The author of this article is Judy Capko, a practice management consultant with Capko & Morgan.
Scheduling problems are a common practice-wide issue, but here are some helpful strategies to deal with this important work flow issue:
- Identify trends. Tools are available to better understand specific scheduling and to track patient flow problems. Look at 2 weeks of data to identify trends and causes of these problems.
- Establish a baseline. Determine what is considered “on schedule.” Be sure to look at scheduling patterns for total length of patient visits rather than appointment length.
- Adjust schedules. Some problems in work flow aren’t too difficult to fix, but the key is to schedule realistically based on the time needs of providers. Consider longer scheduled time slots for patients with multiple care issues. Efficiency can also improve if nurses are trained to take on more clinical-support responsibilities.
- Avoid double booking. Try scheduling “work-in” patients alongside a new patient visit. This enables physicians to see add-ons while nurses work up new patients. If booking demands of the practice persist, find long-term solutions rather than continue double booking.
Ultimately, practices should work as a team to find the best solutions for scheduling and patient-flow issues. Before implementing any changes, consider the practice’s specific needs carefully.