The practice started by working on the culture so staff knew access was important. Specialized training was delivered at all levels to not only impart that access was the focus, but why it received a high priority.
“Specific scripts were written, and staff were trained on using them,” says Dr. Dickinson. “When a patient called, the first question was when they would like to be seen. We captured demand and found what patient preferences were.”
Armed with that information, the managers looked at the practice’s scheduling templates. The survey indicated a large number of people wanted to be seen in two weeks or less, while others were happy to wait a month. Reserving half of the slots and opening them up 14 days prior to the appointment allowed the practice to match both demand streams.
The practice is proactive in patient communications. Even when access is addressed, one of the drivers of missed appointments is patient forgetfulness.
“By changing the culture, scripting and demand-capacity matching, our patient perception of access went up, and our no-show rates went down,” says Dr. Dickinson. “When we started, access to our rheumatology practice was below average. Now, it is now in the top quartile, and we aim for the top 10%.”
- Harrop C. Data insights: Practice leaders report their biggest challenges with appointments are no-shows and appointment availability. Medical Group Management Association. 2017 Oct.
- Studer Group, Prachyl D. 7 ways to improve access and reduce no-shows. Hardwired Results. 2014 winter;(14).