7 Amazing Tips for Better Appointment Scheduling in Healthcare
Unused scheduling capacity is costing you more money than you think.
In fact, as of 2017, the cost to medical professionals was $120 billion annually. From unexpected cancellations to rescheduling, there are many unused time slots. These unused time slots cost an average of $200 every 60 minutes.
Not only does it cost your health care organization a lot of money, but it also causes longer and unneeded wait times for other patients.
By automating patient schedule management you can shorten patient wait times by 24 days.
With the growing population of the United States, this means that we will have a larger aging population needing a higher volume of appointments. The United States Census Bureau projects that by 2030 one out of five Americans will be 65 or older.
It’s imperative that appointment scheduling in healthcare becomes more accessible to patients and more efficient.
Appointment Management and Scheduling in Healthcare
Your time is valuable as a healthcare professional. With growing populations and personalization demands, managing appointments manually isn’t cutting it anymore.
With Millennials making up 25% of our country’s population, it’s time to start venturing into the digital age with scheduling appointments, much like we have with medical care.
Appointment Scheduling Tips
Providing a better patient experience will give you an opportunity to create a better relationship with your patient, and keep them coming back.
Let’s face it, no one likes going to the doctor. Making your patient’s appointment scheduling painless will help them dislike it a little less.
Here are some great patient appointment scheduling tips, to help you get back to the really important things.
Provide Automated Patient Scheduling
With the average phone call to schedule an appointment taking over eight minutes, offering patients multiple ways to schedule and manage their appointments will save you, and your patient, time.
What is Automated Patient Scheduling?
Automated patient scheduling helps manage the time between when an appointment is booked and when the patient comes in for their visit. By monitoring your schedule 24/7, it identifies areas of unused scheduling capacity.
Automated scheduling solutions don’t require staff involvement, which automatically helps to improve patient access. Should a cancellation occur, the system will look to patients who have appointments booked in the future, analyze who is most eligible for the time allotted.
It will then send automated texts to those patients who are most eligible. The first patient to respond then claims the time slot. The original appointment is then transferred from the original time slot, and confirmation is sent to the patient.
Offer More Convenient Hours
Offering extended hours in the evenings and on the weekends is a great way to provide excellent customer service for your patients.
With a rising population, working standard office hours doesn’t give doctors the opportunity to get to every patient. Along with a rising population, Americans are working more hours.
Almost 38 million Americans are working more than 40 hours a week. This makes it quite challenging to get to the doctor’s office.
A simple solution may be to stagger the start time of your staff.
Even a few extra hours each week will make a huge difference to your patients. It gives them easier access to health care and ensures they will keep coming to your office.
Be sure to also have someone available during the lunch hour to answer phone calls. This lets your customers know that you value being available to help.
Group Patients with Similar Conditions
Grouping appointments for patients with similar conditions on the same day will help the medical staff get into a rhythm, allowing them to work more efficiently.
If doctors are able to remain focused and stay in the same medical mindset, it will enable them to make a quicker diagnosis, and allow for quicker appointments.
Quicker appointments means happier patients.
Send Patients Appointment Reminders
Let’s face it, we are all busy. We try to balance all of life’s demands, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Things like a scheduled doctor’s appointment.
By sending patients appointment reminders, you can ensure that they won’t forget the appointment, leaving your office with unused scheduling capacity. This will also help to ensure that your patient arrives on time, keeping the days schedule on track.
As you are painfully aware, having a patient not show for an appointment is costly and frankly, inconvenient for you and your office staff. This is especially true if you have a long waitlist.
When a patient doesn’t show, you as the provider aren’t the only one to miss out. Your other patients miss out as well.
Consider investing in automation for your reminders. Having an automated system that sends out text and phone reminders will save you and your office staff time.
Plan for the Seasons
With any great customer service comes the need for knowing your clients.
Knowing your patients, and their seasonal needs will help you to anticipate scheduling needs.
A great example is something pediatric practices see year after year. There tends to be an increase in needed appointments at the beginning of the school year, or just before.
Your particular practice may see an increase in needed appointments based around when deductibles have been met. This typically will be towards the end of the year.
By analyzing your appointments, over time you will be able to maximize your schedule to create access to those who need it most. This will allow your office to run smoothly and efficiently.
Give Early Arrival Times
Keeping your schedule on track begins at the beginning of the day. If you have your first patient scheduled at 8:00 a.m., make sure to start on time.
It’s important to remember the pre-visit work for each patient. Starting late, even if it’s 10 minutes, can have a snowball effect by the end of the day.
It’s also important to remember that once in the office your patient will have to go through clinical intake, possibly needing to complete needed documents. Accounting for this time will allow you a better chance of keeping the schedule on track.
A great way to account for this time is by giving your patient an early arrival time. If you set your patient’s arrival time somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes prior to the appointment depending on how complex your patient intake process is, this will keep the schedule flowing.
Keep in mind it’s important that if patients are using their time to show up early, appointments need to remain on time. Nothing turns away a patient quicker than not valuing their time.
Send Patients Reminders of Regular Appointments Needed
We all need to be scheduling regular appoints with our primary care provider. However, we are a busy nation, often forgetting to take care of things such as this.
Sending reminders to your patients will not only help you ensure your schedule is full, but it will also ensure your patients are healthy. Having patients come in regularly means there is a higher chance of catching serious things sooner.
With today’s technology this is one way to do your due diligence, and keep your patients informed. This is also another way to create more access for your patients.
Consider investing in an automated system that will allow you to remind patients of regular care appointments. An automated system will allow you to remind them simply by sending a reminder voice call or text.
Scheduling that Works for You and Your Patients
Appointment scheduling in healthcare can take up a large amount of time for providers and their staff.
By investing in automated scheduling technology, you can find scheduling that works for you and your patients. Patients want more access when it comes to scheduling their appointments.
Working with an automated system, that works without staff involvement, will save your practice time and money. By decreasing the unused scheduling capacity within your schedule, you and your patients win.
Working with an automated system will also allow you to keep your patients informed. With reminders and alerts, your patients will miss fewer appointments. Automation will also allow for easier rescheduling when an appointment is cancelled.
If you are looking for a better scheduling system, we would love to help. Think it’s too good to be true? Schedule a demo today, and see for yourself!