Archive for December, 2008

Reduce Medical Appointment No-Shows Through Automated Scheduling

December 2nd, 2008

Your waiting room is full of patients reading magazines in anticipation of their name being called. Even though the waiting room is full, there are still no-shows. Every no-show slows down the rate at which you can see the patients that showed up because the medical receptionist holds out hope that the patient will eventually arrive. Despite your carefully worded and publicized cancellation policy, no-shows seem to be an inevitable fact of medical practice. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to control the problem.

The reasons that patients miss appointments are many. Studies done on the topic show that reasons range from lack of transportation, confusion about date and time, too sick to move, and simple memory lapse. Automated appointment scheduling cannot solve all of these reasons, but the right appointment reminder system can cut down on many of them.

Patients who forget their scheduled appointments are a source of poor medical service and revenue loss for clinics. Excessive patient no-shows directly impact nearly every level of medical care and office efficiency. Automated appointment scheduling is an easy solution to preventing medical no-shows and the wasted resources they create.

Patient Care

Continuity of care is greatly impacted with high no-show rates. When patients do not call to cancel an appointment or just forget to show up, many times a new appointment fails to be scheduled. Also, there tends to be a time lag in rescheduling that can negatively affect treatment plans. No-shows directly relate to longer wait times for the patients that did make their appointments. These patients get frustrated and possibly angry by the wait and this affects the medical interview and therefore treatment.

Automated telephone reminder services can reduce no-shows and cancellations. Self-service patient appointment scheduling will help encourage patients to reschedule their missed appointments. Adhering to treatment plans is vital to good health care. In a way, a good medical appointment scheduler will assist you in making and keeping your patients healthy.

Clinical Staffing

Productivity takes a hit when there are too many missed appointments. When your clinic appears to less busy than it should be there is an underestimation of your office staffing needs. When staff size is based on incorrect assumptions, patient care could suffer but your bottom line certainly will.

A patient appointment reminder service automatically contacts patients about when and where they need to be. Your staff is then freed up to handle any other clinical priorities. This takes away much of the chaos and confusion of botched appointment scheduling. With a steady flow of patients it is far easier to predict correct amount of staff required to operate your practice. As a bonus, the best of these web-based scheduling services will include multilingual capability, which can expand your practice.

Financials

As I mentioned, budget planning is very difficult with unanticipated no-shows. It’s almost impossible for you to accurately form a revenue projection with intermittent missed appointments. You might try to overbook in order to make up for the income that is lost from no-shows; however, if everyone then makes their appointments you are slammed and your patients are angry.

Quality 24/7 patient scheduling programs help control costs. This makes for more accurate revenue projections that keep your staff and office operations in the smooth, steady flow that enhances a success practice.

Save Medical Office Costs in a Receding Economy

December 2nd, 2008

While medicine is often touted as a recession-proof industry, many doctors are dismayed to watch their revenues flat-line even as patient workload increases. Using an online medical scheduling service can reduce the cost of many common office time wasters. In these uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever to get a firm grip on your clinic’s cost-to-profit ratios.

In order to get the most income out of your sterling patient services could be a simple matter of a 24/7 medical reception service. How is online medical scheduling or a type of Virtual Medical Office Receptionist going to earn you more revenue in a down economy? I have listed five of ways that you can get the most out of your clinic’s overhead costs by hiring a virtual receptionist as your new back up employee.

High Staff Turnover Protection – Even the most efficient medical office can have trouble with low staffing periods. A reliable remote receptionist service serves as a live answering service, 24/7 patient scheduling, appointment reminder, as well as a back-up receptionist. Not only will you save the hassle of trying to keep a full team during these potentially chaotic times, but you may find your clinic is able to spend less money overall because you are able to trim some personnel costs. This brings us to the next advantage.

Less Medical Staffing – Depending on the unique needs of your clinic and patients, an online medical scheduling service can cut your staffing needs considerably. A small practice may be able to run very efficiently with only a Virtual Medical Office Receptionist and one or two medical assistants. Well, and you, of course. The best virtual receptionist systems will also provide an after-hours answering service, appointment scheduling and reminder program.

Attract and Keep Web-Savvy Patients – More and more people prefer to use the internet for as much of their personal business as they can. For some, they prefer going online to dealing with anyone face to face. In their minds, the fewer people to deal with the better. A lot of that sentiment comes from being burnt by human error. Not only will you impress your existing patients with your modern, web-based appointment scheduling service, but the change has the potential to attract new patients, patients who are surfing the web for a clinic that is web-service friendly. Unconsciously, putative patients will equate you presence online with a dedication to always being on the cutting edge. It matters!

Cut Patient No-Show Rates – Patients that do not call to cancel an appointment wastes time and money. A patient no-show may be a lost patient if they simply do not reschedule. In this economy it is important to keep your practice a big as you can handle. An automated appointment reminder service cuts down on those patient no-shows. With an appointment scheduler, you will also free up staff to handle more important patient calls.

Improved Insurance Filings – Medical billing to insurance companies is one task that can pile up easily in a busy doctor’s office. It is not unusual to overlook reimbursement advantages when there is too much other work to be done. When the medical receptionist tasks are automated, you can afford to find and keep an excellent medical coder/biller. A good medical coder is worth their weight in gold. They can assure faster reimbursements and higher overall revenue for your practice. Plus your medical technicians will be able to devote more attention to your patients.

Phone reminder service helps chiropractors profit

December 1st, 2008


As is the case with most healthcare providers and other industries that rely on appointments to generate revenue, chiropractors suffer when patients missed scheduled appointment times. Each day, chiropractors have a limited amount of appointment times to derive revenue. The fixed costs used to drive the practice do not change if appointment times are missed. Therefore, practices that have a large amount of patient no-shows typically do not perform as well in revenue and profit production.

What is the solution? Data supports the fact that consistently delivered telephone reminder calls can dramatically improve the percentage of patients that show up for scheduled appointment times or call in advance to cancel.

A phone reminder is driven by a customized automated reminder software program that efficiently and accurately delivers calls to patients. The calls allow the patient to either confirm the call or cancel. The confirmation and reminder call help ensure patients do not forget to come for a visit. The option to cancel helps get patients who are unable to attend a scheduled time to cancel in advance, which enables the practice to reschedule the appointment time and collect revenue.

Another benefit of the phone reminder is that the message can included notes specific to the needs of a given patient. For instance, a first time visitor, or a follow up patient can receive direction on what to bring or what to do in preparation for the appointment.

Why would a chiropractor not have a receptionist complete the telephone reminder calls? The reality is some do. There are many advantages to using a virtual phone reminder, though. Receptionists are often overwhelmed with multi-tasking in-clinic patients, phone calls, office tasks, paperwork, and more. This makes them stressed and fatigued and reduces performance and can sometimes lead to poor service for patients. The process of delivering appointment reminder calls is more tedious and time consuming for the receptionist. However, an automated reminder program can be acquired with a moderate up front cost and requires little to no ongoing maintenance. The automated reminder solution also does not deal with stress and fatigue and it is more efficient and accurate than an overwhelmed live agent.

Patients appreciate the phone reminder service. Most patients do not intentionally skip appointment times or refuse to make cancellation calls. However, busy people are sometimes forgetful and may accidentally miss an appointment or forget to call. A small or medium sized chiropractic clinic cannot afford the financial drain caused by missed appointment times. Some opt to charging fees for missed appointments but this can be a deterrent to developing strong patient relationships. The moderate investment required to obtain a best in class phone reminder software solution is well worth it given the benefits to the customer, staff, and the business. Office morale is greatly improved if receptionists are freed up to manage the in-clinic patients, phone calls with issues, and important insurance claims paperwork. Good office morale is important for all stakeholders in the chiropractic clinic.

Dentists save time and money with online scheduler

December 1st, 2008


Like many other traditionally off-line business providers, dental practices are starting to look to the internet as a way to connect with and transact with patients. Consumers are more and more using the web to book, transact, and schedule events.

Thanks to advances in technology, healthcare providers now have online appointment scheduler to offer to prospective patients and existing clients. An online appointment scheduler enables busy people the opportunity to schedule appointments and avoid the busy receptionist or schedule the appointment at odd hours.

While convenience for the patient is probably the main benefit to the dentist for using a web-based appointment scheduling solution, there are others. Stressed and fatigued receptionists are common in healthcare, part of the reason there is high turnover in most dental practices. The online scheduler is a great opportunity to free up the receptionist to focus on personalized care and paperwork. The process of receiving calls and scheduling appointments is more time consuming and tedious for a receptionist than an automated appointment scheduler that the patient can use on their own.

An online scheduler also offers an efficient method for maintaining patient relationships. The appointment scheduling software can be customized to deliver appointment reminder emails or phone calls. Missed appointments are a revenue drain on any dental practice. Patients either forget an appointment time or neglect to call and cancel, which leads to a lost revenue opportunity. Reducing patient no-shows has major business effects. An automated appointment reminder helps the customer remember the appointment, or elect to confirm or cancel, leaving the clinic the option of scheduling another appointment during that cancelled time slot.

Cost-effectiveness is another important reason that many dental offices are turning to an automated appointment scheduling solution. The best online scheduler programs are usually available for a moderate up front cost and require little to no ongoing maintenance. Customers are happy to have an efficient way to self-service appointment scheduling, and employees are less burdened and better equipped to perform the other parts of their job effectively. Plus, the online scheduler should come with back up protection to collect and maintain customer data and optimum online security to protect consumers from identity theft and other online privacy concerns.

The decision to use an automated appointment scheduler is quickly become a no-brainer for many dental practices. Many currently view it as a customer service and business operations tool. However, as internet transactions continue to grow, an online scheduler is soon to be a necessity for the dental provider. According current trends, internet use for booking and scheduling of events is on the rise. Internet sales have grown about 20-25 percent in the last few years and are likely to continue at a similar rate. Internet sales as a percentage of the total business transactions have doubled from about three percent to about six percent since 2006. Consumers expect and desire the convenience of using the web to self-service as needed and to efficiently transact business with providers.

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