A Closer Look at Overbooking Medical Appointments

At Vital Interaction™, we have the pleasure of serving businesses in the healthcare world. We are honored with the opportunity of helping solve some of the most difficult scheduling problems.

Scheduling is already one of the most complex and difficult mathematical problems to solve (look no further than the airline industry)—and it is even more complex in the healthcare industry. Doctors, patients, different procedures, and varying preferences, among others, make medical scheduling a difficult endeavor.

One solution that many medical practices employ to keep providers’ schedules as full as possible is overbooking one or more patients into a single medical appointment slot.

The more I’ve come to understand the struggles and nuances of medical scheduling, the more I get why so many medical practices use this tactic.

Let’s take a look at some factors to consider when deciding how and when to best overbook medical appointments for your practice.

Overbooking Medical Appointments To Your Advantage

Here are five factors to consider when deciding how and when to overbook medical appointments. 

Vital Interaction™ has recently started analyzing our customers’ appointment and no-show data, and we’ve observed some highly interesting insights and correlations that we were not expecting.

Here are five insights gleaned from our research, followed by smart overbooking strategies we and our customers recommend.

1. Most practices tend to experience their highest no-show days on Fridays and Mondays.

Focus on overbooking medical appointments on those days.

2. Keep track of cancellation requests received over the weekend.

If you know you are typically going to receive five appointment cancellation requests, for example, over the weekend, consider adding five additional appointment slots to Monday’s schedule.

3. Some practices I have spoken with actually keep appointment slots open based on insurance type.

For patients with certain insurances types that have a higher no-show rate, many practices we work with tend to overbook those appointment times.

4. Analyze your no-shows by provider or appointment type.  

We have noticed that certain providers and appointment types may have a higher no-show rate than others, so it may be worth overbooking these slots more-so than for another provider in the group who doesn’t have high no-show rates.

5. We have been told that a rainy or gloomy day can increase no-shows dramatically.

Though we’ve yet to prove this claim with hard data, we believe it’s still worth keeping track on your end to see if you notice any scheduling patterns as they relate to the weather.

You as a practice can take action on some of the data by adjusting the way you schedule or even working with us to adjust your patient outreach. To get started, reach out to your account manager, who can help you analyze your data to look for actionable trends.  

At Vital Interaction™, we’re dedicated to providing the most efficient patient scheduling and communication services to help you navigate current trends in patient care. Find out how our services could make a difference for your practice by calling (512) 487-7625.

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