At a doctor’s office, varying periods of low and high productivity coupled with no-shows and emergencies make it very difficult to schedule appointments and plan on shifts. Without an effective doctors rostering system to streamline the workforce and patient care, it is easy for a healthcare centre to be thrown into turmoil. A state of confusion will lead to dissatisfied patients, overworked staff and a general drop in productivity and revenue.
The main challenge when organising a doctor’s office is accounting for the emergency patients, no-show or late patients and other unseen circumstances. These tend to create inconsistencies which if not attended to could cause disorganisation and low productivity. A good schedule will take into account these factors, leading to the formulation of plans that aim towards a high delivery of care by minimising the waiting time of patients, which leads to a high customer satisfaction rates and consistently high profits.
5 Tips for Scheduling your Doctor’s Office
While it is not possible to control when and for how long a patient will stay for an appointment, some adjustments on the staff end could help in keeping the schedule on track, reducing the office stress and keeping the waiting time reasonable. Below are some tips on how to achieve this:
1. Automate your Scheduling
Scheduling the doctor’s office is a very difficult task, but only if done manually. Automating your timesheets with technology such as nurse scheduling software not only saves you a lot of time but also reduces the likelihood of errors. The human resources that would have then been used to handle the timesheets manually can then be directed to adding staff for peak seasons.
One major advantage of an automatic scheduler is the ability to incorporate new information such as changes in the number of patients, adjusting and readjusting shifts to reduce periods of under or over-staffing. When set to work together with other tools such as facial recognition to clock staff in and out and medical expenditure reports, automatic scheduler could use such information to predict the need for the doctors, hence a more accurate roster for the doctors and nurses.
2. Plan Shifts to Cater to Demand Changes
Each day at the doctor’s office is different. Apart from the routine checkups and exams which can be planned for, there are emergencies and seasonal shifts – such as flu season – which leads to varying demands. Meeting these changes in demand without disrupting the institution’s normal operation is the key to maintaining profitability. This can be done:
- Analyse demand signals – Demand signals include deliveries, number of patients, pharmaceutical reps that visit the doctor’s office, etc., Looking at the peaks and valleys will allow a better prediction of the flow of patients, enabling the scheduling of staff to prevent a period of over or under-staffing.
- Collect Patient and Staff Feedback – In most cases, the best tellers are right there with you. Listening to what the staff are saying will give you a good picture of what is happening. What times are they too busy? When are they idle?
When such information is incorporated into the nurse or doctors scheduling software, the staff can then be properly organised to ensure they match the demand of the time. This will ensure no patients are kept waiting for longer than is reasonable and no members of staff are overworked.
3. Schedule with Compliance in Mind
Due to the life and death nature of the healthcare industry, there are numerous rules and regulations to comply with. Updating certifications, keeping up with the latest medical news and updating practice to ensure staff and patient safety are just some of the activities requires of hospitals and healthcare centres. Regulation compliance also requires that the welfare of the staff is also taken into consideration. This can be done by:
Set the record clear for compliance – Some situations such as when a patient requires emergency care might force a member of your staff to break routine or miss a scheduled break. Such occurrences should be recorded automatically by the workforce management system so that it can be taken into consideration and the appropriate corrective measures put into place.
Schedule meal or rest breaks – Depending on how busy your facility is, this may or may not be possible. However, each hospital or healthcare facility must give its staff some time to rest to comply with regulations. This will also help with their morale to improve the quality of service they give.
Reduce unnecessary overtime costs. – Especially during the peak seasons, one may not realise when overtime sneaks upon them. By correctly reading and interpreting signals such as the feedback from staff, you will know when there is a likelihood of overtime, and hire extra help to avoid overworking employees.
4. Motivate your Employees
For a facility to offer quality care to patients, the staff must be trained, motivated, and happy. Employee motivation can be achieved by making communication easy, enabling them to easily request time-off when they are tired and to bring forward problems they face. Staff should also be allowed to communicate easily with each other, able to interchange shifts between each other as conveniently as possible. This solves the problem of reassigning shifts for management, enabling them to concentrate on other important tasks.
Keeping your Doctor’s office organised makes work easier for the staff and the patient. Roster building for healthcare facilities using smart scheduling solutions transforms the hectic tasks of organising a healthcare centre’s roster into just a few clicks. An organised workplace will lead to satisfied and motivated staff members who will, in turn, increase customer satisfaction and the revenue.