9 Tips to Becoming a Scheduling Rock Star

Are your patients frustrated by long waiting times? Are your clinicians irritated about inefficient scheduling? Are customer no-shows a big problem at your clinic? These problems can be resolved by improving your scheduling. This blog outlines 9 tips to becoming a scheduling rock star.

1. Use a Cloud-Based Practice Management Software (PMS)

Using a PMS may be the most important thing you could do to simplify scheduling, optimize resources, boost productivity, reduce customer wait times, improve your show-up rate, as well as maximize sales and profits. There are certain, valuable features that you can get in a PMS schedule that you couldn’t get in a traditional calendar, including automated reminders, customer profiles, document managing, reporting, and more. Also, your PMS will make it easy and convenient for customers to self-schedule their appointments online, which will streamline the scheduling process, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce the administrative burden of manually scheduling, re-scheduling, reminding, and confirming appointments.

A cloud-based system will help improve your clinic’s scheduling, boosting transparency, accuracy, and collaboration. When your clinic transitions to the cloud, it means multiple people across your organization can access and update the schedule and see any changes in real-time. This is especially helpful for practices that have multiple locations. Another huge benefit of hosting your scheduling software in the cloud is that your employees can log in and access your clinic’s schedule from anywhere. That means if your clinic needs to close due to bad weather, illness, or any other reason, your employees can easily reschedule appointments from home. It also makes it quick, accurate, and easy for clinicians to see their schedules and prepare for each appointment. Since security should be a top priority for your clinic, take proactive steps to ensure that only approved staff members have access to sensitive documents and data stored in the cloud. Protect your data through secure passwords, two-factor authentication, and role-based access to your clinic’s sensitive data, such as customer information and financial records.

Free Guide

How to Boost Revenue With Resource Optimization

This guide provides more scheduling tips to maximize revenue and resources. Auditdata’s Manage has the most advanced scheduling tool in the marketplace, allowing clinics to book resources – including audiologists, equipment and screening rooms – for the exact amount of time needed.

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Resource Optimization Guide

2. Use Reminders To Decrease No-Shows

Roughly half (52%)of practices spend at least 10 hours per week manually confirming and scheduling appointments and returning customer emails and calls. This is a huge time waster and administrative burden. Instead, leverage your PMS to automate customer reminders so your staff won’t need to spend a large chunk of time manually calling, emailing, or texting customers to schedule appointments and remind them about upcoming visits.

Besides, automated appointment reminders improve customer communication and minimize the impact of no-shows on your clinic’s productivity and revenue. No-show rates in healthcare can be as high as 80% due to transportation barriers, financial issues, bad weather, forgetting about the appointment, and other issues. Some estimates show missed appointments can cost a single clinician as much as $150,000 in lost revenue, and for practices with multiple clinicians, those numbers rise even higher. Use scheduling software that integrates with a PMS to send out automatic appointment reminders to increase your show-up rates and reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

When you use bidirectional text appointment reminders, customers can easily text you back if they need to reschedule, to get directions, or if they have any questions. In fact, 73% of healthcare consumers prefer to receive appointment reminders via text, and 95% read and respond to texts within three minutes. Include your cancellation or rescheduling policy in your appointment reminders so customers know about any cancellation or no-show fees they’ll incur if they fail to show up for their appointments.

3. Practice "Block Scheduling"

It’s best practice in healthcare to set up appointments in consecutive blocks, using midday as your starting point. For instance, schedule the 11 a.m. to noon slot first and then schedule 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., etc. Then, schedule afternoon appointments starting from noon to later in the day. This reduces empty appointment slots and “gaps” in the day and ensures the clinicians’ schedules are filled with back-to-back appointments.

Also, make it common practice to schedule the biggest blocks of time first – appointments that will take an hour – and then fill in any “gaps” with shorter 15 or 30 minute appointments. Using this method, your clinicians will have earlier or later blocks of appointment-free time, which is when your clinic can schedule staff meetings and administrative time for your clinicians to catch up on paperwork and other admin tasks.

4. Create A Customer Waiting List

Waiting List

Despite your best efforts to minimize customer no-shows and cancellations, it’s inevitable that people will get sick, have family emergencies, have a car that won’t start, or face other last-minute challenges that will prevent them from coming to their appointment. Negate the negative impact of these cancellations by creating a waiting list of customers that want to get into your clinic earlier than their scheduled appointments.

Whenever you have a cancellation, send a mass message to your customer waitlist through your PMS. Through this automated communication, you can notify them of available time slots and allow them to quickly confirm whether they want to schedule. This frees your staff from calling each customer on your list until all the slots are filled, saving tremendous time and effort. This approach also helps ensure that any empty appointment slots are booked.

5. Expand Your Hours Beyond 9-5 On Weekdays To Target Specific Audiences

Your customers’ hearing care needs are not limited to Monday through Friday, 9-5, so your clinic should offer after-hours and weekend appointments to accommodate customers’ busy schedules. Expanding your hours will help you appeal to more customers and prospects, including younger, working professionals, and demonstrate that you are flexible enough to meet your customers’ needs.   said Rikke Rytter, a 54-year-old working woman, living in Denmark.  


Spotlighting a Businesswoman's Frustrating Hearing Care Experience

"I have hearing loss and I’m considering getting hearing aids, but the hearing clinics near me are only open during the workday and are closed during the lunch break. With my job, it’s too much of a hassle to try to take time off to get my hearing tested and get fitted for hearing aids. I’d be much more likely to go to the hearing clinic if they offered some evening or weekend appointments - as my optical and dental shops do - to make it more convenient for working professionals."

Portrait Rikke Rytter

Rikke Rytter

54-year-old woman with hearing loss

6. Prioritize Appointments

Prioritize Appointments

Your front desk staff should be trained on how to prioritize customers based on specific factors, including the level of care each customer needs, the required time it will take to complete their appointment, etc. Your staff should prioritize customers to ensure that they get the prompt, high-quality care they need. Smart Blocking ensures that the right resources are available for each appointment, streamlining the scheduling process, and improving patient satisfaction. This feature streamlines the scheduling process, offers real-time updates, provides the ability to schedule multiple appointments in a single visit, and allows clinic staff to view the availability of specialists and choose the appropriate one for each patient. Specialist Allocation Rostering lets clinics assign hearing specialists to appointments based on availability, qualifications, and expertise.

7. Pre-Qualify Prospects Before Booking Appointments

Engage - Generate Leads

Are your clinicians wasting time examining customers without hearing loss? If so, your practice may be losing out on significant revenue. Instruct your front office staff to pre-screen each prospective customer by asking key questions (e.g., what makes you think you have a hearing loss, do you have trouble hearing conversations, etc.) before booking an appointment with a clinician. It’s also valuable to use an iPad screening tool to pre-qualify leads and ensure that your clinicians only spend time examining customers with hearing loss. This simple change in protocol can help your clinic increase your conversion rates, sales, and other key performance indicators (KPIs).

8. Use Staff More Efficiently

Keep Clinicians Busy Audiology

Your clinicians are busy seeing customers all day. Make sure they can focus their time and effort on conducting exams, providing diagnoses, and fitting customers for hearing aids. If, for example, a customer needs new batteries for their hearing aids, that’s something that your support staff can handle. By offloading certain tasks to other staff members, you’ll reduce your clinicians’ burden and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed and, potentially, overextended.

9. Collect And Analyze Data

Does it surprise you to know that 30% of customers have left a medical appointment due to delays, and 1 in 5 patients have switched doctors due to long wait times? This reinforces the need for efficient scheduling in your clinic! When you collect data and analyze trends, you’ll get valuable insights around the possible causes of your scheduling issues. For instance, data might show that inefficiencies in your scheduling are causing bottlenecks and workflow problems for your audiologists. Use scheduling software with robust reporting features to get a better idea of what’s working well and what needs to be adjusted. Data can also show you where customers are dropping off during the scheduling process and provide an accurate look at how many customers are no-shows. These reports can also provide valuable insights into your clinic’s capacity, referrals, daily number of appointments, sales, and other key metrics.

It may seem like a “basic” task, but effective scheduling is actually one of the most important things that your audiology clinic can do. By improving your scheduling process, you’ll also enjoy a number of significant benefits, including happier customers and clinicians, increased efficiency, better use of resources, reduced waiting times, decreased no shows, and higher revenue. Therefore, your audiology clinics should take these steps to improve the way you schedule.

Auditdata Manage

Free Up Time Where it Matters

Auditdata Manage relieves staff of manual processes and data chaos, cutting paperwork and complexity out of the daily routine. The practice management software frees time up, so hearing care professionals can focus on delivering knowledgeable and tailored care to their patients.

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