Optimizing your patient scheduling process not only benefits your clinic and providers, it also improves the patient experience and increases access to care for patients who need it. In addition, it limits wasted time or gaps in a physician schedule, which increases total revenues. Unfortunately, not every clinic is working on ways to optimize and improve scheduling.
As many as one in ten patients are not able to get an appointment that they need in a timely manner, leading to long wait times that frustrate patients, but also opening up the potential for a worse health outcome if someone cannot access care in a reasonable time frame. As patients increasingly behave like consumers and start to shop around for care, they are more likely to look for another provider if your clinic cannot accommodate their requests for timely appointments.
Practice management software tools now make it easier than ever to automate your patient scheduling process, which allows your staff to maximize the number of patient appointments you can fit into any given day while minimizing downtime and schedule gaps. Taking it a step further, you can also allow patients to schedule their own appointments online with software that allows a patient to quickly view available appointment days and times, and select the one that works best rather than taking up valuable staff time on the phone with someone to get it scheduled.
Notify Patients Quickly and Easily of Last-Minute Openings
If you do have a long wait time for patients, many are willing to go on a “waiting list” to be notified if an appointment opens up sooner. While this is a great way to fill last-minute cancellations, it can also be a serious burden on your staff, especially if you’re relying on phone calls to alert patients about openings. Plus with the rise in robocalls and spam calls, only about 24% of calls are answered today. The other 76% go to voicemail, and your staff ends up playing “phone tag” with potential patients.
There is a better solution. Many patient scheduling software programs allow you to collect mobile phone numbers and alert patients via text if there is an appointment that opens up. About 90% of texts are read in the first 3 minutes, and giving people the simple option to reply via text to let you know they want the appointment can dramatically reduce gaps in your schedule. It can also improve your patient satisfaction when someone is able to get in sooner than expected to see the doctor.
Send Scheduling Reminders
Patients often forget about their appointments, especially if they are scheduled long in advance. Sending out a set of automated text and email reminders can help patients remember their appointment times, and let you know in advance if they can’t make it. This prevents last-minute cancellations that leave you with open appointments you can’t fill and ensures that each patient gets the care s/he needs in a timely manner.
To learn more about the scheduling and clinic efficiency tools available from AdvancedMD, contact us for a demo.