Coordinating a surgery date often necessitates a mastery of logistical planning. Among the countless items schedulers need to arrange, they have to find a date and time that is suitable for all parties involved – including the patient, surgeon, and the hospital or ASC. All too often, after the patient leaves the office, an endless game of phone-tag ensues. Securing the patient’s slot on the schedule can drag on endlessly, or fall through the cracks entirely. This is why improving patient scheduling for surgeries is a prime area of concern for schedulers.
Patients who Don’t Schedule Surgery are Missed Revenue Opportunities
Like any other business, surgical practices are competing with other practices in their vicinity. The longer it takes the schedulers to contact the patient to book their surgery, the more likely the patient is to go elsewhere. And we all know that every procedure added to the surgeon’s lineup is additional revenue for the practice. The schedulers need to be mindful of this, and be proactive in figuring out how to schedule patients effectively for surgeries.
Schedule a surgery date before the patient leaves the office
Which way is the best to assist with scheduling a patient for surgery? The most ideal scenario is to secure a date right after the surgeon has recommended surgery – before the patient leaves the office.
However, as you know all too well, patients often can’t commit to a surgery date right then and there – and understandably so.
Common decision making factors include;
- weighing up the pros and cons
- waiting for their insurance
- verifying their family members will be available to assist them post-surgery
- timing the surgery around work commitments or their child’s graduation, or for
- whatever myriad of reasons.
Patient scheduling methods
Having said that, you are still far better off sitting down with the patient while they’re still in the office and gauging a tentative surgery date. Just pencil something in the calendar! This way, at least you have a point of reference and can continue coordinating the other details of the surgery.
Sure, the date may change because of the patient’s insurance plan or additional clearances they need to obtain. But, when dealing with patient scheduling for surgeries, if the patient leaves the office with a date in hand, they will feel more of a commitment. Then they will be more likely to respond to your follow-up. This will help with improving patient scheduling for surgical procedures.
Tips on improving patient scheduling
What are the best practices for patient scheduling for surgical procedures?
Here are a few ways to encourage patients to schedule surgeries before they leave the office, improving patient scheduling for your practice:
- Create a more intimate environment in your back-office: A patient may not feel comfortable discussing their surgery details and personal health issues while sitting out in the open, with other patients and schedulers bustling about. If your office space allows for it, provide your schedulers with a more intimate and private setup. This helps manage patient scheduling, because patients are more likely to feel comfortable sitting with schedulers in a private setting and setting a surgery date – even if it’s tentative.
- Ensure you have an up-to-date digital surgery calendar: If the patient is willing to sit down and look at potential dates, the last thing you want to do is pull out a paper calendar that has not been updated by other staff members and may be missing critical information. So which scheduling system best accommodates the patient?
Providing your patients with an accurate calendar and open slots will give them confidence that the date(s) you are offering is indeed valid. Using a digital calendar that can be shared and accessed by multiple staff simultaneously is essential. Whether it be a Google or Outlook Calendar, set it up so that color-coding is used to indicate each surgeon and implement filters so block time and open slots can be easily identified. The Surgimate Surgery Scheduling Calendar is the ultimate option when it comes to scheduling. In addition to providing all of the above listed features, it also enables you to filter by hospital or coordinator, and sync all the surgical information (codes, insurance type etc). It’s also HIPAA compliant, and the information can easily be shared with the surgeon’s cellphone via SurgiApp.
- Offer reassurance and guidance: Dealing with patient scheduling for surgery can be daunting and overwhelming for many patients. There are often many unknowns and patients may require a bit of ‘hand-holding’ and extra care. If the patient has taken that first step and agreed to a surgery date, then it’s your job to provide them with all the pertinent information so they feel secure and confident they are in good hands. Giving them a customized patient letter and packet with step-by-step instructions leading up to their surgery date, and any other details that will help them through the process, will go a long way. They need to leave your office with a concrete plan of action.
How to schedule patients effectively for surgical procedures
The more you do to encourage patients to set a surgery date before leaving the office, the easier it will be to stop the endless phone tag cycle. Improving patient scheduling for surgeries will also prevent patients from falling through the cracks and ensure the surgeons’ block time is full. This will thereby increase revenue for the practice.
Going the extra mile to schedule patients’ surgeries in a timely and uncomplicated fashion will undoubtedly increase their confidence about their surgery, and they will leave the office knowing they are in good hands.
Surgimate’s leading platform helps surgical practices searching for solutions for how to schedule patients efficiently. Discover how the status tracker and other key features can help with improving patient scheduling at your practice.