Improving patient scheduling is the focus on every health system and medical practice. It’s a major part of addressing the rise of patient consumerism. Patients demand the same experience from their doctor they get from restaurants. If you don’t give it to them, someone else will.
Why You Should Prioritize Improving Patient Scheduling
Every health system is wondering how to schedule patients effectively. Why is improving patient scheduling more important than the other initiatives competing for your attention? Whether you are focused on improving patient flow at an outpatient clinic or a primary care scheduling, better patient scheduling is an important goal.
Better Patient Experience
Improving patient scheduling reducing patient wait times. As a result, patient satisfaction increases. This is very important in a value based system.
Increase Physician Utilization
By improving templating and utilizing autonomous waitlist management software, physicians can make sure their schedule is full. Better patient scheduling decreases cancellations and patient no-shows.
Decrease Physician Burnout
On the other hand, improving patient scheduling can decrease physician burnout. How? By organizing the schedule template, physicians can have control of their day and when they want to see specific appointment types.
Higher Staff Productivity
By being organized, health systems can reduce staff call volume and improve their effectiveness. Clearer patient scheduling processes reduces errors and miscommunications.
Three Patient Scheduling Best Practices
Organized Appointment Types
The first area to focus when trying to improve patient scheduling is appointment types. Organizing appointment types allows the below solutions to succeed. Aim for 6-10 appointment types per specialty. Make sure those appointment types reflect what front office staff are doing instead of trying to change front office staff workflow. We wrote an entire guide on how to organize your appointment types so we won’t repeat ourselves. Check it out here.
Patient Scheduling Templates
Another way of improving patient scheduling is through organizing patient scheduling templates. Here are a couple of tips.
- Ask physicians when they like to see certain appointment types.
- Do not schedule a long appointment type at the beginning or end of the day.
- Schedule appointment types that run long before the lunch break.
- Do not be too restrictive with your templating. Front office staff will ignore it.
- Do not be too loose with your templating. You will lose the benefits of good planning.
Use New Technologies Improving Patient Scheduling
No need to undertake the entire process by yourself. There are many companies who have spent years developing tools to help you improve the patient scheduling process. All of these technologies are more effective once you’ve organized your schedule templating and appointment types.
Autonomous Patient Access Software
Many tasks vital to patient scheduling can be fully automated. Specifically, appointment reminders, waitlist management, and appointment rescheduling. With health system profit margins at record lows, hiring more staff isn’t possible. Sometimes providers can’t even be found. Automation can fill that gap.
After you’ve shortened the patient wait time with automated patient access software, try direct patient scheduling. By reducing patient wait time first, you create open slots in the future. Patients can then fill those slot on their own. We recommend choosing vendors who integrate with your EHR, but focus only direct patient scheduling. Best in breed is better than jack of all trades.
Patient Check-in Tools
Patient check-in tools offer a good patient experience upon arrival. In addition, patient information is more organized for physicians to use later in the appointment. Furthermore, it frees up staff to focus on urgent patient needs.
Conclusion on Improving Patient Scheduling
Improving patient scheduling is a vital undertaking. Organizing templating and simplifying appointment types are good first steps. Utilize best in breed technology to increase patient satisfaction, physician utilization, and staff productivity