Patient Scheduling Best Practices to Help You Attract and Retain
Providing the best possible patient care involves continually creating a positive experience in your optometry practice. Patient scheduling is a common source of friction for both parties—your staff and your patients.
To keep patients coming back, appointment scheduling must be friction-free. Otherwise, your practice is at risk of losing existing patients. Difficulty with patient scheduling means you’ll have trouble attracting and retaining new patients as well.
Paying close attention to patient scheduling will make or break your eye care business. When you do everything in your power to make patients happy, they will keep coming back. Follow these patient scheduling best practices to attract and retain patients.
Why is Appointment Scheduling Important?
According to Healthcare IT Today, the average no-show rate ranges from 10 to 30%, depending on the size of the practice and the specialty. Patient no-shows might cost a practice thousands—or, tens of thousands—annually in lost revenue. When you run the numbers, you’ll grasp why appointment scheduling is so important.
Finding effective delivery channels for appointment reminders is the first step. Postcards and phone calls are antiquated contact methods. In today’s digitally savvy world, text and emails are the preferred contact methods for appointment reminders and scheduling.
Appointment scheduling directly impacts your office workflow. Avoid having too many patients in the office at once and limit yourself to scheduling only one new patient per hour. Let’s take a look at these modern methods for improving patient scheduling.
How Can Patient Scheduling Be Improved?
Patient communication is critical throughout every stage of the relationship—it must be easy and efficient. It’s time to ditch phone call appointment reminders in favor of a more widely used form of communication: texting.
Allowing patients to schedule appointments via text saves time and improves response rates. Use texting to send out appointment reminders. Instruct patients to text back with “Yes” to confirm or “No” to let you know they won’t be able to make their appointment.
Send at least four types of reminder messages, which might look as follows:
- At Scheduling: Send a reminder to patients as soon as they schedule the appointment.
- Weekly: Send a reminder to patients with appointments less than a month but more than seven days before the appointment.
- Daily: Send a reminder to patients with appointments less than seven days but more than 24 hours before the appointment.
- Hourly: Send a reminder to patients with appointments less than 24 hours before the appointment.
Dealing with No-Show Patients Gracefully
Tired of dealing with no-show patients that result in lost chair time? There are several things you and your staff can do to decrease and even prevent no-show patients.
- Avoid scheduling another appointment with the no-show without asking for a deposit.
- Implement a 24-hour no-show/cancellation policy and inform patients at the time of scheduling.
- Double-book patients who have two or more no-shows.
- Avoid scheduling appointments for patients after three no-shows and see them on a walk-in and wait basis.
- Ask for a credit card to hold an appointment if the patient calls to reschedule after they no-show (and offering to put them on a waiting list). If you have a slow day, then you call them.
Medicaid Pro Tip: You can’t charge a Medicaid patient a no-show fee unless they sign your no-show policy form.
How to Effectively Schedule Appointments
Scheduling appointments effectively is accomplished by doing these two things: reducing scheduling restrictions and maintaining truth in scheduling, according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Make sure patients can schedule appointments without restrictions. Additionally, make sure they are seen at the time they scheduled their appointment. Patients should not wait around until 5:15 pm if their appointment is at 5:00 pm. Stay true to your word. The majority of patients appreciate the professional act of timeliness.
Always be open and honest with your patients. Let them know when you’re running behind schedule, or if you’re experiencing a high volume of patients at the time of their visit. They’ll appreciate the courtesy of an update about their status in your patient queue, versus being ignored in a waiting room.
Take Control and Find a Unique Solution
Your eye care practice doesn’t need to experience patient retention or growth challenges due to patient scheduling missteps. Take control and find an optometry software solution that works for your unique eye care business.
Optometry practice management and EHR software support patient scheduling and practice management effectiveness. Learn how MaximEyes gives you quick access to patient data and helps you ease appointment scheduling concerns, improve your office workflow, and increase revenue. Request a demo of MaximEyes today.