Most doctors’ office hours are on a so-called “stream” approach whereby patients are scheduled in equal intervals throughout each office session. Thus a doctor may be committed to see patients at 9:00, 9:10, 9:20, 9:30, and so on — regardless of the variations among those patients. Little wonder that the late arrivals and time-consuming patient problems compound themselves as the day progresses.
“Wave scheduling” takes a different appointment approach. It calls for scheduling a number of patients at one time and none in the succeeding time slots. The expectation is that visits will average out in time usage.
In wave scheduling, you bring in an hour’s worth of patients at the top of the hour, and see each in turn. Modified wave scheduling books smaller groups of patients at intervals throughout the hour. Both methods keep a ready supply of patients on hand while minimizing the physician’s downtime caused by no-shows and late arrivals.