With the shift to value-based care, the focus is on increasing patient engagement and satisfaction. Efficient medical appointment scheduling plays a key role in increasing patient access to healthcare and optimizing resource utilization in medical practices.

Patient Appointment Scheduling – What Physicians Should Know

Scheduling appointments should be a smooth process for patients who need access to in-person care. According to the Karo-sponsored 2014 Great American Survey, many practices mentioned patient satisfaction and patient growth as priorities. However, it was found that many providers have not been successful in improving the use of tools in these areas, especially for online scheduling. Physicians need to reassess their processes and make changes to meet patient needs. In fact, efficient online medical appointment scheduling is one of easiest ways to improve patient satisfaction and growth, and reduce manual tasks in physician practices.

Health IT Analytics recently reported on how the uneven utilization of the hematology-oncology clinic of Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina posed problems for providers as well as patients. The facility used big data analytics to develop predictable schedules and reduce frustrating delays for patients. Lack of a proper patient scheduling process had led to many issues:

  • The popular 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM window for appointments was full, though many of the 43 treatment chairs in the infusion center would remain unused at other hours of the day
  • Resources were stressed to the maximum during peak hours, increasing stress among pharmacists and nurses
  • Patients faced inordinate delays in getting care

The result was that staff members had few patients to care for and little to do during the rest of the working day. The hematology-oncology clinic eventually found the solution by employing advanced software to analyze its big data and using the results to improve its existing patient scheduling procedures. They achieved better utilization of resources by maintaining their appointment rate throughout the day. Staff is less harried and the pharmacy can handle requests in a timelier manner. Most important, patients got timelier treatment.

Outsourcing Solutions for Patient Appointment Scheduling Challenges

Busy signals, technological glitches, or difficulty in finding a time suitable for themselves and the provider – these some of the issues that patients may face when they call a provider’s front desk to make an appointment. Patient appointment scheduling services are a feasible option to address these challenges. Companies that offer these services utilize advanced online appointment scheduling software that allows patients to select appointments with their preferred providers, schedules visits for multiple doctors/facilities, confirm scheduled visits quickly, reschedule visits, get email notifications, and much more.

Such solutions are win-win situation for both patients and providers. Patients can see the right specialist for their specific problems and practices can improve resource utilization, improve access to care, and provide patients with customized solutions.