The importance of patient scheduling and 3 tips
Whether you're a physician or you work in hospital management, you already know how important scheduling is in the medical environment. Unfortunately, a growing problem for hospitals and clinics of all kinds are missed appointments.
There are a number of problems that arise when patients miss their appointments. For starters, a missed medical appointment could pose serious health risks for the patients at your hospital, especially if they receive medical treatments during their appointments.
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Even if it's just a routine checkup, when a patient misses an appointment and keeps putting it off, it could mean the difference between catching a disease early on or once it's too late.
Medical concerns aside, missed appointments can wreak havoc on the scheduling process at your hospital.
Patients who miss their appointment usually want to reschedule at their convenience, which is seldom convenient for the physician at hand. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce no-shows at your hospital.
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Email, text, and phone call reminders
More often than not, patients forget they even have an upcoming appointment. Likewise, the chances of no-shows increase the more time there is between each appointment.
The article "NHS to reveal cost of missed appointments" mentions the fact that the cost of missed medical appointments is on the rise. To avoid the expenses associated with no-shows, it's important to remind your patients of their upcoming appointments.
You can do so through email and text; just make sure you send reminders with plenty of lead-time. If you don't receive a response and the appointment is less than 24 hours away, consider calling the patient to make sure they're still coming.
If your hospital has a patient portal on its website, you can require patients to check-in to their appointments a day or so before the appointment date. Pre-appointment check-ins help expedite the appointment process, which is a benefit for your patients and your hospital.
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You can also setup check-in alerts through the patient portal that notify your patients when they fail to check-in ahead of time.
These alerts, which can be sent by email or text via push notifications, also serve as reminders themselves.
Convenience is one of the main factors when it comes to your patients making it to their appointments.
By offering a flexible appointment schedule, you can meet the scheduling needs of each individual patient, which greatly reduces no-shows.
To accomplish this, make sure you offer appointments five days a week. Likewise, consider offering limited appointments on Saturdays as well. In addition, consider offering family appointments, which allow multiple family members to meet with their primary care physician during the same visit.
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Finally, try to be as flexible as possible with rescheduling cancelled and missed appointments. If a patient is willing to reschedule at a later date, give them any and all options that meet their criteria, especially if they notify you in advance about their cancellation.
If missed appointments plague your hospital, then try some of the pointers mentioned above.
About the author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including health care and hospital management.