Most medical practices aim to establish scheduling parameters based on perceived capacity and the appointment time needs or constraints of the physicians and providers that see the patients. But there’s so much more to maintaining an ideal schedule that meets demands of patients, offers smooth workflow for physicians, and ensures the physicians achieve ideal productivity standards.

Begin by taking reviewing the schedule of the past 30 days. What went wrong (no shows, idle providers), what went right, and why? For example, what is the average number of visits per day for each provider? And is it consistent? How many holes are left in the schedule? Is this because schedulers are leaving gaps, or are missed appointments the problem?

Identifying what’s sabotaging your goal of an efficient schedule is the first step. The next is figuring out what can you do to fix it. It can be fixed, and one thing is for sure, ignoring it guarantees you will continue to experience the same (or greater) inefficiency then you have in the past and that’s going to hurt your profits.

Toss out past habits and be willing to give your scheduling system and the attitude behind it a fresh start. Physicians must learn to maximize the percentage of their time spent with patients. Patients should be physician-ready when the doctor enters the exam room and that staff is properly trained so the physician can delegate tasks that do not require their level of expertise.

Honor the appointment schedule. Let staff know what your expectations are and hold them accountable and above all – start on time to stay on time. This is the beginning of respecting the schedule and running a smooth system. If you don’t value the appointment schedule neither will your patients or your staff and you can bet the loss productivity this causes will cost you plenty.

Medical practices are already feeling the pinch of constraints and changing dynamics brought on by marketplace and regulatory trends. Physicians and managers are concerned about the unpredictable future of private practice. But the best way to take charge of your future is to find ways to make it better. A good starting point is the appointment schedule.

I’m presenting more scheduling ideas in a webinar that can help you change the way you think about the appointment schedule and make it work for you.  “Scheduling Secrets that Master Workflow and Profitability” is offered by Greenbranch Publishing on November 6th.  To learn more, go to: https://www.greenbranch.com/store/index.cfm/product/1430_20/scheduling-secrets-for-the-medical-practice-that-master-workflow-and-profitability.cfm

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