Medical Office Appointment Scheduling Template

by Blog, Patient Intake

Are you looking for a way to create a medical office appointment template? If so, leveraging the best practices is important for finding the ideal template for your scheduling needs. 

There are several challenges involved with appointment scheduling, like the fact that providers work at different speeds, patients have different needs, appointments can be canceled at short notice, and sometimes, patients don’t even show up at all. 

In this article, we will go into further detail on how to manage scheduling with templates to handle the most common scheduling challenges. Learn more about how to create a medical office appointment template below.

Why Your Practice Needs a Medical Office Scheduling Template

There are several benefits of having a medical office scheduling template. These include:

Improving Customer Service

One of the first benefits of the medical office appointment scheduling template is that you can drastically improve customer service. People use technology for nearly everything, so an appointment reminder system is a convenient way to help your patients schedule and remember their upcoming appointments. If you keep your patients happy, they are more likley to come back for future visits.

Reducing No-Shows and Cancellations

People today are busier than they ever were in the past, so it’s not unusual for someone to forget about a doctor’s appointment. With the right template, you can use a medical office appointment scheduling software to remind patients of appointments they have scheduled. That way, they have time to reschedule, adjust, or cancel their appointments. This also allows you to fill appointment slots, if possible, and get other patients seen more quickly.

Reducing Time to Provide Care

Patients get frustrated when they have to wait weeks or months for an appointment. If you have an automated waitlist included in your scheduling template, you can clear any appointments that are canceled in real time, which opens up new appointments for patients on the waitlist. This will reduce the size of your waitlist without requiring manual work by your already overworked staff.

Minimizing Unused Appointment Slots

Another major benefit is that you can minimize the number of unused appointment slots. Many times patients prefer to schedule their doctor’s appointments on the same day. If you have an advanced medical appointment scheduling template, you can monitor your schedule, allowing patients to schedule appointments for slots that have been vacated that day.

Improving Scheduling Efficiency

In the past, you may have relied on staff members to call patients to get appointments scheduled or return calls left on your voicemail after hours. This can lead to frustrated patients, stressed staff members, and an inefficient office workflow.

If you take advantage of an automated, digital appointment scheduling system, you can greatly improve the efficiency of your practice while also enhancing the patient experience and improving new patient acquisition.

Improving Your Practice’s Reputation

Ultimately, each of these benefits can improve the overall reputation of your medical practice. Patients will be happier because they can manage their appointments 24/7 from their phones, even after-hours. Your staff will be happier because the office will work much more efficiently. 

When your patients and employees are satisfied, you not only improve the experience for everyone involved, but also improve the reputation of your practice.

Challenges for Creating a Medical Office Appointment Scheduling Template

There are a few significant challenges you may encounter when working to create a medical appointment scheduling template, including:

Communication Preferences

When you develop your medical office appointment template, it can be difficult to manage patient preferences. The vast majority of patients prefer to communicate via text message – data shows as many as 98.2% of patients like getting texts from their providers. 

Therefore, go with a solution that allows patients to communicate via text message to correct appointment issues. By offering a texting solution, you can reduce the communication barrier to scheduling and changing appointments, increasing the number of patients who not only make appointments, but also keep them.

Patient Data Privacy

You also need to take steps to properly manage patient privacy. When sending push notifications about appointments to patient phones, make sure protected health information is not revealed. You might even want to conceal the name of the practice, so others who can see the device screen cannot determine what the appointment is for.

Ensure you prioritize the privacy of your patients and carefully follow HIPAA guidelines when messaging patients. For more information on this, read our complete guide to HIPAA compliant messaging.

Lack of Alternative Access Options

Finally, some patients might also be frustrated by the lack of alternative scheduling options. As a practice, you should stress your preference for having patients schedule their appointments using the medical appointment scheduling template offered through self-scheduling capabilities. 

On the other hand, you can always remind patients that they still have the option to make an appointment by calling instead. Just be sure to inform them that it may take longer to schedule an appointment over the phone. Present them with other options, but emphasize the electronic option as a simpler and faster way to schedule appointments at their convenience.

Automatic Appointment Reminders

Must-Have Features of a Medical Office Appointment Scheduling Template

There are several features you must have if you are creating a medical office appointment template and want it to work as efficiently as possible. These include:

Practice Management Integration

You should use a program that integrates with your existing practice management system to create centralized scheduling. The DASH platform enables practices to easily manage rules and preferences without having to train schedulers on specific details. The self-scheduling your patients will use also leverages these same rules and preferences.

Automatic Appointment Reminders

Find a program that sends out automated patient appointment reminders. The option for push notifications is also helpful since it allows patients to stay in the know about upcoming appointments. You can also provide a link allowing them to reschedule or cancel their appointments. DASH enables patients to get appointment reminders via phone and reschedule/cancel appointments if needed.

Secure Data and HIPAA Compliance

Another must-have feature for your scheduling template is the prioritization of secure data encryption and compliance with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). With the right security measures, you can keep all patient information protected.

Real-Time Updates

You should use a medical appointment scheduling program that updates itself in real time. That way, patients can always see when there are empty appointment times available. They can click back to the schedule, see if someone has canceled, and claim the vacant slot. This allows a patient to seamlessly move from the waitlist to a vacant slot, reducing the number of open slots you have every day.

Follow-Up Scheduling

Try to find a program that offers follow-up scheduling to make sure your patients return for future appointments. You may want to find a program that allows patients to automatically schedule a return visit if they need to follow up with the doctor. This could be used for a specialty visit related to a chronic condition or a simple yearly wellness checkup.

Easy to Use Software

Any scheduling solution should be easy for staff, patients, and doctors to use. If the program is easy for patients to navigate, they are more likely to use it to schedule their appointments. 

As part of DASH implementation, the Relatient team works with medical groups to ensure best practices are followed for creating workflows, templates, and processes so the software can keep your practice running efficiently.

Search Functionality

Patients should be able to use the program to search for health care providers who meet their specific medical needs. They should have the option to filter practices by reviews, location, medical specialty, and any other preference they might have. Additionally, it is important to provide the closest option for the patient if you have multiple locations.

How to Create a Medical Office Scheduling Template

If you want to get the most out of your medical appointment scheduling template, there are several steps to follow. These include:

Research

First, you need to consider the individual features of all the medical appointment management programs available. Take a look at your specialty, compare the programs to the needs of your patients, and identify the program and setup that works best for you.

You may want to speak to colleagues in your network who have rolled out templates and scheduling optimizations at their practices to gather tips and learn about best practices.

Planning

List the features that must be included in your medical appointment management platform. Put the best interests of your staff and patients first. Make sure you have a talented team that can identify the most important features for the practice and provide feedback early on to ensure you’re considering different needs for various levels and teams of your staff.

Design and Creation

Employ a team of software engineers that can design the program and customize it to meet the needs of the practice. With a trusted platform like DASH, you will have access to a consultative team including a software development consultant who helps you determine the best solutions for your practice. 

During the design phase, make sure the user interface is easy to understand. This will make the program easier to adopt for both the staff and patients. You should leverage all best practices, such as those shared by the Relatient team. Relatient works with practices around the United States to improve scheduling workflows and implement new scheduling solutions.

Testing

Before going live, the program must be tested thoroughly to identify any issues before it is rolled out to the public. Collect feedback from staff members and patient testers and incorporate this feedback into future versions of the product to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.

Implementation

Once the program has all the desired features, implement it into your practice by introducing it to patients, staff members, and doctors. Make sure there is a technical team performing maintenance on the program regularly or leverage a platform like DASH where best-in-class security and technology rollouts are implemented. 

Get the Most Out of Your Medical Office Scheduling Template

Simply put, a medical appointment scheduling template can do wonders for your practice. It can help to improve customer service, reduce no-shows and cancellations, and improve efficiency. All of us can improve the reputation of our practices by using a scheduling template.

You should work with a reliable, experienced team that can help you overcome the challenges of creating an appointment scheduling template, such as communication preferences and privacy issues. If you want to get the most out of your medical office scheduling template, find a reliable technology partner to help you today.

Preparing for flu & vaccine season?

Let us help.

See why 10,000+ physicians trust us with their patients and businesses, and learn how we can help you:
  • Reduce no-shows
  • Increase patient balance collection
  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • Transition to value-based care
  • Optimize your office operations
  • Automate patient outreach
  • Increase compliance
 

Yes, I want a demo