Trying to meet patient and referrer demands without sacrificing physician efficiency leads many doctors to adopt different appointment styles (such as wave scheduling). While you can sometimes squeeze more patients into each clinical session, bringing in waves of patients at the same time still can create long wait times for some of them. And it doesn’t offer much help for patients who want an appointment right away.
So how can you improve patient access for urgent appointments without creating potential gaps in the doctor’s workday?
Some group practices share responsibility for urgent appointments by taking turns as “doctor of the day.” But that creates two problems: First, patients would far rather see their own doctor, and second, the actual visits become inefficient as the physician tries to learn about the patient’s history.
To improve patients’ chances of seeing their own doctor on a same-day (within 24 hours) basis, you may want to retool your schedule for open access. Leaving open appointment slots for urgent cases isn’t new, but each practice must find an effective way to open up the right number of slots—while minimizing the risk of wasted time.