1. Identify every patient’s appointment reason
Is the patient coming for a script only? Or maybe a flu shot? Or is it for a referral to a podiatrist which is actually a care plan and will likely require involvement from the Practice Nurse and Doctor plus eligibility checked prior to the appointment?
Obtaining a reason for the appointment can always seem a little awkward over the phone but it is an essential task to ensure your practice runs efficiently. One way practice receptionists can approach this is by asking, “what is the reason for your appointment?”. If the patient seems a little hesitant you can suggest it is just for a script or checkup? Having this information allows reception, the nursing team, and the GP to plan efficiently.
Also, make sure your online appointment system offers a variety of appointment types to reflect the services you offer. Often online appointment systems like Hotdoc come fully loaded with an excellent variety of appointment types and practices fall short in the identifying the reason for bookings made over the phone.
Alternatively, run Topbar through each patient who is attending for the day to identify further opportunites.
2. Ensure timely patient transitions between the team
Did the new patient only just arrive at 9:46am for their 9:45am appointment and still have a lengthy new patient form to complete? Does a patient need a spirometry but the nurse is running late or the doctor isn’t available to review the spirometry for 15 minutes but the patient is waiting with the nurse and therefore delaying the nurse?
Sit down and look at how timely your patient transitions are within your practice and look at how these wait times between clinical staff can be reduced.
Suggested ways to tackle timely transitions between your team include:
- Perhaps patients requiring a spirometry need to always book in with the nurse 30 minutes prior to their appointment?
- Consider telling new patients a time 15 minutes prior to their actual appointment time to ensure they have sufficient time to fill in the new patient form? Often when new patients are told to come early, they don’t always so an earlier time might be more effective.
- Ask the nurse to note in the waiting room screen (in the items to bill column) of your clinical software (i.e. Best Practice or Medical Director) the location of the patient and the name of the nurse. This makes the patient easy to find for a wound care, for example, where the GP needs to come in a say hello before the patient can leave.
3. Clearly sign destinations within the practice
Often patients get lost in General Practices, either going to the bathroom, waiting in the wrong waiting area, waiting for the nurse in the wrong area and rectifying this costs time. Or perhaps they had trouble finding you altogether?
Are there directions to certain areas of your practice that reception is constantly getting asked? Or is there a particular part of the practice where patients are getting lost? Often your reception team will instantly be able to tell you where your improvement opportunities lie in this area.
- Make sure your website and Google Business profile is up to date with your latest location, clear instructions on how to find you and a recent photo from the street of your practice. This assists patients successfully finding you.
- Ensure there are clear signs from the car park regarding how to enter your practice.
- Check all your waiting rooms, consultations rooms and bathroom facilities are clearly signed.
Small changes will make big adjustments in the efficiency of the practice.