The Smart Medical Practice

Practice Management Hacks—Tip #2: Avoid These Costly Appointment Scheduling Mistakes


Practice Management Hacks—Tip #2: Avoid These Costly Appointment Scheduling Mistakes

Five Scheduling Practices That Are Costing You Money

To maximize revenue, it makes sense to run your practice as much like a business as possible. At a minimum, that approach involves treating each appointment in your schedule as a product you are trying to sell.

That being the case, any scheduling practice that limits your ability to “sell” an appointment is literally costing your practice money. Here are five common behaviors to watch for and attempt to minimize.

  1. Providers who intentionally try to create open slots before lunch or the end of the day. The key changing this behavior is to tackle it in a positive manner—offering an incentive to providers to fill all or nearly all of their appointment slots.
  2. Not using first-available appointment slots for patients. Ideally, your schedulers should be highly motivated to fill empty slots whenever possible That motivation can be based on performance reviews, incentives, or bonuses, but it must be supported by a system that makes finding those slots simple and fast.
  3. Neglecting to book follow-up appointments at the time of visit. Systems that make this part of the patient visit will increase the number of follow-up visits that are booked and (hopefully) kept.
  4. Not routinely providing email or text appointment reminders. Speaking of keeping appointments, this is where automation shines, taking the burden of reminders off your front-office staff while ensuring that an email, text message, or voice-based reminder goes out to every patient with an upcoming appointment.
  5. Not optimizing your appointment template to assign timing based on appointment type.Tailoring your schedule to reflect a variety of appointment types will help every provider maximize their time during the workday. This process should be strongly supported by your scheduling software so that tweaking times is a simple process and appointments can be adjusted for individual providers or changed across the board with just a couple of mouse-clicks.

Once you’ve identified the scheduling-specific behaviors that are limiting your revenue stream, you may want to consider creating a policy around double booking, which an excellent way to hedge your bets against no-show and cancellations. Good scheduling technology will allow you to double book patients and even govern which staff members have authorization to double book.

Another practice to consider is calculating the value of each appointment slot and communicating that information to everyone in the practice. You might ask staff and clinicians to guess at the number and hold a brief meeting in which you share the real number and compare it to their estimates—they may find it eye opening.

Finally, the scheduling software you use to manage patient appointments needs to have a security feature built in that limits who is able to delete an appointment. Treating a patient that pays cash, and then deleting the appointment from the calendar is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to office theft.

 


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