Coordinating a surgery date often necessitates mastery of logistical planning to provide great patient care. Among the countless items surgery coordinators need to arrange, they must find a date and time 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 coordinators.
Improving Patient Scheduling For Surgery
Patients Who Don’t Schedule Surgery Are Missed Revenue Opportunities
Like any other business, surgical practices compete with other practices in the vicinity. The longer it takes the coordinators to contact the patient to book their surgery, the more likely the patient is to go elsewhere.
We all know that every procedure added to the surgeon’s lineup is additional revenue for the practice. Your surgical coordinators need to be mindful of this and proactively 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 ideal scenario is to secure a date right after the surgeon has recommended surgery – before the patient leaves the office.
However, as you know, 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 around work commitments
- Timing around their kid’s schedule
- Reluctance to schedule any appointment
Patient Scheduling Methods
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 mind, they’ll feel more of a commitment and less likely to procrastinate. They’re more likely to respond to your follow-up communications. 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 Space For Them
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 bustling about.
If your office space allows, provide your surgical coordinators with a more intimate and private setup. This helps patients feel more relaxed and focus on setting a surgery date – even if it’s tentative.
Use A Real-time Surgery Calendar
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 an outdated paper calendar with missing information. So which scheduling system best accommodates the patient?
Providing your patients with an accurate calendar and open slots will give them confidence that their options are valid. Using a digital calendar that can be shared, accessed, and updated by multiple staff simultaneously is essential.
Whether it’s a Google or another digital 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.
Make sure you can share the mobile or app version of the calendar with surgeons and other necessary staff so everyone has the same information in the palm of their hand.
Provide Resources And Reassurance
Offer reassurance and guidance during the session. 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, it’s your coordinators’ 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 can 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 help 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.