Types of Medical Appointment Scheduling

Young doctor on the phone in her office.

If you are a medical professional, or perhaps are a staff member at a medical office, then you know there are a great many responsibilities in the day-to-day routine. One of them, naturally, is working with patients to schedule their medical appointments. And while this should not be a difficult process, there is not a single approach that is streamlined for every type of medical office or clinic.

There are many different types of medical appointment scheduling, and some of them might make more sense for your organization than others. But how do you know which one is right for you? If you have been operating your practice for some time, then you have likely tried various medical appointment scheduling options. (Or perhaps you have been using a particular medical appointment scheduling type simply because that’s where you started).

On the other hand, maybe you are just opening your clinic and want to know what some of the more popular types of medical appointment scheduling are for you to implement. Simply put, as long as patients are scheduling appointments and workflow is consistent and smooth, then that might be a model to stick with. After all, there is no wrong way to schedule patient appointments, just the way that works best for you.

However, it is important that your medical appointment scheduling options are benefiting the patients as well. While one style of scheduling appointments might make sense for your team or staff, if it doesn’t work for the patients then it might be time to switch it up, or make some adjustments.

Here are some of the most common types of medical appointment scheduling options, and how some might play a better role in your operation than others.

Doctor on a cell phone in his office.

Different Types of Medical Appointment Scheduling

You might want to have a firm patient scheduling system to keep things organized and structured throughout the day, which makes sense. However, this might not leave any room for flexibility if an emergency arises.

On the other hand, you might like a more flexible patient schedule throughout the day, as it might eliminate some of your stress to keep things moving. However, is this flexibility as good for the patients as it is for you?

The trick is to find the balance, and once you are aware of some of the different patient medical appointment scheduling types, this balance is easier to strike.

Here are a few examples of different types of medical appointment scheduling.

Time-Specific Scheduling

It doesn’t get more structured than this. Time-specific scheduling is much like it sounds, where patients are scheduled at specific times throughout the day. Naturally, they are each given a respective amount of time-based on the reason they are coming into the office in the first place.

With this type of patient appointment scheduling, the goal is to have an ordered flow to the day. Ideally, this model enables all patients to be given enough time with their doctor, but also that their time in the waiting room is limited. This balance can be tricky, and this model seeks to remedy that.

However, if patients don’t show up for an appointment, this can create gaps in the schedule. Additionally, this model doesn’t leave room for walk-ins or emergencies, which as you know, are common with any medical practitioner’s office. But, it is the most straightforward approach overall.

Double Booking

While this type of patient appointment scheduling might seem unfair, it can help facilitate the flow of patients throughout the day. Essentially, this means booking two patients for the same time slot. What could possibly be the benefit to such a model? In fact, there are several.

For instance, if one patient is going to experience a lengthy procedure of some type, then it is possible that the doctor might see another patient when there is availability during the procedure, whether during the prep or recovery time. This can allow a doctor to see several patients instead of just one that takes up quite a bit of the afternoon.

And yet, this can also lead to increased patient waiting times. And regardless of its efficiency, patients tend to get uneasy when they learn that they have been booked at the same time as another patient.

Wave Scheduling

There have certainly been attempts over the years to streamline the patient appointment scheduling process. One such way is through wave scheduling, which is basically scheduling several patients every thirty minutes (or so).

The order in which these patients arrive is the order in which the doctor sees them. This wave of patients can keep the office moving, and enable the doctor to see many different patients throughout the day, but it also means there is always going to be a patient waiting.

This scheduling model can also lead to delays, and patient frustration when they learn (like double booking) that they have been booked at the same time as someone else. However, by communicating the situation with your patients, you can establish expectations for wait times.

And this note about communication is important, because it shouldn’t just be applied to wave scheduling, but any type of medical appointment scheduling type.

Communication is a Medical Staff’s Ally

Whatever type of medical scheduling options your office incorporates, it is important to keep your patients in the know. That means answering their questions when they have them. However, this can be a job in and of itself, which is why we are here to help.

Think of us as an extension of your medical office framework. Our professional answering services can help free up your day, so that you can focus on patients and your staff can focus on the other office duties and logistics.

Let’s face it, there are many responsibilities when it comes to running a medical practice, and whatever type of medical appointment scheduling you prefer, the professionals at Answering Service Care can help you streamline your efforts.

Free your staff up for office tasks with medical appointment scheduling services.

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