Which Way is Best to Assist With Scheduling a Patient?Posted: November 30, 2021 - By Health Dev
Patient scheduling is an essential front office function that affects the productivity of your medical practice. When scheduling appointments, you must balance two goals: your clinical team’s ability to provide thorough care to each patient and our practice’s opportunity to maximize revenue. How can you achieve both objectives in the most efficient way possible?
Following proven appointment scheduling best practices is critical. Fortunately, today’s advanced technologies can help you eliminate much of the manual intervention involved in scheduling appointments so that you can focus on quality care and a superior patient experience.
Use Block Appointment Scheduling
For best results, many medical practices schedule appointments in blocks starting at noon each day. They start scheduling morning appointments at noon backward and take afternoon appointments starting at noon forward.
With this approach, you can put any unfilled blocks of time to productive use. An open hour can be the perfect time for holding a team meeting, catching up on paperwork, or attending online training. You may even be able to schedule late arrivals or early departures for some team members to cut overhead costs and increase morale.
Implement Self-Scheduling Technology
In recent years, many people have grown adept at going online or using apps to interact with businesses, including their healthcare providers. It’s a logical next step to capitalize on this momentum to allow patient self scheduling for appointments.
With self-scheduling technology, patients can request appointments at any time — days, nights, or weekends. They don’t need to wait for your business hours, place a phone call, or stay on hold to secure an appointment time. The convenience of digital appointment scheduling can save time and improve patient satisfaction.
For your staff, a patient self-scheduling system can significantly cut down on their repetitive administrative duties. Instead of fielding incoming appointment scheduling calls — each of which can take five to ten minutes — your team members can redirect their focus on more important tasks. Often practices dedicate a full-time role just to appointment scheduling. This expense can be eliminated keep your staff focused on higher-value work with a patient self-scheduling solution.
Send Out Appointment Reminders
Making it easy for patients to schedule appointments is important, but you also need to remind them about upcoming visits. This process is another area where technology can help you achieve dramatic productivity gains.
You can set up an appointment reminder workflow that meets your practice’s unique business needs with the right solution. Perhaps you need to create reminders to go out one week before visits, then follow up with reminders the day before and the day of the appointment. Once you establish your reminder cadence, you can apply it across all appointment types to ensure patients stay informed. You can also allow each patient to confirm, change, or cancel appointments with ease to keep your schedule up to date and free up time to see others who have more immediate care needs.
Best of all, you can deliver appointment reminders across multiple channels to reach more people. You can send reminders out via phone call, email, or text to connect with patients on the channels they prefer. This multi-channel approach increases the likelihood that patients will see your reminder and make their scheduled appointment time — helping you cut down on costly no-shows.
Automate Care Reminders and Recalls
In addition to routine care reminders, you should also let patients know about recurring care needs through text, phone, or email. Remind patients about annual care needs, important preventative screenings or tests, seasonal vaccinations, and more.
You can set up bulk communications to your entire patient community or send custom messages to specific populations. That way, you can encourage patients to schedule appointments to address all their health needs while staying in touch and letting them know your practice values them.
Keep a Patient Wait List to Cover Cancellations
Is your daily schedule almost always fully booked? That is good news for your financials but can be frustrating for patients who have to wait to get the care they need. However, you can help patients see their provider more quickly by keeping a waitlist.
A waiting list can also help you cover late cancellations and no-shows. Instead of costly downtime, you can book a patient visit earlier than expected — which is a win for you and your patient. To streamline waitlist management, look for solutions that let you bulk text to individuals on the list to give them the option of taking free appointment times.
Avoid Unnecessary Appointments with Secure Two-Way Messaging
Although you want to generate revenue, you don’t want to overload your schedule with unnecessary appointments. At times patients may have a simple question for their physician or a clinical team member that doesn’t require a visit.
Implementing secure two-way messaging can help you answer many straightforward patient questions with minimal effort. Patients can initiate contact and receive personalized responses from a medical professional. Often your staff can resolve questions within one business day, which can make patients feel appreciative of your attentive care.
If one of your healthcare team members discerns that a patient has more complex needs that require evaluation by a physician, you can book an appointment. You will have gathered helpful background information to make that visit productive and helpful.
Transform Your Practice with Enhanced Appointment Scheduling
For many patients, scheduling an appointment is the first experience they have with your practice. If you can offer streamlined booking using online and digital tools, patients will have a good impression of your practice from the start. Plus, you can cut down on burdensome administrative work that diminishes front office efficiency.
Technology can also empower you to send out appointment reminders to make patients more likely to keep their scheduled times with their healthcare providers. Also, you can remind patients about routine care, such as annual check-ups, using text, email, and phone. And you can use two-way messaging to keep in touch with patients between visits and answer many simple questions.
With the right appointment scheduling approach, you can optimize the efficiency of your front office and deliver better patient experiences. As a result, you can create a standout medical practice that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to providing high levels of service to every patent.
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