Most practices experience times when they run behind. Some chronically so. Doctors blame the staff, staff blame the doctors, and the patients don’t care who’s at fault … they are just annoyed and disgruntled at having to wait when they arrived on time or early.
Let’s have a look at some of the causes and possible remedies for running behind schedule:
In most professions, there are emergencies where a patient in trouble MUST be fitted in somewhere, even when you have a full schedule. This is very normal for health care practices. Handling: Some practices causatively leave an opening in the schedule for morning and again in the afternoon. These usually get filled up. Others donate their lunch hours or stay after hours. The most important factor to consider (if at all possible) is not to disrupt the schedule of the other patients or clients who need to be seen on time and get back to work or to their next appointment, etc.
Lack of Systems and Structure:
Every practice is responsible for keeping an on-time patient schedule. Running inefficiently is going to cause patients or clients to be unwilling to refer friends and family to your practice. Having policy on how to book “Ideal Days” with blocks of time for different types of procedures is vital. There are also patients that you KNOW are going to be late, so planning for that in your schedule (and don’t tell them) is smart management. There are the patients you double book because you just KNOW they may not show up. Good policies on how to do that in your practice can save a lot of trouble.
Also, there are patients or clients who consistently arrive late who just need some effective communication about WHY it harms the service of the practice when they arrive late, and suddenly they begin arriving on time or early.
Many people are also more respectful of YOUR time if you run on time and respect THEIRS.
The patient or client is scheduled for a certain treatment or service and then they add to it by asking the doctor, “Oh by the way, can you also do _____ while I’m here.” Unfortunately, because of your big hearts and wanting to help and accommodate people and not wanting to make them unhappy by saying “no,” you go ahead and do that extra service. And then you back up the rest of your patients for the rest of the day, and they may just start thinking about that practice down the street and wondering if THEY run on time ….
These “extra” services should be properly scheduled, either in advance so you have the right amount of time allotted, or else tell the patient or client you are most certainly interested in addressing the _____ (whatever it is), and you would like them to schedule a time to come back so you can properly take care of it.
There are many ways in which you can take control of your schedule and work out how to run on time 90% of the time. These should be written into the policy manual and everyone sticks to them as a team. The team will be less irritated and frustrated when everyone is on the same page and following the guidelines.
And keep in mind that it is all for the benefit of the greater good for the greater number of your patients or clients!