Is Your Patient Schedule Keeping You Up At Night?

Patient scheduling is an essential tool for every practice. Unfortunately, many offices do not have protocols or guidelines for staff in place, resulting in lost revenue due to long patient wait times. So, how are you supposed to create a schedule that allows for growth in your practice AND balances patient care and satisfaction? The first step is to assess what is happening now.
We know that if you dig down deep, you’ll be able to create a patient schedule that makes sense and allows you to sleep better at night knowing that you have a full, efficient patient schedule the next day.
Below are some questions that you can use to assess possible issues with your schedule:
  1. How are appointment requests handled? Do patients get handed off to multiple team members? Do patients have to provide their information more than once?
  2. Do patients have the capability to schedule online?
  3. Does your staff know the maximum capacity for each day/provider?
  4. Is the appointment availability reasonable?
  5. Does your staff call no shows within 30 minutes of a missed appointment?
  6.  Is there a protocol for appointment cancellations? 
  7. Do you have a cancellation list to fill available slots once canceled?
  8. How are appointment reminders handled?
  9. What is the policy for same-day appointments and walk-ins?
  10. Who is responsible for giving patients instructions before their visit?
A few more tips:
If you are not leveraging automated systems and allowing your patients to request appointments online, you are missing out on a large chunk of revenue.
Make sure that your front office staff is maintaining a cancelation list for those patients who wish to come in earlier than their scheduled appointment.
You can allow double booking if your practice is in high demand. However, for this to work, your schedulers must understand what types of visits can and cannot be double booked. For example, you would not want to double book two new patients for the same provider, however, an existing sick visit and a new patient would be simpler to handle because your nurse can assist the new patient with intake paperwork and tests while the provider sees the sick visit first.
If you are getting frustrated with your schedule, make sure your front office has the right tools. It’s not always a training problem or a people issue. It could be a process issue as well. Ensure you have a front office leader who can assist with workflow inefficiencies and take charge of running your front office.