- Liza Shishido
New Patient Scheduling Software: Valuable features that help save time in your front office
In every therapy practice, managing patient care efficiently is always a challenge.
Front office administrators spend several hours a week on patient appointment scheduling while completing other important tasks. Accenture estimates that scheduling an appointment takes an average of 8.1 minutes. Confirming insurance eligibility can take another 8 minutes. When you schedule 10 patients per day, you’re spending up to 3 hours on the phone!
However, making the switch to modern patient scheduling software could be a time-saving key. You can focus more on revenue generating tasks like managing patient communications and the revenue cycle.
Keep an eye out for these features when selecting your new modern patient scheduling software:
Intuitive appointment-setting calendar and interface
Visibility is the cornerstone of efficient patient scheduling. Modern patient management software should provide improved visibility into your clinic’s schedule. You should be able to view provider availability based on location, treatment rooms, and appointment type.
Modern patient scheduling software should be proactive in suggesting appointment times for you. For example, after choosing a location and appointment type, your software should suggest providers/therapists that match availability.
Ability to track multiple locations, therapists, and appointment types all at once
Patient appointment scheduling can be a difficult task in general. When a therapist floats between locations or limits appointment types to certain times, scheduling becomes more complicated.
Your scheduling software should be able to account for multiple office locations, treatment rooms, therapists, and different appointment types. If not, your practice is likely to encounter problems as you scale the number of locations or therapists.
PatientStudio’s patient management software is intuitive and provides all-in-one features. You can fill your clinic schedule based on appointment type, location, and provider, all on the same platform you use for patient records and insurance claims.
Prevention of schedule conflicts
Many clinics have part-time therapists, multiple locations and therapists that are discipline specific (OT, PT, SLP, etc.). This can cause conflicts on the calendar for therapist availability on certain days or times. Historically, this has been “tribal knowledge” that the front desk needs to keep top of mind. Scheduling software should visually display when a conflict is about to occur.
In a similar example, would you prefer to have all new evaluations in the morning and all therapy sessions in the afternoon? Again, another rule the scheduling coordinator would need to keep top of mind.
Rather than keeping it “all in your head,” modern scheduling software should use this conditional logic to help scheduling coordinators from making mistakes. By combining these “scheduling rules” into your scheduling software, you can improve patient flow and provider availability.
Recurring appointment scheduling capabilities
With the growing demand for recurring appointments, your clinic must find a way to fill these types of time slots efficiently. Many therapy practices manually schedule their patients in the same time slot for several weeks in a row. You can accommodate your clients’ recurring appointments more easily with modern patient scheduling software.
Appointments can be added as ”recurring” so you can manage patient flow more efficiently. You can add gaps between appointments to discuss patient progress or have other general check-ins between administrative staff and therapists.
Automatic appointment reminders
As front office staff, much of your job involves calling patients by phone for appointment reminders. Integrated and automatic reminders can reduce patient no-shows and late appointments while saving you time.
These automatic reminders go out via email and text. Rather than just a single form of reminder, It is critical to have a multi-channel approach. SMS messages are proven to be extremely effective for reminders with an open rate of 98% versus email open rates of 20%. Improvement in communication prevents missed appointments and allows you to fill any openings.
By using their preferred contact method, you have more time to complete other administrative tasks.
Integration with patient forms and clinical notes
A full clinic schedule can be overwhelming for you as you manage patient paperwork and the data entry from patient intake. One late or ill-prepared patient can cause issues and delays in the waiting room. Paper processes are the root cause of many issues in any therapy practice.
To address these issues, a modern patient management and scheduling software should integrate with online or digital patient forms. If a patient has submitted new patient paperwork from home, the office can minimize waiting room times and scheduling delays.
Online patient management software streamlines patient flow by providing digital forms that patients can complete at home or on a personal device. For example, PatientStudio will automatically send a digital welcome packet via email once an appointment is scheduled. Included in this email, patients will be directed to complete registration questions using an internet browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.). Patients can securely submit demographic information, insurance cards, medical history, HIPAA consent, and more using their mobile device.
With 95% of patients submitting intake forms prior to their appointment, this creates a more enjoyable experience for both patients and staff.
Option for online scheduling
A consumer survey conducted by Accenture identified convenience as a major factor for clients when they pick their healthcare providers. In fact, 68% of participants responded that they would be “more likely” to choose a provider that offers the ability to book, cancel, or change an appointment online.
The ability for your patients to self-schedule is just one of the ways that a new online patient management system can help you save time. Patient scheduling takes an average of eight minutes when you coordinate availability over the phone. By contrast, online self-scheduling takes your patients under a minute.
Clinics and practices have been slow to adopt online scheduling due to the lack of integration with their practice calendar. Modern scheduling solutions, such as PatientStudio, have eliminated this connectivity issue by maintaining a real-time sync between online scheduling and your EHR calendar. Both therapists and office staff can still take control of your clinic’s schedule by displaying availability based on appointment type, location, and limited hours. PatientStudio’s calendar and scheduling software is customizable, so your clinic can manage the amount of availability that your patients can see when they self-schedule their appointments.
As front office staff, you must find a way to multitask scheduling and other important duties. A full clinic schedule can make your job stressful, but the shift toward online patient management will streamline your administrative tasks. Prioritize the above features when evaluating the switch to a modern patient scheduling software.