Are patient scheduling & workflow causing your staff headaches? Managing time in a medical office can be a nightmare, but a few practical tips, can help your staff be better prepared and improve your patient workflow.
- Value punctuality! Educate your patients about arrival time and your physicians to enter the room on time as well. Any amount of delays will create a ripple effect that will expand across the rest of your day.
- Make data your best ally. Tracking time is vital to develop a more effective approach to tackle patient traffic. What is the average time physicians are spending with patients? Are new patients filling out office forms prior to their appointment? How much time do patients have to wait before a physician can see them? Identify other timing issues by looking at several weeks of data. This analysis will help you establish the root of issues causing the bottlenecks and workflow problems in your practice.
- Plan your strategy accordingly. Knowing how many physicians will be available on a particular week, the number of hours they can put in, and how many patients are scheduled each week will help you to better plan your patient flow.
- Be aware of seasonal trends. For example, in Florida from around October to April, “Snowbirds”, (Northerners that travel South seeking warmer climates) carry travel medical insurance that will typically cover emergency medical services, but no routine, preventive or pre-existing conditions. Also prior to the beginning of the school year, children require medical check-ups and towards the end of the year, some practices see an increase in patients seeking to capitalize on their met deductibles. Many ailments are seasonal in nature with specifics increases during the winter or the summer. Knowing these trends may help plan and better prepare your practice when scheduling.
- How about Group-Scheduling? Some medical offices have found practical benefits when scheduling patients that share similar conditions on specific days or by age groups. By doing so, the office staff can maintain a steadier pace when processing patients, and doctors find they can apply more mental focus when diagnosing.
Each medical practice is different and the challenges vary by geographic location, specialty, and other variables. However, these and other helpful tips you can pick up along the way can make a favorable impact when managing your patient workflow.