Running a medical practice of any kind can be stressful and hectic, but using effective medical office scheduling strategies can help everything in your practice run a little smoother. Careful and effective scheduling ensures that everyone in the office, both staff and patients, are on the same page and know what to expect out of each and every day. Whether your office struggles with effective scheduling or is just looking to streamline the scheduling process, try implementing these tips to have your office running smoother than ever.
Start on Time
This may seem obvious, but few practices actually start the first appointment of the day at the time it is scheduled for. The first patient of the day is normally scheduled for 8 o’clock, but isn’t usually with the physician until 20 minutes later, even in a great practice. This isn’t usually because of a lazy or tardy staff, it’s because both patients and staff, including physicians, fail to account for the intake work before the appointment begins. Give patients an arrival time about 20 minutes before their appointment begins to allow for paperwork, insurance processing, and, if necessary, pre-payment. New patients may need even more time.
Choose Appointment Times to Maximize Effectiveness
Placing appointments for patients with similar conditions or procedure types on the same day or within the same time of day can help physicians make diagnoses and conduct quicker appointments by allowing them to stay in the same mindset across several appointments, rather than having to refresh their thought process for each appointment.
Schedulers may also want to consider prioritizing patients with more complex appointments. Try to book patients with complicated needs as soon as possible, and manage uncomplicated issues through group visits outside the office via phone or email. Though financial benefits from uncomplicated patients are lessened, you maximize the return from complex appointments, and increase the chances that uncomplicated patients will come to your office when they have more significant needs. On the other hand, if patients have to go elsewhere to get a timely appointment to address their serious issues, they may choose not to come back for minor needs.
Use Modified Wave Scheduling
Modified wave scheduling is a strategy of medical office scheduling that helps keep practices running on time even if they fall behind at some point during the day. This strategy involves booking multiple appointments at the beginning of the hour and leaving a buffer period at the end of the hour. At the beginning of the hour, long and short visits are scheduled simultaneously in pairs. The medical assistant rooms the patient with the short visit first and while the physician is with that patients, conducts the work up for the long visit patients, so that the long visit patient is ready to see the physician around the same time as the physician finishes with the short visit patient.
This more effectively uses the time that MAs and other support staff spend on visit preparation. Short appointments can also be booked during long appointments that don’t require the physician’s presence at all times. For example, a physician can conduct a short visit while a patient with long visit is having an x-ray performed. The emptier back end of the hour is used for catch up if patients show up late, appointments run long, or other unpredictable delays occur.
Respect Your Patients
Remember that your patients have taken time out of their own busy schedules, including many taking time off of work, to prioritize their health and come in to your office. Respect them, their schedules, and their choice to take care of themselves by striving to help them get in and out of your practice as quickly as possible without making patients feel rushed. All medical professionals in the office should strive to be punctual, keep all appointments, and meet all appointment times.
Get Help Keeping Your Medical Practice Running Smoothly
Running a medical office can be stressful and hectic, and this stress is only magnified when trying to move your medical practice or open a new location, but you don’t have to do it alone. Boulevard Medical Properties can help you find a new medical office space based on your practice’s needs and goals, helping your practice to grow and expand. Regardless of if you’re just starting the moving process or almost finished, or what you need from a new medical office space, Boulevard LA can help you get the perfect medical office space for your practice.
Contact Boulevard LA today to schedule your consultation.