Time ... there never seems to be enough of it. This sentiment is never more appropriate than during the holidays. In addition to our regular schedules of balancing our work and our personal lives, there are end-of-year activities for our children, gifts to buy, cards to send, and cookies to bake. The list goes on.
Patients lose patience
Almost everyone feels the need to accomplish a lot every day, whether it is during the holiday season or any other time of year. We see this in many of our patients who feel they spend too long a period of time at the eye doctor’s office. Walking through a reception area or dilating area, I hear patients asking one another, “What time was your appointment?” and comments that practices overbook because two or three patients are booked for the same doctor at the same time.
It has been reported that wait times are the number-one reason of patient dissatisfaction. In order to meet the demands of the aging population and to maintain the revenue stream of previous years, we book more patients, perform more diagnostic tests, and counsel more surgical patients, which takes longer than ever before. Combined, these activities create a perfect storm.
The art of booking
Those of us in the field know that the schedule template in ophthalmology can accommodate several patients booked simultaneously, but doing so successfully is an art form more than a science. A well-designed schedule is dependent on the choreographed intermingling of appointment types, utilization of rooms, staff, and diagnostic tests, and, perhaps most importantly, the average amount of time the doctor spends with each patient. After all, a doctor who spends 10 minutes with each patient can only see six patients an hour.
Make a resolution
As the new year approaches, resolutions are created and often not kept. One that should be resolved is to evaluate your schedules and processes that will reduce wait times. Instead of comments about overbooking, patients will say, “I have been coming here for years, and have never gotten out so quickly.”
On behalf of the Ophthalmic Professional team, I wish you both balance and time during this holiday season. Happy New Year! OP