Quality of care is the first consideration when patients choose a healthcare facility, but a flexible and convenient patient experience has also become an important factor. Efficient and smooth patient appointment scheduling is one of the most important aspects of practice management and patient satisfaction. The pandemic has changed consumer expectations and patients are looking for a safe, efficient and convenient way to schedule appointments. Efficient patient scheduling also reduces no-shows, which can impact practice revenue.
The benefits of a well-organized patient appointment scheduling system are as follows:
- Top-class appointment management software
- Optimizes practice appointment management
- Makes it easy to identify vacant slots
- Minimizes no-shows and missed appointments
- Flexible and convenient schedules
- Optimizes physician time with the patient
- Physicians and staff can access schedules any time and from anywhere
- Manages specialist appointments and referrals
- Ensure timely reminders and follow-up
- Improves patient engagement and access by extending appointment scheduling hours
- Easy to collect data to keep track of trends
- Call center management: patients can call in to confirm or change their appointments
- Eliminates record duplication
Here are six strategies for efficient patient scheduling:
- Leverage Technology: Appointments can be confirmed by sending text or email messages. Patients can also be reminded about their scheduled visits through email, mobile app notifications or automated calendar reminders. Make sure that the automated texting works both ways so that patients can send replies. Automated notifications can include a reminder about the practice’s cancellation policy and fee. Responses to routine questions with keywords such as “confirm,” “cancel,” and “reschedule” can also be automated. Automation can reduce no-shows.
- Prioritize Patients based on Urgency: Health needs vary in urgency. Higher priority should be given to patients with urgent needs, which means easing of rules so that they can schedule same-day or next-day appointments. Certain health issues like allergies or side effects of medication, don’t need a physical office visit and can be addressed through an online consultation. Patients can upload their complaints on the virtual platform and practice staff can evaluate the symptoms and schedule appointments for those who need an immediate consultation with a specialist.
- Maintain an Active Waiting List: Creating an active patient waiting list is an effective way to minimize the effects of no-shows and cancellations. Patients can be sent notifications about vacant slots that open up so that those who want an earlier visit can schedule one. Slots that remain unfilled can be used to meet the requirement for same-day appointments that come up as the day progresses.
- Keep Track of Trends: Identify patients who cancel their appointments frequently and why they do so. This can help schedule appointments to suit their convenience. Providing preferred time slots for prescheduled appointments can reduce no-shows and missed appointments. Tracking data can help adjust and schedule appointments at a time that will be more convenient for patients who tend to cancel often. Assessing data collected overtime can help you take steps to minimize patient wait times, reduce bottlenecks and improve care quality.
- Consider Visit Duration: The time required for a visit would differ among patients depending on the seriousness of their condition and the level of care needed. For example, a standard wellness visit for a patient with multiple conditions would take longer than one for a person who is generally healthy. If your practice offers different treatments, fix time slots based on the duration needed for the treatment. In fact, considering these factors can help you determine when to schedule visit or whether it’s necessary to schedule it at all.
- Patient Scheduling Services: When a patient fixes an appointment, administrative staff must handle the pre-registration which includes scheduling, insurance eligibility verification, and patient account establishment. Streamlining these process are the key to optimizing healthcare revenue cycle management. It is during the preregistration process that a patient account is created with medical histories and insurance coverage details. Outsourcing patient appointment scheduling to an experienced medical billing service provider is a viable option to manage these tasks efficiently. Equipped with advanced online software, a team of dedicated professionals will work with you to schedule appointments based on your requirements and manage appointment confirmation and re-scheduling. They can ensure a well-coordinated appointment scheduling process which can gain patient trust, boost practice efficiency, and positively impact the revenue cycle. Importantly, with experts handling this administrative function, you and your staff can focus on your core activities. Along with scheduling appointments, they also provide efficient support for insurance eligibility verification, claims processing, and denials management.
Today, AI-enabled software has set new standards for patient appointment scheduling. Advanced AI-enabled scheduling software can improve convenience for both patients and providers. AI can recognize patients with complex needs and determine their scheduling preferences and then either auto-schedules or recommends the most appropriate date and time, location, and provider. Optimized schedules can be set up for patients seeing more than on physician on the same day, saving time for both the patient and scheduling staff to schedule the next appointment.