Knowing what appointments you have upcoming at a glance not only allows you to plan better but also make informed decisions. This is very important for a clinic as this will allow them to manage their patients efficiently, ensure waiting times are minimal, resources are utilized optimally, Doctor’s schedule has minimal gaps and clinic generates maximum revenue. But for all of this to happen the front desk needs some extra help, besides the usual information of time of the appointment and against which staff the appointment is booked for. Let us see what this extra information is that will supercharge your clinic
We already know that without a proper calendar/scheduler in place to manage appointments, no clinic can operate efficiently. But in today’s world, just booking an appointment may not be enough, as appointments can also be booked through various sources. What I mean is it is no longer necessary to visit the clinic or call one to book an appointment. Today your appointments can be booked online by the Patient directly on your website, or via a mobile app, or even by a upstart medical concierge service. So an ideal practice management software should have the ability to show the front desk how the appointment was booked. If they have this information then they know what exactly needs to be done. For example, if your front desk can see that the appointments was booked via your online booking system, i.e. no personal touch point has taken place in the booking process, they could actually call up these specific patients to remind them of their appointment, to reduce the chances of a No Show. Without this information it is like finding a needle in the haystack, either call up each and every patient who has an appointment tomorrow, or the effort is too enormous and you end up calling no one. The Source will also tell you which channel your appointments are coming in from, helping you focus your efforts only where required. It will also help you sensitize your staff better to handle such a source and direct marketing budget towards it.
2. New Patients
We have already identified how knowing the source of the appointment can be helpful for the front desk. What more can assist them is if the system identifies is the appointment is for a new patient or an existing patient. This is generally denoted by the letter “N” against the appointment. In such appointments, there are a few additional tasks involved and knowing them beforehand can help your staff manage them better. Because for a new patient, you would have to help the first register themselves with the clinic and you may also have consent forms that need to be signed off and at times you may have a triage with a nurse or even a consultation with a counseller before the patient actually sees the doctor. Hence, if your front desk is aware of how many new patients are expected and who they are, then they are already prepared for the time when the patient checks in and even the patient would be happy to know that the clinic is very well organized and can have all her questions answered in a timely manner.
3. “P” for Packages
What most dermatology clinics do to attract patients is run promotions from time to time. And as part of the promotion, they offer various packaged services. Most practice management software do not have the option to bundle such packages and the inability to do so, results in manually tracking of such transactions by the front desk. And with this comes a major problem, how do you keep a track of what has been completed as part of the package? An ideal system should have this ability to track packages sold to patients. Furthermore they should also have the ability to identify which appointments today are for packaged service items. This way the front desk personnel knows that the patient is visiting to consume a service that is part of a package. Also, the system should have the ability to show an overview of the package as well. This is important because it allows the clinic to not only keep a track of how many sitting are completed or pending as part of the packaged deal but if the patient is in for the last appointment then the front desk has every opportunity to upsell as well.
The other important kind of appointment is the one where a patient is revisiting the clinic for a follow-up. Such appointments are a direct result of the doctor advising the patient for followup after a period of time. The doctors themselves usually fix the date and time for the visit and they can be marked by the letter “R” for Recall. Such a marker is not only important for the front desk but also for the doctor themselves. They can continue the consultation from where it was last concluded, as the doctor is aware of what exactly happened during the last conversation and what is it that he had called the Patient in for again. This is also very helpful in the case of Preventive Healthcare Reminders.
An example can be of a diabetic patient being called in for an annual foot checkup, that the patient is diabetic, and he has come for a annual foot checkup, for which he has been sent multiple appointment sms reminders – as 1 year is a long time and no patient will remember this so late down the time – all of this would happen hands free, without anyone in the clinic having to remember to do so, or recollect wy the Patient is in today. Because all of this information will be right in front of you on the appointment screen. This also leaves a good impression on the patient and builds confidence in him/her that the clinic actually cares for his well-being