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Top 10 worst habits in surgical scheduling
Sari Nossbaum | July 5, 2016

As the experts in the industry, we’ve had the opportunity to visit hundreds of surgical practices across the nation. We’ve seen lots of *interesting* methods used for surgical scheduling. Sometimes a little too interesting. See below for our all-time worst habits. Hope we don’t catch you with any of these items at your practice…

  1. A typewriter.

    Yes, you read correctly. In 2015, we caught a scheduler using a typewriter to complete their insurance forms.


    Old typewriter machine - surgical scheduling


    Thankfully, now all of their paperwork is generated automatically, and the typewriter is to be sold off at a local antiquities auction.


  2. Carry-on luggage.

    You might be thinking… travel? What kind of travel are the schedulers doing that they need a carry-on? Well, it’s not the glamorous Grand Tour of Europe you’re envisioning. This group was physically carrying patient packets from one office location to another. No, really.


    briefcase - surgical scheduling
    This client was able to donate the luggage to a good cause because they can now access their patients’ records from any office location, at any time. Phew.


  3. Carbon paper forms.

    This is rampant. We’ve seen it in countless offices, including practices with state-of-the-art equipment and furnishings. But yet, schedulers still sit there hand writing data, while the patient is sitting across from them, waiting…


    carbon paper forms - surgical scheduling
    The offices where we spotted this 1970’s throwback are now automatically faxing the forms to the hospital without ever needing to print them. Not only are we saving them loads of time, but quite a few trees as well.


  4. The holy paper-book(s).

    Do you know how many times we have seen instances of schedulers re-writing the surgical case into three separate calendars for each surgeon? Too many times!
    paper calendar - surgical scheduling


    In the past years, many of our clients have had burning ceremonies, where the holy paper-books are enthusiastically cast into the flames. And there was no turning back.


  5. Intern to *run* papers in-between offices.

    We couldn’t even make this stuff up. One client hired an intern to physically run (!) surgery packets in-between the office and the surgery center that was a few miles away. That was all the intern did for 3 months straight.


    Businessman hurry running cartoon vector


    No doubt the intern is in great shape by now. But next next summer the practice can harness the intern’s energy to do more useful jobs around the office, because that surgery center now enjoys on-demand access to all the surgical information they need – electronically.


  6. Faxing papers from floor 1 to floor 2 of the office.

    These gals weren’t lazy, they were just, um, following orders. Throughout the day, these schedulers would fax precert forms to the girls downstairs in the insurance department. Seriously.


    Fax machine - surgical scheduling

    This practice has since dumped those fax machines, as information is now shared between departments electronically.


  7. WiteOut.

    Many of us remember this product from our good ol’ school days. But believe it or not, many schedulers are still using the stuff today!


    whiteout to fix mistakes in surgical scheduling
    WiteOut has now been removed from our client’s stationery stash for good, since they’re now able to re-generate paperwork with updates and changes in seconds. RIP WiteOut. You served us well.


  8. Writing the procedure up the side of the form because there’s not enough space.

    This one always makes us giggle. Just a little.


    surgical scheduling form


  9. Accordion folder.

    Need I say more?


    xylophone folder used for surgical scheduling


  10. Writing the same data onto forms over and over and over again.

    Patient name, DOB, hospital name….. It’s frightening to see how common this is among practices. Carpal tunnel release here we come! Luckily, some of these schedulers work with orthopedic surgeons and have *an in* with getting onto the schedule. What’s the code for that again? We may need to create a special ICD-10 code for this: Completely unnecessary overuse of the wrist causing excess pressure and inflammation on the median nerve…. And that’s not the only nerve it’s pressuring either!


    Hand with wrist support isolated on white


Have any more bad habits to add to this list? Write to us at and share your worst surgical scheduling stories. We can all laugh together.

Surgimate staff and others recommend
About the author: Sari Nossbaum is the Director of Marketing at Surgimate. When she’s not writing insightful articles about surgical management, she can usually be found on her yoga mat or on her road bike, somewhere...
Published on July 5, 2016. All rights reserved by the author.
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