Last Updated | September 6, 2022
Overview: Patient Scheduling Workflow
Every week, a telemedicine software vendor, a hospital, or a medical practice schedules several appointments.
Scheduling responsibilities such as sending reminders, negotiating follow-ups, and scheduling new appointments for a thriving clinical workflow are crucial. Doing each of these tasks manually often sucks up valuable time and decreases productivity. This often causes patients to lose patience and complain. Luckily, there are several options available today that can help clinicians to automate these arduous tasks. One of them is Electronic Health Records (EHR).
What is the EHR Patient Scheduling Process?
An EHR patient scheduling process is one of the essential elements of providing high-quality healthcare services. It is crucial to understand patient prerequisites by determining proper strategies to begin an efficient patient scheduling process. A streamlined and organized appointment scheduling process helps win the patient’s trust and significantly impacts the yield cycle performance.
So, how does an EHR patient scheduling system work?
Clinicians collect a patient’s demographic data for eligibility and preliminary authorization prerequisites. After considering the requirements, the provider fixes the schedule as per their availability. Then, direct communication between a physician and a patient can begin via messaging. Through this communication with patients, providers inform them about their scheduled appointments and seek confirmation.
Once an appointment is confirmed, either a patient or a provider can send automated reminders to remind each other. This smooth scheduling process organizes clinician calendars for streamlined appointment management, improves patient engagement, decreases no-shows, and provides a real-time dashboard displaying appointments to providers.
Moreover, EHR scheduling also has an option for automated follow-ups and authorizes providers to keep a comprehensive track of patient payment records and outstanding payments. Whatever EHR scheduling a healthcare facility may use, it must comply with HIPAA laws.
The three major things addressed in HIPAA law refer to keeping patient information secure. Healthcare establishments must ensure that three requirements are fulfilled: physical security, administrative, and technical security. Now that you know the basics of EHR scheduling, let us look at why it’s so important.
Importance of an EHR Appointment Scheduling Workflow
An EHR appointment scheduling workflow is essential for both patients and doctors. This electronic scheduling not only saves paper but also has multiple benefits for practices. Listed below are some of the factors that make EHR scheduling crucial.
Keep Slots Full
No-shows can cause loss of revenue, impact workflow, increase expenses, and cause annoyance. An EHR appointment scheduling system vastly reduces no-shows. This saves both time and money.
Convenience, Ease, and accessibility
For most services, people often turn towards online systems supported by online hospital management systems because it is the most convenient way. That’s why patients look for a facility that provides online appointment scheduling to avoid the hassle involved in booking via phone. Accessibility to an EHR scheduling system helps patients stay connected to healthcare service providers and manage their time.
With an EHR, patient data management is more straightforward. Practices can create a single way to manage patient information: save, update, and reschedule it. Analyzing, recording, and reporting such information can help doctors keep a patient’s file well-organized.
In contrast to a traditional appointment method, patients do not need to schedule their appointments during office hours. With an EHR appointment system, they can see the availability of physicians and schedule their appointments anytime.
What are EHR Patient Scheduling Best Practices?
Nowadays, patients find it increasingly convenient to use apps and online portals. EHR scheduling allows just that. It makes it easy for patients to schedule their meetings, saves time, and is super convenient for all parties involved. Moreover, clinical staff can reallocate their time and energy elsewhere. Additionally, the use of a user-friendly interface for EHR increases customer satisfaction.
Effective communication is a crucial factor in patient satisfaction. To do this, automatic appointment reminders in an EHR are a way to improve communication and reduce cancellations. Furthermore, the EHR scheduling system helps schedule in-person appointments for patients whose issues can only be solved face-to-face with a provider.
On the other hand, some other patient issues can be fixed via email or phone. This helps practices save a lot of time, allowing them to schedule more revenue-producing appointments.
With the use of EHR patient scheduling data collection, maximum provider productivity, and minimal patient hold times can be achieved by determining which patients need more time than physicians are allowing.
What is EHR Patient Scheduling Workflow Tips?
An electronic health record (EHR) scheduling system is critical to support healthcare services and patient care. Proper scheduling with the use of the right EHR tool will generate good results.
Here are some EHR patient scheduling workflow tips:
- Since the healthcare industry is dedicated to adopting EHR systems to improve patient allegiance and reduce telemedicine-startup-costs, your practice has to use and manage technology efficiently.
- Also, every practice must lay aside some time each day to carry out communication tasks, including answering co-workers’ questions, replying to messages, and coordinating functions like prescription refills, lab orders, etc.
- The check-in and check-out procedures affect the patient flow, so before the arrival of a physician, patients must fill out forms with front-end staff members. To successfully execute the patient scheduling process, your entire team needs to work in harmony.
- It is also essential to always use the best telemedicine software development whenever there is an opportunity to simplify and automate manual tasks.
What is EHR Appointment Scheduling in Healthcare?
EHRs are a prime example of how healthcare software development services can be used to make the lives of both patients and doctors easier. In a practice that uses EHR, the medical staff does not have to do all the work. It handles most tasks, such as booking appointments, showing a physician’s availability, sending reminders, and making payments.
In healthcare, having an EHR implementation integrated with a web portal allows patients to schedule their appointments through organized online systems and add required information as early as possible. This and other relevant information lets healthcare providers forecast how busy their clinic or practice will be or understand how much time they should allow for different types of appointments.
Listed below are some advantages that EHR appointment schedule offers:
Reduction of Data Issues
Poor information or misunderstandings can derail the appointments of patients for the entire day. EHR appointment scheduling helps avoid all that.
For example, when an appointment for more complex treatment is scheduled like a routine procedure, the number of patients following that appointment is likely to be delayed. An EHR understands that and adjusts appointments accordingly.
EHR for Fast Workflow
Unless everyone in a practice manages the workflow quickly, the time saved developing data-driven and accurate patient scheduling goes in vain. Indeed, healthcare providers cannot rush their patients through every process nor end appointments when they still have questions or need.
Hence EHR appointment scheduling ensures that necessary information is always available to assist clinicians in treating multiple patients simultaneously.
Challenges of EHR patient scheduling:
- For practices in rural areas, connection to the system and the internet can be challenging, so they must make sure EHR implementation is not stressful.
- An EHR implementation for scheduling can be expensive to buy and use. Moreover, finding a physical infrastructure, training, and support can be drawbacks for smaller practices.
- Some providers and patients who are not well-equipped to use the EHR patient scheduling system may give up on the system earlier or reject it. Before practices bring in EHRs, they must consider the hurdles they may face with coworkers and patients.
- Though the primary purpose of an EHR implementation is to increase workflow, it can sometimes mess up your practice’s workflow if it is not adjusted to conform to its purpose correctly.
- While using EHR scheduling, practices should train their staff. However, this requires extra resources, time, and effort that some medical practices cannot afford.
- An EHR patient scheduling works well when all users are committed to maintaining their calendars, but the entire structure can fall apart if they do not understand how to keep their calendars up-to-date.
EHR appointment scheduling Opportunities
- With EHR scheduling, practices can designate some parts of schedules as private or public to allow patients to schedule their appointments and see the availability of a physician.
- These published appointment systems enable doctors to share some parts of their schedule to enhance workgroup calendering; in other words, patients can view schedules and request appointments.
- EHR scheduling is also used to specify complex cases, which need to be scheduled with longer treatment times.
- Doctors use analytics to lower the chance of severely over-or under-scheduling the day.
- When a doctor’s office publishes an appointment schedule, it permits patients to view forthcoming availability and requests to schedule their appointments.
What are the 5 Scheduling Types?
The five scheduling types are Wave scheduling, Wave and walk-in appointments, Double bookings, Time-slot scheduling, and Open appointments.
Wave Scheduling is when patients come in waves or at different times of the day and are attended in the order they arrive.
Wave and Walk-in Scheduling
With this approach, practices can schedule patients at specific times during the first part of an hour and keep the second half open for walk-in patients who need instant care. This way, practices can prioritize appointments that need urgent care.
With double scheduling, two patients can be allowed to make an appointment at the same time. This is when a physician allows two patients to arrive simultaneously and schedules both into the same time slot.
This type of schedule can be used when newly arrived patients need urgent consultation and are added into an already-full scheduling system.
Time-slot scheduling is the most common type of scheduling. This schedule is used when a patient is given a list of vacant time slots to select from. The patients click on the time slot that suits them, fill out their details, and receive a confirmation SMS or email.
Open booking is another type of scheduling used when patients are not given an exact time for their appointments. However, they are told to come in a specific time range. The patients are treated in the order of their arrival.
How do you Schedule Patient Appointments Effectively with EHR?
Here are some ways to schedule patient appointments effectively with an EHR:
Streamline the Schedule
The best practice is to allow patients with morning appointments to meet providers before noon, and the patients with afternoon appointments should be scheduled to meet providers afternoon. This established standard will help providers maintain maximum productivity and ensure that most of the day is scheduled.
Execute Patient Self-Scheduling
On average, a phone call to schedule an appointment takes a long time, so your practice likely spends hours a day scheduling appointments. Give your patients the freedom to schedule their appointments with EHR patient scheduling.
Patient visits are variable in terms of time requirement and level of care required. Keep these factors in mind as your practice decides when and where patients need to be scheduled or whether they need to be scheduled or not.
Some patient issues can be solved with a brief phone call instead of scheduling their appointments. This helps physicians save time.
Make the most of the appointment reminder system to increase the number of on-time comings and saved appointments. No-shows are inconvenient and expensive when your practice is extensive and has a large waitlist.
How can Patient Scheduling be Improved with EHR?
One of the fundamental purposes of using electronic health record (EHR) systems is patient satisfaction with your services. An EHR scheduling can help your practice offer optimal health care. Here’s how it improves the schedule:
- It reduces waiting time for patient appointments and improves appointment scheduling.
- Using an EHR scheduling decreases unnecessary immunizations and examinations, which might be unsafe and expensive for patients.
- It enhances communication with patients and decreases turn-around time answering back to clinical inquiries and billing.
- Using it gives easy access to clinical guidelines and protocols so that you can deliver the most optimal and current care to patients.
- It offers your patients fast, easy access to their health data and ensures that their information is safely and securely available to the right individuals.
- This helps your practice deliver better medical care to patients, and improve patient scheduling, care quality, convenience, and patient satisfaction.
Which EHR Scheduling System Best Accommodates the Patient?
WebPT, with 65,000+ members at about 9,000 clinics, is the leading system for improving patient care and accommodating patients. It is mainly helpful for outpatient practices of various sizes.
It gives ease to therapy professionals to turn from paper and outdated systems to a cloud-based and user-friendly solution. This web-based scheduling system alleviates significant investments such as costly servers or bulky IT support.
WebPT’s integration manages patient documents, progress, analytics reporting, billing as well as clinical schedules. It maximizes the efficiency of medical staff by allowing scheduling through an online calendar that syncs with a patient’s records.
Whatever the location of your practice, WebPT can enable your practice to utilize treatment rooms, maintain patient flow, and confirm that patients come on time for their appointments.
Moreover, WebPT makes it easy to view and update schedules for patients and assists in encouraging appointment attendance via the phone, automated text, and email.
In case cancellations occur, practices can use WebPT’s waitlist feature to fill those appointments back.
Some Best EHR Patient Appointment Scheduling App?
Many healthcare app developers develop appointment scheduling apps with free plans to help solo practitioners and small practices begin with automatic appointment scheduling.
Some of the best EHR patient scheduling apps are listed below:
Acuity Scheduling is one of the best scheduling apps that target the healthcare and wellness industry. It helps to support patients through Acuity Certified Experts and emails. It also offers free signup to users to schedule their appointments, make payments, and complete information forms online.
Zoho Bookings is an online scheduling system created to organize the entire booking and appointment process. It lets patients self-schedule as well as make payments for their appointments. Moreover, Zoho also helps healthcare providers eliminate double scheduling, endless emails, no-shows, and late fees.
Calendly is an advanced scheduling platform that helps medical care providers schedule meetings with patients without the bulk of emails. It is an automated system that makes it easy to find available appointment times.
Setmore is an online scheduling solution that addresses the patient’s needs for an online scheduling system. It allows bookings 24/7 with freedom for patients to book their appointments by themselves.
SimplyBook.me is another appointment scheduling app that targets medical care services to help them easily schedule patient appointments. Patients get reminders of their appointments and can pay online anytime.
What is the EHR Patient Scheduling Backlog?
An EHR patient scheduling backlog contains appointments for future schedules that have been left off from the current schedule because of a lack of space. Hence, the appointments cannot be made at the present day.
Creating an unorganized backlog of appointment reserve slots that can otherwise be used for patients calling for meeting up with the clinician. Now, this means the backlog is a hindrance to workflow improvement. Traditionally, the backlog was used to push current appointments to the next day to preserve the current schedule from overbooking.
However, EHR scheduling helps complete current appointments on time, so there’s no need to create a backlog. A practice is unlikely to improve workflow without eliminating the backlog and ensuring that every appointment is fixed on time each day.
The appointments that go in the backlog may cause a delay in other succeeding appointments. Every day your practice will have a list of appointments in the backlog, which means you cannot schedule new appointments on those days.
Therefore, a backlog must be eliminated to revert to the new requests sent by patients. Once the backlog is reduced, no delay can occur in access, and the workflow will automatically improve.
An EHR Patient Schedule Template
EHR scheduling templates are a valuable tool to ensure complete documentation of patients when making appointments. A template is an EHR mechanism for documentation used to collect, present, and organize medical data components. It is essential to carefully and thoughtfully design and evaluates EHR templates. With scheduling templates, patients can add their data so that the time fixed for appointments is not delayed with the data collection process.
Templates can be considered as clinical decision support system examples tools that are filled with data to ensure that enough data is available to carry out appointments and the treatments accordingly.
These templates can be customized to fit the specific needs of each physician or practice. For instance, for more critical treatments, clinicians need to add more detailed patient information. So, they may add additional columns or rows for additional data.
The scheduling templates should be designed to collect specific patient data before an appointment is fixed. This helps providers figure out how much time each appointment needs to be allotted. The users of templates need training, monitoring, and education to use templates properly.
What questions should you ask when scheduling a patient appointment?
At first, give patients data about your practice with supporting details and ask them why they are seeking care, what questions they have about their upcoming appointments, and what insurance they have. You must also ask them to select any dates and times for their appointments only if you have any available. This ensures you are not only collecting data but also caring about them.
What are some free EHR patient scheduling systems?
Some free patient scheduling systems are:
- Squarespace Scheduling
- Square Appointments
How is EMR appointment scheduling effective in inpatient workflow management?
EMR appointment scheduling effectively increases workflow by eliminating expenses and waste of time. It also helps to increase overall productivity while simultaneously increasing both patient and employee satisfaction.