While many consumers are able to receive same-day services for many of their daily needs, this has traditionally not been the case in medicine. This fact is rapidly changing, however, due to the increasing recognition of the importance of same-day appointments. Same-day scheduling sets aside appointment blocks for patients to see a doctor on the same day rather than needing to schedule days or weeks in advance. This type of scheduling gets patients seen quicker, improves overall patient satisfaction, brings new patients in, reduces patient no-shows, improves overall revenue and turnaround times.
What Makes Same Day Appointments Difficult?
With the Affordable Care Act, there are many more Americans who are looking for regular care from their physician. This has led to a massive increase in demand for medical services, especially among primary care doctors. This increase has exposed a great many lackluster scheduling and patient communication programs within practices. This inefficiency includes ineffective office scheduling, which leads to high rates of patient no-shows. Also, same-day scheduling requires a very coordinated approach that does not overload doctors or scheduling staff.
One of the most effective solutions that physicians have recently discovered is the practice of effective and well-managed same-day scheduling protocols.
Why Same Day Appointments Are Essential
In a survey of 12,825 patients in 47 practices, a 10% increase in the proportion of same-day appointments was associated with an 8% increase in overall patient satisfaction. This study demonstrates that practices should be cautious of increasing the level of same-day appointments that they need in order to maximize the success of their practice.
Most often, patients want to see their doctors on the same day if they’re not feeling well or experiencing a health emergency. Having to wait days or weeks to see a doctor leads patients to head to emergency rooms, retail clinics, and urgent care centers — or to even avoid care altogether. Instead, same-day scheduling is getting patients to their doctors promptly and helping physicians build a closer and trusting relationship with their patients.
Same-day scheduling is not just about patient convenience, but it’s also about a physician’s bottom line.
Physician practices can potentially lose out on a lot of revenue from missed appointments. The problem often arises when a patient books an appointment months in advance, and then forgets the appointment. Patient no-shows can cost individual practices an average of more than $3,600 a week, reports show.
Having same-day appointments also reduces important barriers to care. Patients are more apt to get care at a lower-cost location, such as a physician’s office, if they can see their doctors on short notice.
However, this does not mean patients will always use same-day appointments. Rather, it is more likely that patients will feel that they are in better hands when they know that this option is available to them in times of distress. Otherwise, they might head to an emergency room or forget about their once-yearly appointment.
How To Run Same-Day Appointment Scheduling
Transitioning to a calendar system that allows for same-day appointments requires research, planning, and a buy-in from the whole team. When exploring the option of moving to a same-day scheduling system, practices need to understand no-show and cancellation rates and how they can affect the business.
Additionally, practices should assess their same-day scheduling needs and determine how many open slots they can realistically provide on a week-to-week basis. Most often, these slots are determined by cancellations and no-shows and can be given out on short notice. Other times, offices can choose to only offer a certain amount of same-day appointments depending on the demand the practice is experiencing any given week or month.
It is also important to understand that switching to same-day availability can be a big transition for physicians. In order for a practice to be successful, physicians need to be prepared and ready for these types of appointments while having access to the necessary resources.
The Future Of Same Day Scheduling
Same-day appointments are here to stay as the healthcare field becomes more and more consumer-driven. It is likely, however, that the future of this practice will be driven by in-app scheduling and mobile capabilities. Same-day scheduling is poised to continue to expand in the near future, so it is important for every practice to explore this option and how to best implement same-day scheduling.
Schedule A Same Day Appointment Today
Imperial Center Family Medicine is an experienced provider that offers primary and preventative services in the Triangle Research Area of North Carolina to help patients manage ongoing health and wellness needs. Reach out today to schedule a same-day appointment with one of their providers.