5 Experts Offer Their Top Appointment Scheduling Tips

By Lea Chatham  |  January 27, 2014

Position your practice for growthAppointment scheduling is really the life blood of your practice. How you set up and manage your schedule over time can have a major impact on your business. It’s no secret that your revenue is dependent on the number of patients you see. You need to maximize your schedule in every way. There are lots of ways to do that, and here are top tips from five industry experts:

Elizabeth Woodcock, Woodcock & Associates: Start on time! Seriously, the first patient is normally scheduled at 8:00, but doesn’t get the point where he/she is with the physician until 8:20—and that’s in a great practice. It’s important to recognize the pre-visit work at the front office and clinical intake, and account for that. If you give that 8:00 patient a “7:40 arrival time”, that means the patient will be ready for their billable encounter at 8:00, which is truly “starting on time!!”

Laurie Morgan, Capko & Morgan: Make sure you're considering seasonality in your appointment scheduling templates. Tweet This
For example, pediatric practices tend to get a lot of wellness visit requests at the beginning of the school year and just before, while their sick visits balloon in the winter. Other practices find that access is most in-demand at year-end, when deductibles have been met. Make sure you're analyzing your appointment slots to maximize access for those who need it most.

Deborah Walker Keegan, Medical Practice Dimensions: Adopt modified wave scheduling. This is strategic double-booking, permitting a long and a short visit to be scheduled simultaneously. The MA rooms the "short visit" patient first (typically an urgent visit or an established visit), and while the physician is in with that patient, works up the "long visit" patient (typically a patient with chronic care issues or a new patient). Once the physician has completed the short visit, he/she then sees the long visit patient. This recognizes the time spent by medical assistants and other clinical support staff in support of the visit preparation. In this fashion, a small practice can add volume throughout the day.

Rochelle Glassman, United Physician Services: Make sure your schedule reflects your patient mix. If you have 30% capitated patients and 70% Fee for Service (FFS) patients then your schedule should reflect that. Block out appointments for your 30% of capitated patients and leave the rest for FFS patients. Don’t schedule capitated patients in your same day appointments unless absolutely necessary. Leave those for your FFS patients who want more access.

Judy Capko, Capko & Morgan: This may sound simple, but be open all day. There are still practices that close at lunch! Today, you just can’t do that. There is too much competition. If you aren’t open someone else will be. Someone needs to be there at lunch to answer the phone and provide appointments when people are able to get off work. And consider offering extended hours in the evening and weekends. Even a couple extra hours a week can make a big difference in access for your patients and keep them coming back.

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