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Independent practice scheduling tips to master “the art of scheduling”

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Scheduling in an independent practice requires a skillful combination of personal service and efficient technology. Patients’ primary concerns about going to see the doctor are typically about the amount of time they have to wait to see their provider, in the waiting room as well as in the exam room. Proper scheduling can increase the patient flow throughout the day, which makes patients and physicians happier.

Practice staff can play a huge part in the “art of scheduling.” Getting to know the patients as individuals can help office staff schedule their next appointment for a day and time that makes sense for both patient and practice. As noted in a recent Physicians Practice article, “by understanding the patient’s healthcare needs and schedule of availability, you’re better able to get them in the perfect spot on the healthcare staff’s schedule.”

Finding the perfect time for the patient requires asking questions and truly listening to the answers before, during, and after the visit. If the patient’s work schedule or family obligations conflict with the next available appointment time, then some flexibility and understanding needs to come into play. The patient’s health and well-being are the primary focus for an independent physician and scheduling issues should not be the cause of added stress!

Technology can be a significant factor in effective and efficient scheduling. Using electronic health records (EHRs) to track a patient’s medical and appointment history can help the independent physician’s scheduling staff understand what works best for that particular patient in regard to future appointments. Communication tools are also helpful to send reminders, for fewer missed appointments.

Elation’s Clinical First EHR enables independent physicians to quickly identify patients who aren’t meeting goals based on custom care management protocols, Meaningful Use objectives, or specific document tags, and easily schedule a follow-up appointment to address any potential gaps in care. Employing a combination of personal attention and EHR technology, the independent physician can manage patient appointments to produce higher quality outcomes for patient and practice.