Patient satisfaction plays an important role in the healthcare industry today, particularly as it’s increasingly being taken into account with regard to reimbursement. One factor that can have a large influence on a patient’s level of satisfaction with their primary care practice is ease of scheduling. With this in mind, it’s important for practices to examine how they approach patient scheduling and look for ways to make it as seamless as possible.
TRADITIONAL METHODS OF SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS
Traditionally, when a patient needs to see their provider they will call the practice during regular business hours. That call will be answered by a member of the front desk staff who will ask the patient about the condition for which they need to be seen and determine the urgency of the appointment. From there, the staff member will look over the provider’s schedule and suggest the first available appointment time that is appropriate for the patient’s condition. Typically that appointment will fall sometime within the normal work week of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., requiring the patient to request time off work to attend the appointment. Unfortunately, this can sometimes set up a scenario in which the patient ultimately ends up missing the appointment, sometimes without prior notice.
DIFFICULTY OF UNFILLED APPOINTMENTS
When patients miss appointments it creates issues for both the practice and other patients. Obviously, a missed appointment equals lost revenue for the practice. It’s estimated that no-show appointments cost an average of $200 per empty time slot. It only takes some very basic math to realize that, at that rate, one missed appointment per day adds up to $1,000 in lost revenue each week. This equals out to approximately $4,000 in lost revenue per month and over $50,000 in lost revenue each year. That’s a high cost, but it gets even higher when you realize that one missed appointment per day is a rather low estimate.
In addition to the lost revenue for the practice, empty appointments also represent lost opportunities for patients who need to be seen. For each patient who couldn’t make their appointment, there’s usually at least one who would have loved to fill that time slot to address an issue they’re having. Unfortunately, practices are often not set up to quickly communicate available appointments to patients, meaning those opportunities remain lost.
It’s estimated that no-show appointments cost an average of $200 per empty time slot. It only takes some very basic math to realize that, at that rate, one missed appointment per day adds up to $1,000 in lost revenue each week. This equals out to approximately $4,000 in lost revenue per month and over $50,000 in lost revenue each year.
HOW BEST TO COMMUNICATE WITH PATIENTS TO PREVENT UNFILLED APPOINTMENTS
One of the best ways to alleviate unfilled appointments is to take out the middle man and allow your patients to schedule appointments online. This way, patients can see the provider’s full schedule and select the appointment that actually works best for them, rather than accepting whatever is offered by a staff member. This should lessen the likelihood that the patient will ultimately have to miss the appointment. And, as an added bonus, aside from streamlining the scheduling process for your patients, you will also be saving your staff time on the phone scheduling appointments, allowing them to focus their attention on more pressing tasks.
Another good way to lessen the number of unfilled appointments your practice has is to manage your wait list successfully. The reality is that even with a convenient and flexible scheduling process, things will still come up and the occasional cancellation will still happen. Streamline this process by using technology to digitally manage your wait list, automatically reaching out to the next patient in line when appointments open up, so that your staff doesn’t have to worry about keeping the schedule full.
Patient scheduling can have a big effect on how your patients feel about your practice, but thankfully technology can help you to make sure that the process is smooth and efficient for them. Everseat, offered through Henry Schein Solutions Hub, is an ideal product to make appointment scheduling a definite plus in your practice. Everseat is a cloud-based software platform that drives schedule density by enhancing referral management, digitally managing your waitlist, and allowing for online booking. With everseat, your schedule availability is transparent for your patients to see. Patients who are waiting for an appointment are digitally notified when one becomes available. When openings are clearly going to be unfilled, everseat pulls patients forward into that opening, avoiding a revenue gap and making for satisfied patients when their wait is reduced.
Are you ready to learn more about how everseat can increase patient satisfaction in your practice?
Visit henryscheinsolutionshub.com or call 833-433-2482 for more information.