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What Is the Best Way to Schedule Patient Follow-up Appointments?

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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

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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