Patient appointment scheduling is critical for a successful medical practice; however, it can be time- and labor-intensive. Hundreds of appointments are typically scheduled each week and these may include new patients as well as existing patients. When experience, skill, and planning are combined as in outsourced billing services, the scheduling process also becomes efficient. When the scheduling process is efficient, it works to reduce the burden of your in-house staff, and ensure patient satisfaction. Medical appointment scheduling can be provided for diagnostic assays, and physician consultation and treatment. While hospitals, individual/group medical practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities can benefit from a partnering billing service, some providers may choose to have the scheduling process done in-house. In this case, it would be ideal to follow some best practices.
Must Have Practices in Patient Appointment Scheduling
- Scheduling in Consecutive Blocks
Morning appointments can be scheduled from noon backward and afternoon appointments from noon forwards. This is to reduce the number of empty appointment slots throughout the day. If there are any blocks of time not filled with appointments, the staff can utilize those to hold team meetings or carry out administrative tasks that need attention.
- Find out whether the Healthcare Service Is to Be Provided In-person
It is best to provide in-person appointments for patients who actually need face-to-face time with the physician. This is time-saving and helps you schedule more revenue-producing appointments. Moreover, your patients also can be kept happy.
- Implementation of Self-Scheduling
One of the best practices in patient appointment scheduling is to give patients the power to self-schedule their appointments via their own mobile phone or computer. Self-scheduling also saves staff time spent managing appointment bookings and encourages patients to practice good time management. Technology is advanced enough now and allows patients to schedule their appointments through scheduling software. Self-scheduling ensures patient satisfaction, and helps the practice reduce the time spent on booking appointments.
- Automating Responses to Frequently Asked Questions
Automating appointment scheduling is a huge time saver. Most front-desk staff spend the majority of their time answering questions and only a small portion crafting new appointments. By implementing an automated system that gives automatic responses to routine questions, you can free up more time for your staff to work on more important things.
- Creating an Automated Patient Waitlist
Most physicians want to ensure that their patients never miss an appointment, so creating an automated patient wait list system is of paramount importance, because the automated system can make sure that every patient gets an appointment date and time when they book one. Even if there are cancellations and no-shows, the system can reorganize the appointment schedule in real time and even send messages to the patients asking them if they want to move their appointment to another date.
- Prioritizing Appointments
The practice of prioritizing patient appointments should be an essential part of every physician’s practice. It’s pretty simple once you look at the numbers: how long an average patient appointment takes and how much time it would take to process each individual case (which is dependent on the type of case and condition). This is not only useful for patients who are in dire need of help but also for those who are likely to ask a lot of questions. Online scheduling software can help patients book their own appointments online using a rules-based scheduling platform. Such a platform helps determine the specific requirements of each patient.
- Allow Real-time Scheduling
Make sure that your patients can check and book their preferred appointment date and time with real-time scheduling. This will save time and provide great convenience to patients.
- Utilize patient data to identify important trends
Make use of the practice data to identify which patients need more time than what is allotted to them, where bottlenecks are created, and so on to set meaningful metrics towards which the entire team can work.
- Utilize Strategic Scheduling Solutions
One strategy is to double-book patients with a high probability of not showing up for the consultation. This data can be obtained through predictive analytics of the available patient data. A close scrutiny of a patient’s no-show history will help identify the best times for double booking. This strategy helps save valuable time and effort for your medical facility. Another option some patient scheduling systems provide is to allow you to message your patients who are on the waiting list to notify them that a spot has become available.
- Use email and Text to Confirm Patient Appointments
This can help remind your patients about their scheduled appointments. Patients can be prompted to reschedule their visit in case the time is inconvenient for them.
- Outsourcing of Medical Billing
The keyword here is efficiency; outsourcing medical billing is the best thing a medical establishment can do, because it allows the providers to focus on what really matters: serving the patients. This also helps in reducing the operating expenses, which is always a good thing because the money can be used to improve the facilities and provide advanced care for the patients.
A not-so-obvious advantage that outsourced billing services bring to the table is that they can keep up with the recent changes in regulations and help healthcare organizations avoid that serious headache.
If you are looking for a cost-effective solution for outsourcing your medical billing, take a look at OSI – Medical Billing Company.