Purpose of Scheduling Systems • Smooth flow of patient traffic • Maximize resource and staff • Minimize patient waiting
How to Choose a System? • Type of practice • Time Management Preference of the Provider • Age of Patients • Accommodate • Emergencies • Walk-Ins • Cancellations • No-Shows • Late arrivals
Streaming • Allocate a standard unit of time, e.g. 15-minute blocks • Allocate 1 to 3 time-units depending on type of visit. For example: • New Patient: 2 units • Consultation: 3 units • Complete Physical Exam: 3 units • Minor Illness: 1 unit
Pros & Cons of Streaming • Simple to schedule and manage • Less efficient – staff idling (but staff like it to use the time catching up paperwork and etc.) • Work well with give-and-take, e.g. some procedure may take 20 instead of 15 minutes while some other may take just 10 minutes.
Double Booking • Used in practices with several staff members to work with patients. E.g. a dentist with multiple chairs • Multiple patients get a same appointment time • Can be very efficient, but requires careful monitoring
Clustering • Same types of patients or procedures scheduled at certain time block • E.g. • Physical exams in AM • Surgeries on Wednesdays • New mothers on Tuesdays at OBGYN • Increased staff efficiency
Wave • For a practice with several procedure rooms a large staff. • Multiple patients are scheduled at the top of the hour. The first group of patients go through the process • Walk-Ins and later arrivals go through in the second-half of the hour
Pros & Cons of Wave • Requires precision planning • Possible staff idling and staffing conflicts • Long wait for patients
Modified Wave • Alternate of Wave • Patients who require longer time served at the top of the hour • Followed by single appoints with less time requirement for each 10-20 minutes in the second half • E.g. a new patient are scheduled at the beginning of the hour followed by minor examination such as suture removal • Walk-in and late arrivals are accommodated
Open Hours • First-come, first-served • Patients are seen throughout the day, e.g. emergency room
Overbooking • Scheduling more patients than a physician can see within reasonable time • Avoid this except emergency
Resources • Contemporary Medical Office Procedures By Doris Humphrey • Medical Assisting By Lucille Keir, Barbara A. Wise, Connie Krebs • Great Tips For Patient Appointment Scheduling By Michael Reynard, M.D.