Improve Scheduling Volumes through Better Block Time Management

Many medical offices base their calendar management strategy around the concept of block scheduling. Block scheduling is the practice of reserving specific blocks of time for various purposes; for example, staff lunch hours, specialty appointments, or time designated for physician paperwork. While this method may be the simplest solution for schedulers, it only offers a ridged 2-dimensional view of availability; not accounting for no-shows, immediate needs, or last-minute changes common to a care space. Additionally, this sends the wrong message by building service availability around what’s the easiest staff rather than what’s best for patients.

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, the patient experience is everything. Health systems must be willing to go above and beyond if they want to ensure the kind of continuity that comes with patient loyalty. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the needs of your staff— with staff retainment and recruiting at record lows, staff satisfaction can be just as essential as patient satisfaction. With careful consideration staff and patient scheduling needs can be met at the same time.

Don’t be a Blockhead...

Approach calendar management from the position of eliminating blocks. For example, rather than closing for a lunch block consider staggering staff lunches in order to handle a reduced patient volume at the same time. Track regularly empty or missed appointment times for better forecasting. Understanding the natural ebb and flow of your office’s week can help you determine where you can give staff time back in their day for duties that don’t involve patients. The goal should be to improve appointment availability overall, then tackle reoccurring issues that result in empty appointment slots like no-shows. And if you can’t fully eliminate blocking, then reduce it…

Strategies for Reducing Block Scheduling

  1. Schedule appointments across all locations instead of focusing on single-office availability.
  2. If you must utilize blocks for Specialty services, then open them up at least 48 hours in advance.
  3. Try a no-show fill or squeeze-in approach rather than scheduling blocks for walk-in appointments.

Effective calendar management is essential for the success of your practice. Improving patient scheduling is a win-win for revenue and patient outcomes. If your organization is experiencing staffing or other challenges that interfere with your ability to fully utilize operational hours, seek out the assistance of an engagement partner like Envera— we design customized patient access solutions.

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