Is Medical Appointment Scheduling Software Really Necessary?

YES! Here's why you need specialized medical appointment scheduling software. Plus, learn the basics of scheduling appointments.

With all the things you need to run a medical office, it may seem superfluous to buy medical appointment scheduling software. But your office can't be completely efficient without it...

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Who's coming in?

Medical appointment scheduling lets you knows who's coming in to the office

Perhaps one of the most important reasons for using appointment scheduling software is the most simple - it lets you know who's coming into the office.

If you know which patients are going to walk through the door, you can find their chart or file and any other necessary paperwork.

You can also verify that they're eligible for insurance, and if necessary, make sure you have the required referral or any required medical records. All before the patient even walks into the office!

Medical offices are usually very busy. Being prepared in any way helps. Knowing who is coming in puts you a step ahead of every appointment of the day.

What about no-shows?

If you pre-schedule all of your appointments, you'll inevitably have patients that forget and don't show up when they're supposed to. This can be frustrating, especially if you have a booked schedule and have to turn patients away because you don't have any open appointments.

Some offices refer to no shows as DNKAs (Did Not Keep Appointment).

Many offices charge the patient a No-Show Fee (usually around $25) when they don't show up for an appointment.

This is billed to the patient just like any other patient balance.

Cancellations and rescheduled appointments

Clock - medical appointments scheduling

On the other hand, you also have to deal with patients who unexpectedly cancel or reschedule their appointments.

These patients usually call at the last minute to let you know that they can't make their appointment. They'll either cancel entirely or reschedule to a different date.

Similar to no-show policies, some offices charge for appointments that get cancelled or rescheduled on the same day, or within 24 hours before the appointment.

Most offices waive this fee if the appointment is cancelled or rescheduled more than 24 hours before it was scheduled.

To make sure your office stays legal with their no-show, cancellation, or rescheduling fees, your policy should be:

  • clearly explained on patient paperwork
  • posted visibly in the office
  • included in your official office policies and procedures paperwork.

Basics of scheduling an appointment

Although all scheduling software packages differ, they all share the same basic components. They're all based on the yearly calendar, and look very similar to a paper appointment planner.

When a patient calls in for an appointment, you can click on the desired day, click on the desired hour, and input the patient data. Once you save the appointment, it stays in the system until the patient comes into the office on the specified day.

When you schedule an appointment, your medical appointment scheduling software program allows you to decide which doctor the patient will see (if your office has more than one provider). It also allows you to specify how much time to block off, or save, for that particular appointment.

This makes sure that your patient sees the right doctor, and that your doctor has enough time to treat them effectively.

Most scheduling software saves all patient appointment data for decades.

How far ahead?

Deciding how far ahead to open your schedule depends on how busy your office is and how quickly you book appointments.

Sometimes this causes delays in your software, until you delete all but the most current years.

But many medical appointment scheduling software programs only let you open up a specified amount of time going forward.

Some offices choose to open their schedules years in advance, and others only months in advance. Until the time is opened up, you won't be able to schedule anything on the blocked days.

Often, in busy offices, you have to overbook appointments. This means that even if you already have an appointment scheduled in a specific spot, you have to put another patient in at the same time because their symptoms are emergent.

Even though this means you have two patients coming in on the same days, it's sometimes necessary if you have very sick patients.

Offices can also charge for patients who come in on an emergent basis and are overbooked on the regular schedule. There are lots of CPT medical billing codes that let you charge for patients seen outside of the regular schedule, including on weekends and evenings.

The basics of appointment scheduling are very simple. What's most important is becoming familiar with the software, and being able to use it quickly and easily.

Once you master the art of booking, overbooking, canceling and rescheduling appointments, your front office will run like a well-oiled machine!

Accounting for all appointments

Medical appointment scheduling software

An important part of being a medical biller or coder is making sure that your office is billing for each and every patient that gets seen.

An easy way to make sure you account for each patient that walks through the door is to cross-check the charges with the appointments scheduled for each day.

On some medical billing software, when an appointment is made, the software generates an internal ticket number for that particular appointment. If you try to close out the day and the ticket number hasn't been entered as a claim, it will indicate this to you.

This is a great help when you're checking to see if you've entered each claim.

For medical appointment scheduling software programs that don't help you with this, make sure you keep track of all appointments every day, even if it means printing out the daily schedules and crossing them off one by one.

This is better than letting an office visit go by without being charged to insurance!

All in all, buying and using a medical appointment scheduling software program is an essential part of making sure you're doing your best to create an efficient medical office, and that you're charging for all the care that your doctor provides.

Scheduling Software Examples

Biosoftworld Medical Software
Biosoftworld provides medical software that concerns electronic medical records, medical billing software and medical office and appointments management. The software is designed with the small-medium sized medical practice in mind. The company provides also coding systems like ICD-9-CM.

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