A busy physician’s office is a sign of a successful practice. However, a busy office that cannot handle the patient load can be very offsetting for the patient. Many patients complain that they have to wait several months for an appointment. Once they do make it to the office, they have to cancel work and other plans for the day because the appointments are always behind schedule. These are the things that can push a patient to search for another doctor. Here are some tips that can help you to create a more efficient practice.
Use a 24-Hour Call Messaging Service
Emergencies can happen at any time and it is important for a patient to feel like they have access to their doctor at any time. Pregnant women, new mothers, and others with chronic illnesses want to feel like they can communicate with their doctor, when needed. They may have issues that may not warrant a trip to the emergency room, but may need immediate attention from a qualified medical professional. Using a call center outsourcing service can be the answer to your needs. A call center outsourcing service can take messages for you after hours. It can also forward messages to your cell phone for those who are seeking immediate advice. This will help your in-office clerical staff to manage phone inquiries and return phone calls in a timely manner. In return, this will cause your patients to feel like their concerns are important to your office.
Implement a late and no-show policy
An inefficient office is not always a direct reflection of the staff’s inability to manage the patient load. Patients, themselves, are often to blame for long hours sitting in the waiting room. Patients often make appointments and cancel at the last minute, or do not bother to cancel at all. Others will show up 5 to 30 minutes late and still expect to be seen as soon as they walk in the door. While some patients may have extenuating circumstances, there are many others that do not respect the time of those that work in the physician’s office and the other patients who need to be seen. Try implementing a late and no-show policy that requires patients to pay $25 to $50 if they fail to cancel or change an appointment date within 24 hours of their original appointment. If a patient shows up later than 10 to 15 minutes past their appointment (or whatever works for your office), require that they make a new appointment in addition to paying the late fee. Doing so will put the onus on the patient to be responsible for their own time.
Take less appointments or increase your staff
It may sound obvious, but if your office continues to take on new patients it cannot handle without any additions in staff or space, the office will soon turn into a zoo. Seriously analyze what you are presently able to handle given the resources you have available. If you are able to afford new clerical or patient care staff, then do so. Making an investment in adding on to your staff can increase patient happiness in the long run.
Tim Raines is doctor who enjoys blogging about office efficiency, health tips, and new health related technology.