Best Practices for Scheduling Medical Appointments
If you’ve noticed that your current appointment scheduling processes are creating long wait times and frustration among patients and staff, it’s time to evaluate and adjust your systems. The functionalities that have served us in the past might not serve us well forever, and this is especially true in the post-pandemic healthcare industry.
Leverage data generated by your practice.
To understand your practice’s needs and make improvements, you’ll need to identify the bottlenecks and challenges that are affecting your staff and your practice. You may also need new tools like dedicated appointment scheduling software to collect and report data on patient visits, wait times, cancellations, and no-shows, so you can recognize and address their causes. The right software can streamline and even automate some scheduling workflows, and having easy access to scheduling data can help you continually improve processes to gradually develop the best system for you and your patients.
Send frequent reminders to reduce the likelihood of last-minute cancellations and no-shows.
Appointment reminders are easy with appointment scheduling software. Rather than practice management staff calling and notifying patients of upcoming appointments — a task that can easily be forgotten or pushed off on exceptionally busy days — automated appointment reminders help patients remember (and, if necessary, cancel) their appointments before it’s too late to fill their slot with a new patient. Appointment notifications also increase patients’ chances of showing up on time by granting ample time to plan their day.
Use telehealth to supplement visits when possible.
One of the most prominent changes stemming from COVID-19 was the exponential expansion of online telehealth services. Adopting technology that supplies HIPAA-compliant channels for real-time communication between providers and patients can drastically improve efficiency, compared to in-person appointments. Patients no longer need to travel to appointments, check-in, and sit in waiting rooms before speaking with a healthcare provider. Telehealth is especially beneficial for short follow-up appointments, in which they can describe their symptoms and side effects or confirm that no further treatment is needed. When paired with remote patient monitoring — which allows patients to measure and instantly transmit biometric data from their smartphone or tablet — telehealth can be incredibly powerful in managing patients’ chronic conditions with less-frequent in-person visits, making them more likely to stick to long-term care plans.