6 Tips for Optimizing Patient Scheduling

Patient scheduling may seem like a simple process, but there is often expertise required to ensure patients are scheduled efficiently.

Effective scheduling has a significant impact on a physician’s day, a patient’s care, and a practice’s operation. The daily happenings at a medical practice can be unpredictable, and it’s important to understand there will be things out of your control. Even so, there are things that you and your staff can do to ensure the day runs smoothly.

Mastering the ability to optimize patient scheduling will lower stress for your team and your patients and leave everyone feeling happier. Keep reading for six tips for optimizing patient scheduling.

Make it a team effort. 

Optimized scheduling only works if everyone is on the same page. Ensure the whole team is aware of the schedule changes, agrees to the new schedule process, and understands how it will benefit everyone. During your team meetings its crucial to emphasize that:

  • This requires putting patients first.
  • A quality scheduling approach comes with a learning curve, and it may bring challenges.
  • Innovations like this represent an investment that takes time and effort but will pay off for patients, the team, and the practice.

Make sure your patients are the focus.

Centering the scheduling on the needs of patients not only changes the way physicians get patients but also how they want to help them.

One way to put patients first is to map your scheduling process through their perspective. Walk through your practice’s process as the patient, getting a feel for wait times and rushed appointments. This provides unique insight and highlights any gaps and opportunities for improvement.

Prioritize appointments.

Consider important factors such as level of care needed and potential time required. Every patient is different, and so are their needs. As staff is fielding calls, make sure they use their expertise to determine what the appointment will require. Could this be a long appointment, or can it be handled with a phone call?

Using this approach ensures that patients needing a high level of care can get it on the same day, or patients who don’t need a doctor right away aren’t wasting their time or the physicians.

[Patients leave because of scheduling issues. Click here to find more ways to make them stay!]

Use midday as a starting point.

Try to schedule morning appointments from as close to noon as possible and backward. Afternoon appointments should be as close to noon as possible and forwards. Implementing this technique will help you maintain consistency and maximize efficiency.

This will ensure that the bulk of the day is scheduled out, and if those earlier mornings and later day slots aren’t used, they can be utilized for other office requirements. Keeping those end-of-the-day times open also allows for scheduling patients on the waiting list. Whether you use wave scheduling, double-booking, stream, or practice-based, decide what method works best for your practice and ensure everyone on staff is using it.

Create a waiting list.

Create a standardized and straightforward waiting list so last-minute cancellations or open time slots can be filled.

Confirm with text or email.

No-shows or last-minute cancellations are the quickest way to disrupt your schedule and your bottom line. Be sure to implement late arrival and no-show policies to combat this and utilize a technological reminder system such as text or email.

Text and email are reminders becoming the preferred method of communication in our innovative world. Use it to your advantage!

If your schedule is always too full or never full enough, your practice’s scheduling process may need a revamp. Take notes on the inconsistencies and patterns and discuss these issues with your staff. Implement these four ideas for effective medical scheduling and ensure these practices are followed consistently among the entire team.

Creating an optimized schedule creates a more predictable workflow and a less chaotic medical practice.

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