Depending on their size, healthcare organizations see a proportionate number of patients each day. Small practice may see a few patients daily, medium-sized clinics may see a few dozen, and large hospitals may even see more than a hundred patients daily. In light of this, it becomes highly important to manage appointments and consultations. This is where EMR patient scheduling software becomes essential for day-to-day clinical operations.
EMR scheduling software solutions allow healthcare organizations to organize all consultations without hassle. The larger an organization gets, the greater the number of patients it is bound to see. So, it becomes necessary to ensure they t have to wait too long to see a doctor or get an appointment.
Why is an EMR Scheduling Software Necessary?
A system for patient appointment scheduling enables a hospital or clinic to streamline activities surrounding patients’ and doctors’ timetables. Each patient would tend to have a different health problem, and all patients would need to be allotted a physician. A digital platform optimizes this process and ensures smooth day-to-day operations. Let’s see why it would be a great idea to have a medical scheduling system –
1. Physician Productivity
Physicians at small practices and medium-sized clinics would often have to deal with both clinical and front-office tasks. A big part of this is to manage the appointment timings for patients. Trying to manage this task with pen and paper is cumbersome and prone to mistakes. Moreover, it also doesn’t account for any last-minute cancelations or rescheduling.
But software for patient scheduling enables people to book appointments online, which is reflected on the physician’s side of the software. The doctor or a staffer can view the appointments for the day on a screen and move someone up in case another patient cancels. This is especially helpful for private practices with one or a few physicians. They can spend more time and attention on patients rather than managing appointments.
2. Reduces Missed Appointments
Missed appointments are a common reason for the worsening of diseases. People might miss for many reasons, and the task of calling and re-booking tends to make people postpone seeing a doctor. But custom healthcare software solutions for provider scheduling make it fast and easy to book appointments. People can log in to a secure web portal from anywhere and select from available time slots. Moreover, they can also cancel and re-schedule within a minute.
Providers or front-office staff can view their daily schedule and also notify all patients simultaneously if a doctor gets called away for an emergency.
3. Lower Overhead
Managing patient schedules without the software would require a separate staff to attend to phone calls from patients. This staffer would have to take calls, look up available time slots, and write down the names of each patient. But software for patient appointment scheduling allows people to book on their own. The bookings would be reflected on the provider’s side, where the doctor or staffer can view them.
This enables the provider at a private practice or just one staffer at a small clinic to manage patient scheduling. Integrated with practice management solutions, it can go on to lower the operating overhead for small practices in the long run.
4. Appointment Prioritization
Not all patients going to a clinic might need emergency care. However, it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t need urgent consultations. A software platform for medical scheduling allows clinic staff to categorize certain patients’ appointments in case of serious illnesses. This ability to prioritize ensures that providers can attend to minor emergencies that don’t require patients to be taken to the ER.
5. Waiting Lists
Large hospitals and clinics would need to manage larger volumes of patients and also deal with cancellations and frequent re-scheduling. The best solution to this problem is to create waiting lists. Certain medical scheduling software platforms have this feature that helps streamline patient flow, especially for larger hospitals.
If all available slots in a period are booked, additional patients looking for appointments will be put on a waiting list. If a patient cancels an appointment, the person on the waiting list is automatically given the time slot. This ensures that the providers’ time is well utilized and that people don’t need to wait too long to see a doctor. Some automated healthcare solutions for patient scheduling also notify patients on the waiting list automatically if a time slot opens up.
This feature makes it easier to schedule patient appointments and optimizes day-to-day clinical activities. Advanced telehealth solutions can also feature virtual lists waiting lists. These allow physicians to manage virtual consultations for all patients by allowing them to video calls individually.
The Benefits of EMR Patient Scheduling Platform Integration For Clinical Workflows
Electronic medical records contain vital patient information that helps doctors make informed decisions before and during treatments. Patients’ demographic information, immunizations, allergies, previous medications, and others are stored in EMRs. They are electronic versions of patients’ medical charts. The data in an EMR is specific to one clinic or practice and can’t be transmitted electronically to another organization. Integrating an EMR with patient scheduling software holds many benefits.
The larger a healthcare organization, the more the patient volume it will handle. So, a system to streamline this flow of patients becomes necessary for the hospital or clinic to function efficiently. This is where scheduling systems in healthcare play a big role. Let us explore the benefits of using a unified EMR patient scheduling software solution platform in greater detail.
How Does Integrating EMR with Healthcare Scheduling Software Help?
Among the collection useful patient data stored within an EMR or EHR system are patients’ demographic and insurance information. These outline the details of a patient’s health plan and the extent of his or her coverage. By integrating an EMR or EHR solution with medical scheduling software, the providers or clinic staffers can manage patients better.
Let’s look at the benefits of incorporating EMR patient scheduling systems into mainstream clinical workflows –
This is one of the biggest advantages of integrating an EHR solution with patient scheduling systems. Missed appointments can lead to a deterioration of health and worsening of symptoms. This is especially true for patients with serious illness, surgery, or chronic diseases. One or more missed appointments can lead to a delay in changing medications and follow-up observations. But a platform to schedule patient appointments within an EHR patient portal can reduce missed appointments.
Patients can log in to their EHR patient portals securely and look up available appointment time slots. They can then select one at their convenience and make an appointment, which will be reflected on the providers’ side. Moreover, they can also cancel and reschedule with a few clicks in a minute. This ability and ease of making an appointment encourage more people to see their physician at the prescribed times and take their care more seriously.
An integrated health information system with an EHR and patient scheduling software improves administrative workflows. The staff no longer needs to attend phone calls from patients asking about available timings. They can just look at the booked appointments for the day on their screens and carry on with their activities.
This is especially important at larger organizations that see many patients every day. A single staffer can view all the appointments for the day and even notify patients if a doctor gets called away for an emergency. This will save time and efforts that would otherwise go into calling every patient and telling them manually.
For small practices, incorporating EHR appointment scheduling platforms with practice management solutions helps providers work better.
Better Patient Experience
An integrated platform with EMR patient scheduling features lets people see all the time slots available for appointments. They can then book one and even cancel and reschedule again. This freedom and convenience are coveted by people who work demanding jobs. The knowledge that one can schedule at any time from anywhere with an internet connection would encourage more people to show up to appointments within the prescribed time.
Moreover, patients won’t be turned away if the doctor they scheduled to see needs to leave in an emergency. Furthermore, in the case of many patients, each of them will be included on waiting lists to streamline the flow of patients. So, an EMR patient scheduling solutions combination can work as a patient engagement system for providers or administrative staff.
All of this results in a positive overall experience for patients.
Prioritization of Appointments
Custom healthcare software solutions that feature an EMR patient scheduling duo help the staff to prioritize appointments based on patient conditions. People suffering from heart conditions or pregnant women experiencing discomfort can be seen sooner by consulting physicians. This is a major benefit of combining EHR appointment scheduling platforms for patients. It ensures that people who need emergency care without an E.R. admission can receive care quickly.
Types of Healthcare Scheduling For Patients
There are multiple ways to handle medical office scheduling –
1. Time Slot Scheduling
This is perhaps the most common patient scheduling process. Under this, patients are offered a list of available time slots. Once patients select a slot, they must fill in their details and follow up with an email confirmation. The staff needs to monitor the appointments and notify other patients of availability in case of cancellations or even move someone up.
2. Wave Scheduling
This type of patient scheduling involves providers or front-office staff allocating multiple patients within a time frame. For example – seven patients can be allocated between 10 am and 11 am. The doctor sees the seven patients who arrive within this time frame on a first come basis. This is a great way for larger hospitals to manage a large flow of patients and doctors’ schedules daily.
Wave scheduling also helps medical organizations prioritize seriously ill patients and other emergencies.
3. Open Booking Scheduling
This type of booking system provides patients with a period to have their appointment. This is especially important for medium-sized facilities with an unpredictable patient flow daily. An open booking scheduling system helps both providers as well as patients. Providers can attend emergency cases sooner, and patients won’t have to wait too long in case of no-shows or cancellations by other patients.
The patients showing every period are served on a first come basis. The first to arrive is the first to be seen.
4. Clustering Scheduling
As the name indicates, this type of patient scheduling method groups patients with similar conditions and allocates a one-time block for the group. This makes it easier for providers to manage patients’ needs efficiently. Multiple patients requiring similar services can also be grouped, and injections, wound treatment, and others can be administered faster. Clustering scheduling also works in cases where multiple people are brought in for similar problems.
Patient scheduling is vital for providers to do their jobs efficiently. Software platforms or scheduling systems in healthcare are important for managing large numbers of patients without over-stretching an organization’s human resources. Moreover, it also ensures a good patient experience since they won’t have to wait too long to see their doctor. So, integrated healthcare solutions at hospitals or clinics are better off incorporating scheduling systems.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.