Most medical practitioners try and squeeze in all patients scheduled, yet often it backfires leaving patients unattended with long waiting hours resulting in administrative inefficiency and poor patient satisfaction. Patient care is primary to augmenting the revenue of one’s medical practice. Clinical as well as administrative efficiency can be enhanced by employing 5 crucial ways to improve patient scheduling
1. Initiate Direct & Open access: Use digital media to interact and build awareness. An appointment calendar where patients can log in, check, and book their own slots -helps reduce staff workload. Automated reminders to patients are more acceptable than staff calls that could be seen as intrusive. Permitting online visibility to physician’s notes, patients updating own records, offering visible tracking of their medical progress – helps for better physician-patient interaction and thus makes for more efficient scheduling of patient visits.
2. Employ the Modified Wave Schedule: The modified wave schedule as against the traditional wave schedule is much more efficient and patient friendly bringing patient satisfaction. This schedule keeps patient waiting time to the minimum. The way it works is by double-booking patients for the first slot of each hour, giving the physician time to catch up if they are running late. The earlier wave schedule had all patients coming in at one time, but waiting time was long. This may involve a bit more of administrative strategizing, but in the long run, benefits both patient and physician.
3. Enrich Patient-Physician Engagement: To reduce Q &A time and also staff overloading, providing pertinent health information to one’s patients by employing digital media, makes patients more aware of their health problems and involves them into learning more. Getting patients more involved in managing their own health, especially the ones which require minimum care interactions ensures patient satisfaction and is now termed as “patient engagement”. Patient’s who can monitor their own condition online, have access to their own lab results, are in constant touch via email with their physicians- all this goes a long way in helping physicians in improving patient scheduling of the more chronic cases.
4. Delegate Clinical Support Responsibilities: If physicians provide enhanced training to their staff, then certain basic protocols, pre and post physician meet, can be handled by the staff, creating better time management for physicians. Filling forms and handling medication related instructions and follow-up appointments can help free the physician, thus effectively dealing with reduced waiting time of the next patient. Also, prescription refills online can be better handled by a trained staff.
5. Perfect the Peak & Valley Strategy: Understanding seasonal variations of disease occurrence can help strategize patient scheduling. During low season of patient inflow, use the opportunity to schedule patients with more critical problems, so that more time is spent on understanding their problems and setting up tests, or re-evaluating their medications, etc. Additionally, training and workshops for staff during low season will go a long way in enhancing patient engagement.
Integrating the above 5 points into your medical practice will ensure better patient scheduling and satisfaction.