Are back-to-back appointments helping or hurting your healthcare clinic?

By Jamie Frew on Jun 16, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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Understanding the appointment system in healthcare

Managing appointments is one of the most time-consuming but critical aspects of operating a healthcare business. Understanding how appointment scheduling works and making the process as efficient as possible for patients and practitioners will help optimize your business. The recent growth in the telehealth industry has coincided with the development of healthcare software with features that manage clinical documentation, medical billing, online payments, and of course, appointment scheduling. Managing appointments is just as crucial for the patient as it is for the practice, with research suggesting that 77% of patients think that having the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is essential. Clinic appointment systems reduce the need for administrative staff and increase the number of clients seen at your practice. The online appointment scheduling market is expected to increase to 15% by 2024, with its total market value reaching $360 million. 

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Are back-to-back appointments driving up profits for your business?

Although having a full schedule indicates that the maximum number of patients are being seen and thus your profits will be rising, there are a few concerns you need to be wary of when scheduling back-to-back appointments. Firstly, it is always a possibility that the schedule won’t run perfectly; a patient may be running a few minutes late, an earlier appointment may have run overtime, or someone may require an emergency appointment. Regardless of how efficiently the schedule has operated in the past, these events will inevitably occur, and you need to be ready for them. Back-to-back appointments should always have at least a 10-minute buffer to allow for unexpected and unplanned circumstances. If the schedule runs on time, these gaps can be used to write notes, reply emails, or do other administrative tasks. Filling up a program is ultimately the goal of practice, as more patients mean more profits. However, your practice can utilize different strategies and methods to ensure that your scheduling prioritizes both patient and practitioner satisfaction. 

Using appointment scheduling software for the smooth operation of your healthcare business

Optimizing appointment scheduling should be a key priority for all healthcare businesses. An effective appointment system will guarantee efficiency, patient satisfaction, and profits. Different online systems have been developed specifically designed to assist healthcare businesses in optimizing their appointment scheduling. Carepatron is a HIPAA-compliant platform that integrates various features, including appointment scheduling, clinical documentation storage, and medical billing, helping healthcare businesses optimize their administrative tasks. Features of an ideal appointment scheduling software should include: 

  1. A centralized calendar and workflow that is accessible by all team members. The calendar can be synced with every worker’s schedule to maintain cohesiveness and awareness of each team member’s current workload and eliminate the possibility of double bookings.
  2. Automated confirmation messages that are sent to clients before their appointments. These reminders significantly reduce the number of no-shows and last-minute canceled bookings. 
  3. A patient portal that displays appointment and payment information. Patients can log onto an easy-to-navigate portal where they can book, reschedule or cancel upcoming appointments. Patients can also view their invoices and make payments online. This eliminates the likelihood of any awkward phone calls and increases timely payments!
  4. Integration with EHR, clinical documentation, video conferencing tools, and medical billing allows practitioners to deliver their services to a wide range of patients seamlessly. 
Appointment scheduling software feedback

Benefits of using a medical appointment scheduler

Online appointment scheduling software has significant advantages for your practice regarding efficiency, reduced no-shows, and general patient satisfaction. 

  1. Client Flexibility: Using an online clinic appointment system gives clients increased flexibility when booking appointments. The system is live 24/7, so clients don’t have to wait for the clinic’s opening hours to make a booking. Clients have busy lives, so allowing them to make an appointment after hours will increase the number of clients your practice attracts. 
  2. New Clients and Increased Revenue: An efficient appointment scheduling system will convert new clients to your practice, as the hassle of booking through an administrative staff member is eliminated. New clients will provide your practice with increased revenue, and from here, you can develop patient-practitioner solid relationships.
  3. Efficiency: Effectively managing appointment scheduling is a time-consuming process that can often be overwhelming. The administrative staff must book appointments according to numerous schedules, and mistakes like double bookings or empty slots can occur. This is even more complicated when patients cancel their bookings last minute or don’t show up to appointments. An online system manages these issues for your practice; all you must do is upload your availability, and the software will do the rest. Your appointments can be customized to appropriately suit your business needs and continuously improve your practice’s efficiency.
  4. Strengthen Client Relationships: Online appointment scheduling is often integrated with other features about patient information. By utilizing a platform that contains patient data, including medical history and clinical notes, practitioners can approach their appointments with a thorough understanding of their patients. These systems facilitate stronger patient-practitioner relationships and show clients that the business cares about them and their needs.
  5. Employee Productivity: Data analytics are often a part of appointment scheduling systems. Businesses can be informed of the times when they are least productive and can alter their scheduling to increase productivity. Practitioners can save time often spent scheduling and rescheduling appointments and will be better prepared for their upcoming sessions. 

Using automated appointment reminders to reduce no-shows

One of the most significant advantages of using an online platform for healthcare scheduling is the reduction of patients not showing up to appointments. No-shows are an inevitable occurrence that impacts all practices and are frustrating for practitioners to deal with. They waste valuable time and affect the entire scheduling of a day. Some appointment-scheduling platforms, including Carepatron, have an automatic reminder feature that has been proven to reduce the number of no-shows significantly. Automated reminders are sent out to patients before their upcoming appointments, eliminating any possibility of forgetting about the booking. This process reduces no-shows by 95%, ensuring that clients are prepared and on time for their appointments. 

Final thoughts

Using online appointment scheduling software will have significant advantages for your healthcare practice. The time you spend on administration, including on phone calls with clients, scheduling and rescheduling appointments, and trying to reallocate time after a no-show, can be reduced significantly. Online appointment scheduling allows greater flexibility for both patients and practitioners to select their appointment times depending on their schedules. Platforms like Carepatron have developed features that increase efficiency, productivity, and patient satisfaction, ensuring that practitioners' valuable time is spent doing what they do best; delivering quality care to clients. 

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