Should independent physicians extend their hours at their practices?

Given the looming physician shortage and the resulting increase in patient panels for each practice, many patients find themselves waiting for long periods of time to see the physician or unable to even get an appointment that fits their own schedule. Patients who are working may not be able to leave their jobs for a medical appointment or may prefer to not use sick leave for a routine exam. These patients would undoubtedly appreciate earlier or later practice hours.

Independent physicians in very small practices can be stretched very thin already and may not be receptive to the idea of further extending practice hours. A number of practices with multiple physicians have found innovative ways to extend hours without overworking the physicians. These practices have arranged for one physician to open the practice as early as 7am and another physician within the practice to work later hours, keeping the practice open until 5:30pm or later.

There are many advantages to extending the practice hours:

  • Sending a clear message of compassion and concern for providing quality service to all patients, even those who cannot miss work or school for an appointment.
  • Growing the patient base by offering extended hours that are attractive to a wider range of clients.
  • Retaining patients who might otherwise have to find another practice with hours that better suit their schedules.
  • Providing better care by seeing patients that are already comfortable with the physicians and the practice.

Elation Health’s mission is to help independent physicians by strengthening the relationship between patients and physicians, and enabling phenomenal care for everyone. Our electronic health record (EHR) system streamlines the process of entering and maintaining patient medical information, enabling providers to be more efficient. When independent physicians have these tools at their fingertips, they can focus more on their patients throughout the day.