One of my favorite songs is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. A lovely day in optometry is one in which every templated appointment on your schedule has been used by a well-cared for patient. In this world of pandemics, traffic, homeschooling, after-school activities, meetings, services, and at times overwhelming busy-ness, your patients will no-show, cancel, and reschedule. It’s always been a challenge to the practice and Covid-19 has made it harder than ever to control. Don’t blame your patients! You know exactly how they feel on those not so lovely days.
If there were ever a time to have a carefully crafted, consistently kept Patient Courtesy List, THIS IS THAT TIME. You are providing a courtesy to your patients, and this strategic tool can make or break your business. Your entire team must know how to professionally gather the relevant information while scheduling. It’s not hard, but it takes intent: ”At times Dr. Jo has a change in her schedule. If this happens may we contact you to offer you an earlier appointment? About how much notice would you need to get to the office? 20 minutes? An hour?” This information must be logged accurately and made available to everyone on the team at a minute’s notice.
When an opening in the schedule occurs, the whole crew must be poised to leap into action, implementing your sliding schedule strategies to fill that opening as soon as possible. Your primary receptionist or Patient Care Facilitator will lead the charge and will call in the rest of the troops, if assistance is needed. Be ready.
Give yourself a safety net that you can employ if you just can’t fill those open slots before they pass by. The safety net can take many forms, from opening up lunch slots, to later night slots, to unblocking an admin Friday afternoon. Keep in mind the purpose of a safety net: It’s only there in case you fall/fail. If you are all using your Courtesy Lists and Sliding Schedule procedures well, you’ll rarely need to use it. You’ll be glad you have it, though, when you need to use it!
Here’s to fewer lost days, and more lovely days ahead.