What Is the Best Way to Schedule Patient Follow-up Appointments?
Abstract:Background: What is the best way to schedule follow-up appointments? The most popular model requires the patient to negotiate a follow-up appointment time on leaving the office. This process accounts for the majority of follow-up patient scheduling. There are circumstances when this immediate appointment arrangement is not possible, however. The two common processes used to contact patients for follow-up appointments after they have left the office are the postcard reminder method and the prescheduled appointment method.
Methods: In 2001 the two methods used to contact patients for follow-up appointments after they had left the clinic were used for all 2,116 reappointment patients at an ophthalmology practice at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The number of completed successful appointments, the no-show rate, and patient satisfaction for each method were calculated.
Results: A larger number of patient reappointments were completed using the prescheduled appointment procedure than the postcard reminder system (74% vs 54%). The difference between completed and pending appointments (minus no-shows) of the two methods equaled 163 patients per quarter, or 652 patients per year. Additional revenues associated with use of the prescheduled appointment letter method were estimated at $594,600 for 3 years.
Summary: Using the prescheduled appointment method with a patient notification letter is advised when patients do not schedule their appointments on the way out of the office.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2003
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