MEDICAL APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING
When was your last physical? If you had to think about it, then it is past due. So call your doctor’s office and get it scheduled. Be warned – your doctor may not have openings for at least three to four months, but that is not your biggest concern. Can I speak to a live person without a long wait or going through a lengthy phone tree? Doctor’s offices are routinely busy and in a place where customer service is just as important as the service you can only hope your doctor’s office employs enough people to get you on and off the phone quickly.
Medical appointment scheduling is the life line of any practice. The balance between effectiveness and profit are crucial in deciding how to handle medical appointment scheduling. There are four options, handle it in house, outsource it, online or a mixture of all.
After seeing your doctor, an efficient office will insist on scheduling your next appointment before you leave. This is where in house appointment scheduling is at its best and most efficient. In house scheduling is solely dependent on staff size and patient volume. Your staff will take vacations and get sick so another component is needed besides in house medical appointment scheduling.
Your staff is busy enough with patient interaction, filing records and a long list of office related activities. Answering the phones causes the biggest log jam in most doctors’ offices. Trying to concentrate and give the caller your undivided attention with patients leaning on your desk, the doctor calling your name and your missed break is taxing to say the least. Outsourcing appointment scheduling can eliminate enough rings to give your staff breathing room.
Choose a medical answering service that is accustomed to appointment scheduling or is familiar with your electronic health record (or EHR). There are hundreds of web based EHRs each specializing in every type of medical practice. From dental offices to orthopedics you are sure to find a match.
As an office manager of a doctor’s office you have to decide how much access you allow a third party service. Most, if not all EHRs have the ability to partition patient records so as to only allow for scheduling appointments and nothing else. Securing your patients information is paramount. See HYPE or HIPAA to see the importance of HIPAA.
There are some people who stay away from online purchases and the like. Scheduling an appointment online is no different. Technology is growing and little by little baby boomers are getting onboard and online. Having the ability to schedule is essential to any growing practice. During business hours it frees up your personnel and after hours it gives your office a 24 / 7 presence.
MIX IT UP
A combination of the three previous options covers you in all situations. On a slow day your office staff can handle the phones and patient flow. After hours, weekends and holidays your patients can go to your web site to set their own appointments or some calls can be routed to your medical answering service so they can talk to a live person.
Getting an appointment to see your doctor should always be a phone call away; now you have options.