Understanding the Art of Patient Scheduling to Improve Patient Flow

November 26, 2013

Managing patient scheduling is a form of art. Patient scheduling requires maintaining a healthy balance between patient inflow and outflow. If not managed properly, whether on paper or online, it may lead to an uneven stream of patient flow leading to less satisfied patients and frustrated staff members. Lack of a structured scheduling system always results in dissatisfied patients and loss of revenue.

Industry fact states that only 49% of patients always see providers within 15 minutes of their appointment times

Effective patient scheduling to improve revenue
A structured appointment scheduling system can go a long way toward improving revenue and increasing patient satisfaction in a medical practice. Traditional method of patient appointment scheduling lacks many administrative qualities which prove inefficient for patient scheduling can hamper the patient flow. Hence, it is very important for a physician to manage patient scheduling in order to improve patient flow and enhance revenue.

Although patient scheduling looks like a simple administrative task, it cannot be taken for granted. With an effective scheduling practice in place, you can see more patients while reducing stress for both you and your staff and boosting profitability.

Few strategies which may help ensure an efficient patient scheduling system:

  • Set visiting goals for patients:
    Before putting the patient scheduling system in place, healthcare providers must set a certain goal of patient visit on day-to-day basis. As a physician, you need to decide upon how many patients, on average, you wish to see in your facility on a weekly basis. You also need to work upon the number of days your patients can wait for you to be seen in order to optimize the patient scheduling effectively.
  • Strategy for patient visits :
    After setting the goal for patient visit, the next step is to place a scheduling strategy in place to reduce patient wait time and make optimum use of the time spent in seeing the patients visited. The most effective strategy for this is 'modified-wave scheduling'. In this scheduling technique, patients are double-booked in the first slot of every hour. The rest of the hour available can be utilized to catch up on patient visits in case you are running behind your time schedule. Booking patient visits on an hourly basis can help effectively manage the setback time in case you are running behind schedule.
  • Plan for downtime
    In case you are planning for some downtime, be it a family vacation or an out-of-town conference, be careful to schedule your appointments accordingly. If you are not careful in scheduling patient visits when you are unavailable for longer periods, your practice can be thrown into chaos. In such cases, make sure you begin to reduce the number of patients you see, and also reduce the number of routine appointments for follow ups.
  • Coordinate with staff members
    Once you've placed the scheduling strategy in place, make sure that your staff and physicians are on the same page when it comes to patient flow essentials. It is recommended that you put these policies in writing and distribute it amongst all your staff members so that there is no chance of miscommunication. When it comes to patient scheduling, it is necessary that your staff understands which patient needs to be seen on an urgent basis and what kind of patients can be scheduled together.
  • Plan your schedules ahead of time
    The most important way to manage the patient flow effectively is to plan ahead of the schedule. Make sure that your scheduling staff has a clear picture of upcoming patient's appointments and time requirements. Ensure that additional time requirements for complicated cases and patient follow ups are addressed while scheduling an appointment.

Medicalbillersandcoders.com has been successfully providing medical billing services for over a decade now across all 50 US States. With a vast array of services available with MBC, our clients can easily concentrate on patient scheduling to optimize their revenue. Our clients rely on MBC for well informed decisions, improved communication between physicians; tracking and reporting; assistance with medication safety and sustaining quality of healthcare, so that they can concentrate on improved practice management and stay fully committed to their profession.


Category : Practice Administration