Original Article by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD.

For patients, scheduling an appointment might be a click away, but for the people who manage and schedule the appointments it can be a mammoth task. No patient wants to waste time sitting in a waiting room and no doctor wants to be kept waiting or rushed while treating the patient. This is where time management skills come into play. Below are a few tricks that can help in managing the patient schedules so that your clinic has a regular flow of patients and no one has a chance to complain, patient or doctor.

  1. The patient flow is seen to be leaner in the early hours of practice. As the day goes by, patient volume increases and it might become increasingly difficult to handle them. Also the doctor cannot give an adequate amount of time to each one of his patients. Hence, it is a good idea to schedule two appointments for the beginning of every hour and keep the latter part of the hour open for an appointment. In this way, the patients won’t have to wait too long and the doctor can also spend enough time per patient as he knows there is no need to rush. This is known as modified wave technique1. Just make sure that the 2 scheduled patients that have too many co-morbid conditions or a chronic medical history, are not slated together right at the start, as it will affect the patients later. Try and schedule an acute and a chronic patient together.
  2. Patient flow is significantly affected by the seasonal changes. To avoid sudden overflow during any season, make sure that your regular patients are given follow-up appointments before or after the expected seasonal patient rush.
  3. The perpetual problem that physicians face is overcrowding of patients on Mondays and Fridays. To get a grip on this problem for good, one can just schedule the first two appointments of the day and keep the remaining day as an open slot, seeing patients on a walk-in basis, as they call and come. This way the doctor can see the first 2 patients thoroughly and the patients coming in later won’t have to wait for prolonged periods of time.
  4. Another way of segregating appointments is on the basis of days. For example, on Monday all surgical cases may be scheduled, on Tuesday all pediatric cases can be taken, so on and so forth.
  5. Your schedule is bound to get crowded before and after the vacation time. This hassle can be avoided by some advance planning. Make sure that the receptionist does not give too many regular follow-up appointments during this time. As the days of your vacation comes nearer, ask the receptionist to block out progressively larger portions of your schedule many days prior to your vacation and do the same thing in reverse order for a few days after your vacation. This will help in accommodating the new as well as urgent cases that might demand your attention.

These are a few ways that will help in better scheduling and smoother running of your practice. Remember to inform your receptionist of any changes in the schedule so that the appointments can be moved around accordingly.


Barron WM. Failed appointments. Who misses them, why they are missed, and what can be done. Prim Care. 1980 Dec;7(4):563-74. Review.

Original Article by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD.