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In a busy urology practice, there are numerous bottlenecks that threaten the ability to effectively manage the day.
Next, keep the phone lines open at lunch. This is easily accomplished by staggering lunches. Think about it: What other businesses do you know that shut down their phones for 1 or 2 hours in the middle of the day? It compromises customer service and puts you at risk for losing a potential new patient who makes his calls during his lunch break. Besides, closing down phones at lunchtime typically results in a pent-up demand with peak inbound calls as soon as you open up the lines in the afternoon. You can be sure this creates more chaos at the front desk with patient check-ins backing up, sabotaging your ability to start the afternoon on time.
On the surface, double booking a few patients seems to make sense. After all, if a patient has symptoms requiring a visit, she needs to be seen or it will only get worse. But there's a better solution than double booking-opening up access.
Take a look at your past appointments over a 2-week period, add up the number of patients worked into the schedule during that time, and determine the average. This will be the number of patients you can expect to be calling in for same-day appointments. Let's say the number is seven. That means you need to reserve seven appointments per day for call-ins. Most practices open up those appointments in the late afternoon the prior day and have no trouble filling them; history dictates the appropriate number. Of course, there may be variables during different times of the year, but the reserved appointments can be adjusted based on those historical scheduling patterns.
Beyond the added benefit of ensuring patients in need are seen promptly, opening access usually reduces the amount of missed appointments or patients showing up late. Some practices earn a reputation for not staying on time because they double book. Patients then figure that it doesn't really matter if they arrive late or skip the appointment. This wreaks havoc with managing the schedule and managing the day.