Best Strategies for Patient Scheduling for 2022Posted: November 9, 2021 - By Health Dev
As a practice, one of your top goals is to ensure the satisfaction of your patients. A significant part of achieving that goal is providing them with the highest-quality care while they’re in the office. But what if we told you that ensuring satisfaction started before they ever stepped through your doors?
Patient scheduling is one of the most significant elements of patient management. It’s also one of the most common sources of issues. Difficulty scheduling appointments, long wait times, and other problems can create friction.
Like many practices, you aim to satisfy existing patients while also bringing in new patients. You may even be proactively trying to reactivate past patients who haven’t scheduled an appointment in a while. Improving your patient scheduling processes can go a long way in helping you to achieve these goals.
The Benefits of Implementing Good Patient Scheduling Practices
Implementing solid patient scheduling strategies can go a long way in improving overall patient satisfaction.
Happy patients are much more likely to show up for their appointments and continue scheduling appointments with your office in the future. No-shows can be a significant problem, and they can cost thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars in lost revenue a year. Reducing your no-show rate can go a long way in helping you bring in more money.
Better patient scheduling practices can also improve your employee efficiency. By spending less time and effort dealing with scheduling issues, employees can focus their attention elsewhere, enabling them to get more done while still giving patients the care they deserve.
5 Best Practices for Patient Scheduling
Let’s take a look at some strategies for improving patient scheduling:
1. Empower Patients to Schedule Online
These days, people do almost everything online — including booking a variety of services, including hotels, transportation, and more. There’s a good chance they might not mind booking a visit with your practice online, too.
Empowering patients to make their own appointments online through your website can help increase their satisfaction significantly, especially if it’s easy to use. They don’t have to pick up the phone and contact the office, nor will they potentially need to wait on hold for an unknown amount of time.
An online booking system doesn’t just benefit your patients — it helps your practice, too. With patients requesting and booking their appointments themselves, your employees can devote more time to other tasks, including taking care of the patients already in the waiting room and exam rooms.
2. Use an Appointment Reminder System
Communication with patients regarding their appointments is vital. Appointment reminder cards can get lost. Patients might not write down their appointment date and time. As a result, they might forget and, therefore, not show up. A front-desk staff member could make phone calls to each patient and remind them, but that takes a lot of time. Making so many phone calls takes them away from other duties — and even then, patients may not write down when their appointment is — leading to no-shows or patients showing up late.
An appointment reminder system that sends text message (or email) reminders to each patient can make things easier, quicker, and much more convenient for your patients and your practice. You can direct your patients to text back with a “yes” or “no” to confirm (or reschedule/cancel) their appointment so that your staff knows whether or not the person can still make it.
Don’t stop with one reminder, though. Along with sending one at the time of scheduling, be sure to send them periodically up until the day of the appointment. These regular reminders from your practice can help increase appointment confirmation rates and decrease the rates of late arrivals and no-shows.
3. Schedule Appointments in Blocks
While you may have many patients who use your online booking system, you may also have some who call to make their appointments. In such instances, you might find that scheduling in blocks from noon backward (for the morning) and noon forward (for the afternoon) to be most helpful.
With this method, you can fill in gaps, reducing the number of empty slots throughout the day. If there’s open space at the beginning or end of the day, staff members can use the time to get caught up with paperwork and other tasks.
You may even be able to save on some overhead by having some employees come in late or go home early on lighter days.
4. Double Book with Care
If you’re an in-demand practice, you may need to double book some patients. How you double book matters significantly, though. For instance, a new patient will require more time than an established one. However, the new patient needs to undergo an intake process first. In this situation, the doctor can visit the returning patient and then go to the new one once they have finished their paperwork.
5. Automate Your Patient Recalls
With a patient recall system, your practice automatically sends a text message (or email) to existing patients when it’s time for them to schedule their next visit. In doing so, you can help your patients stay on top of their health while also keeping your calendar full. Such an automated system can also aid in a patient reactivation campaign, helping your practice bring back inactive patients who haven’t come back in a while.
Whether you’re recalling current patients or reactivating past patients, be sure to include a link back to your website in your texts. The link should bring them to your online booking page, making the process easier and more convenient for them.
Develop and Implement Strategies to Improve Patient Scheduling
How your practice manages appointment scheduling can make or break a patient’s overall experience and satisfaction. Implementing strategies that make the process easier for them is essential. It can help increase the chances that they come back for future visits. These best practices not only help your patients but also benefit your staff and your office as a whole.