Why Centralized Scheduling Is the Perfect Fit for Your Practice
How dependant are you on the knowledge and experience of the individuals answering the phones in your practice?
Does your scheduling lose some of its luster when your star scheduler goes on vacation?
And how damaging would it be for you to lose that person to another practice?
Maybe you’ve been looking at the pros and cons of centralized versus dedicated scheduling. If so, you’ve probably concluded that dedicated scheduling is anything but efficient. Having a single point of contact most often means a backlog of calls waiting, long wait times, and lots of voicemails that threaten to send patients looking for another doctor. Plus, if that scheduler misses a day…
Centralized scheduling offers efficiencies that are hard to match with a dedicated scheduler model. But traditional forms of centralized scheduling increase the complexity and time requirements of agent training.
Is there a way to bring the best of both worlds to the scheduling process?
Realizing the Centralized Promise
In an ideal situation, every call would be answered quickly by someone with the knowledge and skills to perfectly match the patient to the right doctor, while equally distributing otherwise unassigned patients among your providers. And do all this without spending six months training agents before they can go live. Is that even possible?
The short answer is yes.
A Guide for Success
In our ideal situation above, the sticking point is the knowledge and skills thing. But what if you could establish the knowledge and skillset one time and then duplicate it whenever needed regardless of your practice’s size or scheduling complexity?
With guided workflows, that becomes a real possibility. But what are guided workflows?
Let’s start with a very basic definition. A workflow is simply a list of steps that must be taken to complete a task. So, let’s substitute procedure for workflow.
If our task is to get Patient Smith scheduled with the provider that can and will address his medical need, the procedure includes all the steps needed to move from the patient’s first words to putting the patient on the right physician’s schedule.
Ahhh…but there’s the rub. In a medical practice setting, those steps can be incredibly complex.
But again, how great would it be to define and codify all those intricate steps just once so that successful scheduling isn’t dependant on the personal knowledge of the agent? Here’s where guided scheduling comes into play.
Imagine cloning your most experienced scheduler so that every caller receives the world-class customer care only that particular agent can deliver. You know, the agent that understands every fine distinction in the way your practice works. That ‘gets’ your providers and knows Dr. Jones is only interested in seeing patients that may be candidates for left knee replacement on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays, except during Little League season.
Patient scheduling software with guided capability incorporates practice and physician preferences and delivers seamless and repeatable matching of the patient to the right physician. Without requiring an extensive personal understanding of the underlying process on the part of your schedulers. And minus the dreaded six-month training period. But not all patient scheduling software goes deep enough into your process to deliver the results you require. Let’s talk about evaluating your options.
It Takes the Right Tool
When considering a physician scheduling software option that will allow you to scale your scheduling operations without extensive training requirements, ask the following questions:
-Is the vendor truly knowledgeable of the healthcare space? Or are they selling one solution for many industries? Healthcare scheduling is a different animal from, say, scheduling for a manufacturer. So no, one size does not fit all. Don’t settle for anything less than a vendor that is exclusively focused on health care and knows the space inside out.
-Does the solution provide guided scheduling procedures? In other words, will the solution walk your agents through scheduling any patient request for any service on every call without having specialized knowledge? Or does it require decisions to be made by agents that they may or may not have the knowledge to handle?
-How deep does the medical scheduling software go in addressing the specific needs of your practice? Many solutions function like nothing more than a calendar: “You need to see a doctor on Wednesday? Let me see who has an opening on that day.” Solutions like this can’t address the nuances of medical practices, such as considering an individual physician’s preferences in scheduling decisions.
-Who will be responsible for building out the software? Will the vendor’s staff handle it, or will it be left up to your practice to customize the solution to fit your individual scheduling protocols?
Getting every patient connected with the right doctor seamlessly and consistently is the goal of every patient/scheduler interaction. Centralized scheduling with the right tools in place offers the combination of the efficiency you need and the personalized service your patients expect. Patient scheduling software with a robust guided scheduling capability makes it work.