According to healthcare experts, making relevant changes in scheduling and managing patient workflow can minimize the average patient wait time for a new appointment from eleven weeks to two weeks. Researchers at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) have pointed out that better management of patient schedules can cut wait times, allowing earlier detection and treatment of many conditions with life-saving benefits. Their observations, based on a 2012 study covering 15 states, showed that a patient has to wait more than nine weeks to see a physician and that this mismanagement of appointment scheduling is delaying access to patient care.
The study analyzed and reviewed appointment data during the period January 2008 to November 2011. Operational data, the scheduling system and the call center that schedules appointments were examined in detail. It was found that though each physician was allotted new appointments, these were used as follow-up appointments with the result that new patients had to wait longer for their consultations. The researchers resolved this issue by ensuring that the physicians kept their new appointments while the practice’s medical staff managed the follow-up appointments.
Medical practices can enjoy the following benefits with a proper appointment scheduling system:
- Track patient schedule information
- Sort patients by initial/last name, date of birth, and/or patient ID
- Quick and accurate fixing of appointments
- Facility for booking of recurring visits
- Track no-shows and cancellations
- Identify and reduce the impact of overtime and cancellations
- Update patient information
- Group scheduling
- Simplified appointment rescheduling and cross-scheduling, and referrals of patients to other offices
- Orderly callbacks and appointment reminders
Scheduling appointments can be a time consuming job for busy physicians and their staff. They would also have to invest in expensive appointment scheduling software. Outsourcing the task to an established healthcare business process outsourcing company is a practical solution. The right firm can provide customized appointment scheduling service at affordable costs to help their clients reduce patient wait time and improve treatment outcomes.