High Patient Volume? Add a Waitlist to Reduce Frustrations

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It’s difficult to avoid patient frustration when your practice and/or physicians are booked months out. Patients don’t want to wait extended time frames for their non-emergency appointments or annual visits. Parents want their children to be seen immediately when they notice an issue, even if it’s not urgent. Practices are looking for a solution to efficiently handle patient demand, while still maintaining a high-quality patient experience. 

waitlist graphic

The Impacts of Growing Patient Volumes Across the Country

In addition to a growing population of people needing specialty care, more procedures are moving from hospitals to outpatient settings and more patients are no longer postponing specialty care due to safety concerns. 

The Review of Ophthalmology states, “One of the many challenges starting to impact ophthalmologists in America (as well as many other medical professionals) is a steadily increasing supply of patients needing care, with a dwindling supply of surgically trained doctors able to care for them.” 

While you want to provide care, it’s not always easy to maximize physician schedules. At the same time, when patients cancel and reschedule appointments, the challenge only becomes more frustrating for your staff, who are focused on patient care and other high-value tasks. Front-office staff don’t have time to call on other patients to fill appointment gaps, especially if your practice is still facing staffing shortages. 

Consider a new approach to reduce patient frustration and get more patients seen, without burdening your staff. Patients are looking to book appointments quickly and are willing to get on waitlists to ensure they can receive care as soon as possible. Practices are adding automated waitlists to their online patient scheduling platforms to keep schedules close to max capacity and minimize staff burdens to fill open slots. 

The Benefits of Adding a Waitlist

Joining a waitlist has become an increasingly widespread practice. Consumers now often get on waitlists for dinner reservations or request to be notified when an online store gets their favorite product back in stock. With a waitlist, restaurants can maximize guests without burdening servers and kitchen staff. Similarly, online stores use their waitlist to reduce consumer frustration while maintaining demand and revenue. Without a waitlist, these organizations leave money on the table. Bring this same experience and convenience to your practice and increase realized revenue. 

As your patients go to schedule an appointment online, they may not find a time slot that fits their needs, or they may realize the next available appointment is months away. Give your patients the option to join the waitlist for a specific appointment type, provider and desired time slot(s). With an automated waitlist, you can offer your patients an opportunity to become “NextUp” for an appointment that fits their needs, while at the same time minimizing gaps in your schedule and increasing patient intake.  

Using a waitlist, specialty practices will also reduce the revenue impact of unanticipated gaps in schedules, due to cancellations and rescheduled appointments. While you can’t control if patients cancel or reschedule, give your practice a tool to easily fill those gaps, without creating additional work for your staff. 

How a Waitlist Could Work for Your Practice

Combined with a smart, online scheduling platform, a waitlist will help your practice gain visibility and control over scheduling by automating outreach to patients to fill open appointments at the last minute. 

How specialty practice waitlists work:

When patients are searching for appointments and don’t see one that meets their needs, they will have the option to join a waitlist. With smart rules, the patient should be able to choose the first available appointment or a day/time that works best for their schedule. To ensure your patients follow the right workflow for your practice, customize waitlist options to your practice’s needs. Allow patients to select their desired appointment type and physician when joining a waitlist.  

With a waitlist connected to your smart scheduling platform, it will trigger when times open up due to cancellations and rescheduled appointments. At this time, the patient who is first in line or “NextUp” for that appointment type will receive an automatic text communication. Once the patient is notified that their time slot is available, they will be asked to confirm their appointment. Upon patient confirmation, an automated waitlist platform will book that appointment. Finally, with smart automated rules, the waitlist tool will automatically move down the line, according to set time standards, until a patient books that open appointment.  

How a waitlist supports your entire practice:

  • Patients: A waitlist helps you get more patients seen with fewer appointment gaps, which helps your practice work through high demand quicker to reduce scheduling backlog. When gaps open, patients on the waitlist will be happy they can be seen earlier and you can ensure that open time was spent getting a patient seen, versus being left empty. 
  • Staff: An automated, hands-off waitlist approach frees your staff from manually calling on patients to fill gaps, letting them focus on high-value tasks and patient care.  
  • Physicians: Adding a waitlist gives your practices a way to increase the number of days where physicians are at 100% capacity. Your doctors and physicians will be satisfied that their time is maximized, especially those who must travel to different locations to see patients and provide care.  

Add a Waitlist to Your Patient Engagement Approach

If you’re experiencing high demand for care, try a waitlist approach. With less schedule gaps and more patients seen, you will recognize the difference in staff workloads, physician time and most importantly, patient satisfaction. 

Learn more about Clearwave NextUp. Use Clearwave NextUp to enhance your patients’ self-scheduling experience, reduce unfilled appointments and increase realized revenue. Schedule a demo. 

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