Scheduling can become a nightmare for practices if not planned and handled well. If you rely on manual on-call schedules to assign appointments to doctors, you’ll know what we are talking about. Balancing the number of patients and the quality of care dispensed can be challenging, but it’s important for your success.
Miscalculations can potentially lead to overbooking or underbooking of patients. The ones most affected by overbooking are the patients – a critical flaw that is the number one complaint by them. They seem to find waiting for more than 15 minutes to be unacceptable. On the other hand, underbooking can have dire repercussions on the financial health of the practice.
Here are the 5 most common patient scheduling mistakes your practice should avoid:
1. Repeated scheduling of the same doctor
While a doctor may always be willing to consider extra assignments from time to time, repeated scheduling of the same doctor for persistent and conflicting assignments is a burden. To overcome the risk of such incidents, match the doctor’s qualifications with the nature of the case. Also, instruct your receptionist to avoid booking appointments if the doctor isn’t available.
2. Unfair Schedule Distribution
The trouble with manual systems is that they do not accurately balance call schedules for multiple doctors over a long period of time. Every doctor must get an adequate share of cases. If persistent complaints are being floated at your practice about unfair schedule distribution, it is time to take action.
3. Lack of a Scheduling System
In order to maintain and enforce a schedule, you need the right tools. In a manual system, this can be a dedicated staff who is in charge of assigning and maintaining your appointments. The question of short staffing should be handled before it becomes a major issue at your practice. Or, you can use a scheduling software to avoid manual errors, reduce staffing costs and improve efficiency.
4. Too many appointments
One of the biggest mistakes is to let requests and patient appointments pile up without having an appropriate number of skilled staff. This problem stems when a paper-based system is in use. Technology is being introduced in every section of healthcare; however, administrative side is still lagging far behind in this contest. Embrace the power of technology and introduce digital patient records, monitoring and appointment scheduling at your practice.
5. Not Keeping Track
The schedule you build may look perfect on paper, but might not translate to practice. For example, the doctor may actually be on vacation when the schedule shows him on-call. Keeping track of this while planning a schedule, and factoring in potential emergencies is necessary.
This holds particularly true when you are running a large practice. If any or all of these mistakes are creeping into your doctor schedules, it is time to take action. Remember, nipping the problem in the bud will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.