on a physician’s calendar because they only need to pick up a prescription. Others, meanwhile, may require hours of consultation or treatments.
If your staff still handles scheduling appointments via phone, train them to determine whether the patient needs to be scheduled in or if they can complete a consultation over a quick phone call. This approach ensures the best level of care for patients while maximizing your practice’s profitability.
Implement Appointment Reminders
Sometimes, patients cancel or run late without prior notice. This can be frustrating and inconvenient, especially if you have a long waitlist of patients. Confirming the appointment of scheduled patients before the visit helps you make sure your daily schedule is accurate.
For this, you can use the classic phone call method, wherein you call up a patient to confirm their attendance a day or a few hours before their appointment. A more convenient option, of course, is using an appointment reminder software. It automatically sends a text or an e-mail to patients to remind them of their upcoming appointment. It gives your patients the chance to cancel immediately or reschedule if they cannot make it.
Create a Patient Waiting List
As mentioned above, no-shows and last-minute cancellations can be frustrating. What’s more, it costs your practice time and takes away from your profit. When this occurs, it’s best to have a waiting list from which you can get clients to take the place of the canceled appointments.
You can send a quick e-mail to everyone on your immediate patient list and encourage them to call you if they would like to set up an appointment at the time that’s suddenly free. This method saves time, so you don’t have to call everyone one by one. It also ensures a full schedule for your practice every day to you’d continue to generate income despite sudden cancelations.
Group Similar Patients
Some physicians appreciate it if the group of patients they deal with in a day have similar conditions or medical histories. This allows them to remain focused on similar patient needs or medical mindset instead of switching between their expertise. This will also result in quicker appointments and faster diagnoses of patients.
Let’s say you run an OB-GYN clinic. You may schedule ultrasounds in the morning and birth control or reproductive health consultations in the afternoon. If you run a dental office, you can schedule different dental services on different days, leaving room for emergency appointments. This kind of scheduling not only helps the physicians in your practice, but it also helps the staff maintain a flawless rhythm throughout the day.
Efficiency is essential in all medical practices, and it starts with proper scheduling. This helps keep the process running smoothly. If you find that you’re either overbooked or always have gaps in your schedule that could have gone to other patients, it’s a sign that your scheduling system needs a change. Keep these recommendations in mind and go for the most cost-efficient strategies.