What Is Modified Wave Scheduling?

Even practices with adequate staff and organized systems may benefit from refining their appointment scheduling processes. Tardy patients and varying appointment lengths can quickly create and add to patient wait times, impacting patient satisfaction and damaging a practice’s reputation. Some providers are turning to modified wave scheduling to combat these holdups and improve practice efficiency.

Modified wave scheduling is a technique that groups several patients into a “wave” and schedules their appointments for a particular time slot rather than scheduling them individually. These patients receive care individually, but their appointment times overlap with one another, often at the start or end of an hour. Providers take a few minutes between seeing each patient to update records, manage reports and subscriptions, and prepare for their next appointment.

Traditional scheduling can lack flexibility and make patients feel rushed by overwhelmed providers and staff. Modified wave scheduling aims to improve efficiency, decrease delays, and help staff manage patient flow. But does it work? 

Pros and Cons of Modified Wave Scheduling

No process is perfect for everyone, but modified wave scheduling has numerous advantages. Consider trying a new scheduling method if your practice struggles with patient flow and frequent delays. Below, we will explore some pros and cons of modified wave scheduling to determine what kinds of practices and patients could benefit from the technique.

Pros of Modified Wave Scheduling

Increased flexibility: Patients’ needs vary so widely from one another’s, even if they receive the same treatment. One patient might have several concerns to discuss with their doctor, while another might say nothing. A rigid appointment schedule is challenging, especially if you want your patient to feel heard and satisfied with their care. Modified wave scheduling allows for variation in patient interactions without causing significant delays.

Reduced patient wait times: Patients consider wait times a key indicator of the quality of their care, so reducing wait times is critical in retaining patients. Modified wave scheduling accounts for cancellations, no-shows, and patients arriving in need of emergency care, so patients can be seen quickly by reducing delays from earlier in the day.

Improved efficiency: Scheduling appointments in waves instead of on a patient-by-patient basis can reduce downtime for practice staff and improve efficiency. Instead of waiting for the next patient appointment, providers and staff can move quickly to a different patient scheduled in the same wave. “Buffer” periods between waves allow providers to catch up on paperwork or time lost by extended talks with patients.

Cons of Modified Wave Scheduling

Staff morale and stress: Change can be distressing, so switching to a modified wave schedule can be difficult if staff is not adequately informed and trained beforehand. Checking in several patients at once might be overwhelming for some staff members. If staff is accustomed to frequent breaks and downtime while using a traditional scheduling technique, they may struggle when those breaks are eliminated.

Not suitable for long appointments: Regular checkups and follow-ups with patients are relatively quick and easy to group in waves. However, longer appointments — such as medical procedures and treatments — will be harder to stack in this way. Longer appointments or appointments that require more one-on-one provider care might take too long to benefit from wave scheduling.

Difficult for large practices: Modified wave scheduling works when planned and executed well, but this may be harder to accomplish at large practices with high patient volume. While this technique can reduce patient wait times, it can also extend them. Staff must be synchronized to smoothly carry out modified wave scheduling, so exceptionally large teams may struggle with the intricacy and pace.

Schedule However You Prefer with Benchmark Solutions

Benchmark Solutions’ practice management software can easily accommodate modified wave scheduling or whichever process works best for your providers and patients. Our configurable dashboard can display appointments or availability and sort by provider, necessary equipment, or appointment type.

The benefits of using Benchmark PM include improved efficiency, reduced administrative workload, improved patient care, and increased revenue. By streamlining practice operations and automating tasks, healthcare providers can focus more on patient care and less on administrative work. Plus, our expert ProTech IT team can integrate our practice management software into whatever other systems you currently use.

Want to learn more about Benchmark Solutions’ customizable scheduling solutions?

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