How to Handle Patient Reluctance to Scheduling Surgeries
Did you know that surgeries account for almost 40% of a practice’s revenue? Despite this, the percentage of patients who come through the door and who actually require surgery is relatively small. That’s because surgery is often a last resort treatment. If an issue can be treated without surgery, that is preferable, and any good surgeon will give an honest assessment and recommendation. Once it is clear that surgery is the necessary treatment, patient reluctance is common, since patients often feel some apprehension. This blog post explores why this happens and what practical steps your practice can take to avoid losing these resistant patients.
What Causes Patient Reluctance to Schedule Surgery?
Being told that surgery is required can be a stressful situation for a patient. The prospect of being put under anesthesia or the fears of having to endure a difficult recovery period can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Patients understandably hesitate to schedule a surgery date. Some patients may want to seek a second opinion before agreeing to take the surgical route, and others might just need a few days to let the information sink in before scheduling a surgery date.
Keep the patient on your radar
You don’t want to pressure your patients to immediately schedule surgery if they have reservations. Staff needs to be supportive, reassure patients and address any fears and anxieties that come up. There are also some practical things you can do to make sure these patients stay on your radar while you are waiting for them to make a decision.
This is where it’s extremely useful to have a solid workflow in place to deal with patient reluctance to schedule surgery and ensure that an unwilling patient receives timely follow-up.
Dealing with difficult patients reluctant to schedule surgeries
Here are the 4 simple steps that we recommend:
- Categorize – within your EHR or surgical scheduling system, tag or categorize relevant patients who have been recommended surgery but have not yet scheduled.
- Reason – include a note with the reason for the delay in scheduling. Reasons may include things like: getting a second opinion, checking on insurance coverage and copay information, timing considerations, assessing different facility options, or any other reason given.
- Follow-up – set a specific date on which someone from the practice should follow up with the patient to see whether they are ready to schedule or if they have additional questions.
- Report – develop a reporting culture where staff can regularly run a report and see which patients have been categorized for follow-up and why so that they can reach out at the appropriate time.
Utilize an electronic system to track an unwilling patient requiring follow-up
If you use a platform like Surgimate Practice™, it is easy to store all of the relevant information in each patient’s record. You can include searchable details such as:
- reasons for reluctance
- type of insurance
- preference for hospital or ASC, and
From there, a simple search based on any of the chosen parameters and date range will provide a list of patients to call.
Benefits of overcoming patient reluctance to schedule surgical procedures
Even if you don’t use Surgimate Practice™, it’s important to make sure you keep track of all of this information in your EHR, spreadsheet or even in an old school notebook. Taking that extra time to attend to patient reluctance and reach out to these patients could be the difference between a surgery being scheduled or simply forgotten about. This could understandably impact both your practice’s bottom line and the quality of life of the patient.
Discover how using a surgery scheduling calendar can help you manage schedules and deal with patient resistance to scheduling surgical procedures.