March 28, 2014
The Role Of Your Scheduling Department In The Growth Of Your Medical Practice
Your scheduling department is often the first interaction between your staff and a prospective patient. It my last blog, I discussed 5 Tips On Setting Up A Successful Medical Practice Scheduling Department because there’s value in putting effort into your scheduling department. They are in a position to help you grow your medical practice by engaging with prospective patients and selling them on your doctors and services. Here are some opportunities where you can grow your practice through that first point of contact.
Convenient and Easy Scheduling
- Offering multiple ways for a new patient to make that first appointment is an effective way for your scheduling department to increase your patient base. I mentioned in a previous blog that your website visitors like to have options when it comes to customer service and support. Rich features like live chat, an online appointment request form and a 24-hour appointment scheduling line will allow your patients to request an appointment while it is fresh in their minds. The problem with only allowing scheduling during business hours is that your normal hours are often also your patients’ working hours. This means that your treatment offices may be closed for the day long before a prospective patient has the time or opportunity to contact you for an appointment. If they have the ability to make the appointment request at anytime, you will stop missing out on those patients who otherwise may not be able to reach you.
- Keep your pre-recorded telephone menu simple. Patients should be able to easily navigate to the correct member of your staff. Place the priority on appointment scheduling, but show that the rest of your staff is accessible for their ongoing needs as a patient.
- What your callers hear while they’re on hold doesn’t have to be Muzak. This is the perfect opportunity to promote your practice by incorporating information about your services into the hold recording. Keep it updated with the latest information and you’ll be providing new details for existing patients and prospective patients alike.
Interacting With Patients Over the Phone
- Your scheduling staff has the opportunity to really showcase your practice while on the phone with patients. It is critical that they are trained on your services, and updated on new offers and events. Prospective patients are taking the time to educate themselves, and will have questions about your doctors and services. When your scheduling staff is able to answer those questions, they’ll be in a better position to get that first appointment.
- Insurance benefits can be confusing for patients. While your practice may not participate with the in-network benefits for everyone who calls your practice, taking the time to explain out of network benefits can help you gain patients who value your doctors and services but might have looked elsewhere if they thought paying 100% of the cost was the only option.
- If your first available appointment is 2 – 3 weeks out, prospective patients are likely to continue looking elsewhere for a quicker appointment time. Do not underestimate the importance of appointment availability when it comes to growing your medical practice. If you’re fully booked, consider adding additional medical staff to your practice to accommodate your patients. Additionally, offering extended and weekend hours will entice busy professionals who look for flexibility in scheduling when choosing a doctor.
Preventing Missed Appointments
- It is absolutely worth the time and effort to prevent missed appointments from happening. It used to be that the only way to remind a patient of an appointment was with a written appointment card or a phone call. As your medical practice grows, consider automating your appointment reminders. Points Group’s Automated Appointment Notification Tool has made this process much easier by allowing medical practices to send out automated appointment reminders via text, email, and phone calls. Patients can respond to these reminders, which are then captured by the tool. This allows for better reporting, less time spent following up, and more time spent converting callers into appointments.
- Rescheduling missed appointments is essential to expanding your patient load. If you do the math, 2 missed appointments a day can result in 40 or more missed appointments a month. It really adds up! By making it a priority for your scheduling staff to reschedule these missed appointments, you won’t lose out on the potential revenue that can be earned from a loyal patient. The goal should always be to make contact until the appointment is rescheduled or you receive confirmation that treatment is no longer needed.
At Points Group, we offer services and products to help you grow your medical practice. For more information on our customized approach, contact us today!