PENCIL IN PRODUCTIVITY
BY DONNA SUTER, Apison, Tenn.
Have you mastered the art of efficient patient
flow? Not only is inefficient scheduling a nuisance for everyone, but it can
significantly contribute to a practice's success or failure.
As a technician, you certainly can't change
scheduling policy without consulting your practitioner, but you can work as a
team to design a strategy that maximizes patient visits without sacrificing
quality or efficiency. For example:
- Be realistic about how many patients the
doctor can see in 1 day. Depending on his chief complaint, a patient may
need 5 minutes for a contact lens checkup or up to 40 minutes for
comprehensive testing and refraction.
- Determine how much time each patient will need
with the doctor by asking him for specific information, such as chief
complaint and age, when he calls to make an appointment. Older patients, who
are more likely to have problems, typically need more time with the doctor
than younger patients with healthy eyes.
- Schedule different types of visits for
different times of day. Early morning is a good time to schedule patients
for a medical or contact lens progress check. The doctor can see several of
these patients in quick succession while comprehensive patients are filling
out paperwork and having preliminary tests.
- Set your scheduling software template for
5-minute intervals. You'll have more flexibility to customize appointment
- Be sure to schedule enough core
revenue-generating visits in 1 day to cover operating expenses. Calculate
how many comprehensive or contact lens patients the doctor needs to see each
day to meet financial goals, and then fill in remaining spots with other
The key to successful patient flow isn't speed.
Rather, proactive scheduling lets you offer your patients efficient,
complaint-free and consistent quality of care without placing undue stress on
office personnel or resources.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: May 2004