Appointment scheduling is the lifeblood of any office. Your clients or patients rely on your office scheduling to gain access to your services, and you rely on an efficient appointment system to conduct your practice or business. Proper appointment scheduling has been described by many experts as one of the most important aspects of your office. Keep the following important principles in mind when scheduling appointments:
Scheduling Distant Appointments
The longer the interval between the appointment and the time the appointment is scheduled, the greater the likelihood of a no-show or missed appointment. To reduce no-shows, many offices do not schedule appointments beyond a few months. Instead, they ask patients to call back at a later time to schedule their appointment. Practice management consultants consider this a grave error. Failure to schedule and remind patients of their appointments is a lost opportunity and a setup for legal liability; you have a duty to advise your clients or patients of the need for appropriate follow-up, especially if they have circumstances that require careful monitoring. To learn more about effective techniques for setting up future appointments, see our article titled “Benefits of Targeted Appointment Recall for Healthcare Professionals”.
Individuals who call back for a follow-up appointment create additional work for your office. Instead, a simpler tickler system may work well in your office. For example, some offices schedule a future appointment and have the client or patient complete a reminder postcard that is sent in sufficient time. The drawback of this reminder system is the cost of materials, postage, labor, and a patient who relocates to a different address may never receive the postcard reminder. Reminder postcards completed by your clients or patients do not have a traceable trail for medical-legal documentation. To get more info on bookafy
For many, an online-based appointment reminder system is an ideal method for appointment scheduling. Sophisticated online appointment systems have automated functions that generate recall by email or by printing reminder notices. The better programs have defaults for appointment recall that are modifiable by your office staff. For example, clients or patients with internet access receive their appointment reminder by email and are given directions for booking their appointment online. Individuals who do not have online access are sent printed reminder notices on a monthly basis with instructions to call your office for an appointment. An important aspect of return visits is to make your clients or patients aware of the importance of diligent follow-up.
Clients and patients are much more likely to keep their appointments when they actively participate in their appointment scheduling. Reminder postcards that are composed by the patient are one traditional method. However, online-based programs may have features that allow patients to arrange and change their appointments. Individuals who participate in the selection of the date and time of their return visit are more likely to keep their appointment. Online-based appointment programs have the potential for saving a tremendous amount of office work.
Your office staff has limited time for keeping up with the demands of a busy office. An online appointment reminder system that is comprehensive and easy to operate may be a welcome benefit. A reminder system that incorporates all of the features you need to run a smooth practice is desirable. Printable calendars can be obtained for free from several online sources. However, the best appointment systems obviate the need for a paper calendar, provide an electronic trail of appointment confirmations and reminders, and are able to integrate appointments made by telephone with those made online. Some online appointment scheduling systems deliver copies of appointment confirmations and reminders to a separate email inbox for archiving. A service provider may access archived records in case these records are ever needed for patient management or verification in a legal proceeding.