2IntroductionScheduling keeps the office functioning smoothly throughout the business day.If scheduling is not done efficiently, the entire office does not function efficiently.
3This chapter will examine: Three methods of appointment schedulingHow to recover from schedule interruptionsSetting up a scheduling matrixDealing with consistently late patientsReasons for failed appointments
4Guidelines for Appointment Scheduling Some offices stick to a strict schedule.Some are more flexible.Some are never on schedule, no matter what day or time an appointment is made.
5Guidelines for Appointment Scheduling Appointment scheduling systems must be individualized to each specific practice.When scheduling, consider three things:Patient needPhysician preference and habitsAvailable facilities
6Patient Needs Determining Office Hours and Appointment Times: Is the office located in a busy metropolitan area or a rural area?What are the average ages of the patients?Is the area more industrial or residential?What types of patients are seen?Are evening and weekend appointments essential for most of the patients served?
7Assessing Patient Needs What is the purpose of the visit?Will the patient require the physician’s time, or will other staff members perform all or part of the service?What is the age of the patient?Does the patient need an after-school appointment?Does the patient object to traveling after dark?Will the patient have problems taking off work for appointments?
8Physician Preferences and Habits Does the physician become restless if the reception room is not packed with waiting patients?Does the physician worry if even one patient is kept waiting?Is the physician methodic and careful about being in the facility when patient appointments are scheduled to begin?
9Physician Preferences and Habits Is the physician habitually late?Does the physician move easily from one patient to another?Does the physician require a break time after a few patients?Would the physician rather see fewer patients and spend more time with them or more patients throughout the day?
10Available FacilitiesMake certain that the facilities needed for each patient will be available when scheduling appointments.
11Methods of Appointment Scheduling The two most common methods of appointment scheduling are:Computer-basedAppointment book
12Appointment BooksConsider the following features when choosing an appointment book.The size should conform to the desk space available.The book should be large enough to accommodate the practice.The book should open flat for easy writing and reference.The book should allow space for writing when the appointment will be, who the patient is, and why the patient is being seen.Bottom line = Physician preference
13Appointment BooksColor-coded books are easy to use and are helpful when the patient is to be seen a certain number of weeks later.
14Computer SchedulingComputers can select the best appointment time based on the information entered about the patient.The length of time needed for various procedures can be entered in advance, and when that procedure is scheduled, the correct time will be automatically allotted.
15Computer SchedulingComputers can search by patient name and find all scheduled appointments.More than one person can use the scheduling program at one time.Printouts can be produced for all of the employees who need that information.
16Self-SchedulingPatients can log on and schedule their own appointments.Allows for patient confidentiality by showing only available appointment times.Reduces calls to the office.Available to patients 24 hours a day.Computer-illiterate individuals will object to such a system, so phone scheduling should still be made available.
17Advance Preparation Establishing a Matrix Block off time slots when the physicians are not available:- Holidays- Days off- Lunch, dinner, and other breaks- Time for hospital rounds- Meeting times- Vacations
18Types of Appointment Scheduling Open Office HoursAlso called tidal wave scheduling.Patients are seen in the order of their arrival.Often used in rural practices.Can result in long wait times.Can overburden office staff members.
19Types of Appointment Scheduling Scheduled AppointmentsPractitioners can see more patients with less pressure.Scheduling appointments takes skill, organization, and efficiency.The scheduler must know the length of time involved with various procedures and various classifications of office visits.
20Types of Appointment Scheduling Flexible Office HoursEvening hoursWeekend hoursExtended hours late in the eveningEarly morning hours
21Types of Appointment Scheduling Wave SchedulingCreates short-term flexibility within each hour.Assumes the actual time needed for all patients will even out over the course of the day.Schedules three patients for one time slot.Those three patients are seen in the order of their arrival.
22Types of Appointment Scheduling Modified Wave SchedulingTwo patients arrive at the top of an hour.A third patient arrives at half past the hour.This hourly cycle is repeated throughout the day.Can be modified further, such as scheduling three patients for one hour and none the next hour.
23Types of Appointment Scheduling Double BookingScheduling two patients at the same time. Often frustrating for patients.Scheduler must consider the reason for the appointment when using this method to ensure enough time is allotted for the patients.Grouping ProceduresScheduling like procedures together
24Types of Appointment Scheduling Advance BookingSet appointments far in advance whenever possible.Give patients appointment cards to remind them of their time and date.Confirm appointments as they approach.Reschedule if needed.
25Time Patterns Leave some open time during each day’s schedule. Keep one available appointment in the morning and in the afternoon.Schedule time for the physician to take a break in the morning and afternoon.
26Time PatternsRemember that Mondays and Fridays are heavy phone and appointment days.Allow for more buffer time on these two days.
27Patient Wait TimeBe aware of the amount of time patients have been waiting.Patients should be called to the back office at their scheduled appointment time.Patients should not have to wait more than 5 or 10 minutes from then to see the physician.
28Patient Wait Time (cont’d) If the patient has waited more than 15 minutes in the reception area, offer an explanation for the delay.Give the patient the option of waiting or rescheduling
29Telephone SchedulingUse excellent telephone technique when scheduling appointments.Be considerate of requested times whenever possible.Explain why a time is not available, and offer a substitution.
30Offering Patients Choices Offer the patient:A choice of daysA choice of morning or afternoonA choice of times
31Writing in the Appointment Book Write legibly.Remember that the appointment book may be subpoenaed to court.Put the patient’s contact phone number next to all entries.Use cell phone numbers whenever possible.
32Scheduling New Patients Gather as much information as possible on the telephone when scheduling the first appointment.Attempt to get all of the information needed to construct the patient’s medical record.Determine the amount of time needed for the office visit.
33Scheduling New Patients Offer the first available appointment to the patient.Remember to offer choices when scheduling the appointment.Explain parking issues.Give accurate directions to the office.Explain the approximate cost for the first visit, and make the patient aware of payment policies for new patients.
34Preparing for New Patients Mail patient information packets if there is time before the actual appointment date.Send the information via if possible.Determine if the patient is a referral.Send a thank-you note to the person who referred the patient.Confirm the appointment the day before.
35Scheduling Established Patients In PersonUsually done when the patient is leaving the office after an appointment.Offer the patient choices in day, date, and time.Always offer an appointment card.Provide excellent customer service to the patient.
36Scheduling Established Patients By TelephoneOffer the patient a choice of day, date, and times.Ask the patient if there have been any significant changes in address, phone numbers, or insurance coverage if he or she has not been to the office in a while.
37Scheduling Other Types of Appointments Inpatient ProceduresCall the facility where the appointment is to take place.Provide any information requested about the patient.Determine what the patient should bring to the facility when arriving for admission.Provide all appointment details to the patient in writing, if possible.
38Scheduling Other Types of Appointments Outpatient and Inpatient Procedure AppointmentsCall the facility where the appointment is to take place.Provide any information requested about the patient.Determine what the patient should bring to the appointment.Provide all appointment details to the patient in writing, if possible.
39Physician OrdersSome physicians give patients the orders to take with them for inpatient and outpatient admissions.Often, orders are written on a prescription form for outpatient procedures and treatments.
40Series of Appointments Some patients need a series of appointments for repeat or continued treatment.Try to set the appointments for the same times and days for ease of remembering.Provide appointment cards to the patient.
42Special Circumstances Late PatientsBe understanding when emergencies occur.Make certain patients are aware of policies that affect late patients.Tell habitually late patients to arrive 30 minutes before their actual appointment time.
43Special Circumstances Rescheduling Canceled AppointmentsMake certain to remove the original appointment before scheduling the new appointment.
44Special Circumstances Emergency CallsTriage the call according to policy.First, make certain to obtain a phone number and address where the patient is located.Project a caring and reassuring attitude.
45Special Circumstances Acutely Ill PatientsFollow office policy in deciding whether the patient should be scheduled for the same day.Escort acutely ill patients directly to examination rooms if possible on their arrival.
46Special Circumstances Physician ReferralsHonor requests for fast scheduling of patients who are referred by other physicians if at all possible.Obtain patient information from the referring office, if possible.
47Special Circumstances Patients without AppointmentsFollow office policy for seeing patients without appointments.If the patient does not need to be seen immediately, schedule for the first available time.Make the patient aware of the appointment policy.
48Special Circumstances Failed Appointments or No-showsConfirm appointments according to office policy.Attempt to reschedule the appointment.Make certain the patient understands the cancellation policy.Some offices charge patients for failed appointments if they do not cancel within 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled time.
49Other Types of Appointments Other physiciansPharmaceutical representativesSalespersonsMiscellaneous callers
50Planning for the Next Day Look over the appointments.Review the medical records of patients to be seen.Make certain all laboratory reports and other information is available for physician review.