Sometimes scheduling appointments can be one of the hardest parts of running a veterinary clinic. Finding a time that works for you and your client is harder than ever. The goal of creating a seamless appointment scheduling system is simply to make life easier – both for your staff and for your clients.
Here are 6 tips for creating an appointment scheduling system that will have your clinic running like a well-oiled machine.
1. Start Scheduling at Noon
When scheduling appointments, ask your staff to begin scheduling morning appointments from noon and backward. For afternoon appointments, have them begin at noon and go forward. By scheduling this way, you’ll have better time management throughout the day.
If there are blocks of time in the morning or the afternoon that aren’t filled, your team can use that time for non-patient care tasks, team trainings, or meetings. If you’re trying to save on overhead, you could allow staff to come in late or leave early.
2. Remind Clients About Appointments via Text or Email
Automated appointment reminders greatly increase appointment confirmations, reduce no-shows, and increase overall scheduling efficiency. Try using these reminders to reiterate useful information about the upcoming appointment. For example, you can remind the client to fast their pet before certain procedures, or bring a fecal sample.
Also, when your clients arrive for their appointment, whether they are new or returning clients, forms typically need to be filled out. Usually these forms are filled out when they are waiting to be seen, but that can create a backlog of clients needing to be seen and the waiting area gets crowded.
Instead of having clients do paperwork in person in the waiting area, have them fill out digital forms (such as check-in, drop-off, consent for surgery or dental, and new client forms) available in the PetDesk app. This simplifies the whole check-in process and reduces the time clients and their pets have to wait.
3. Automate Responses to Routine Questions
Your staff shouldn’t have to answer every question your clients have. You can cut out the need to respond to frequently asked questions by creating automated responses for scheduling. “Confirm,” “cancel,” and “reschedule” are the most common prompts, but you might also want to include prompts for other phrases like, “okay,” “can’t make it,” or “change date.”
4. Create a Patient Waiting List
Unfortunately, there will be last-minute cancellations from time to time. You can fill that time by creating a patient waiting list. The patient waiting list allows you to fill a newly open slot so you don’t lose revenue, and helps clients whose appointments are further out. When there’s a cancellation, you can use the patient waiting list to call the next client in line.
5. Send an Email & Push Notification to All Clients
Email is a great way to reach out to your clients to relay any important messages or clinic campaigns. For example, should you have to close the clinic for unforeseen circumstances, you can send a notification to clients stating their appointment will be canceled for the day and it will need to be rescheduled. Clinic updates such as traffic delays or construction, special promotions for Dental Health Month or other services can also be sent. With PetDesk, these messages simultaneously go out via the PetDesk platform and includes push notification so clients receive these important messages through email as well as through their mobile app. .
6. Prioritize Critical Appointments
When your staff are scheduling appointments, have them use their best judgment to determine when to schedule the patient, if at all. Sometimes a problem can be addressed with an email or phone call, other times you may want to schedule the patient as soon as possible. Prioritizing appointments ensures that the patients who need immediate attention are seen right away.
Seamless Appointment Scheduling System Works for Everyone
When you have a seamless appointment scheduling system, everyone benefits. Your clients can make appointments in advance with forward booking, so have your staff ask if they’d like to book an appointment in advance during checkout. They can access forms that you share with them through the PetDesk app, thus reducing the possibilities of them losing important documents.
Your team can focus on patient-related tasks to ensure they receive the highest quality of patient care possible. On top of all of that, you can be reassured that your clinic is running efficiently, your clients are happy, your patients are receiving quality care, and your bottom line is looking pretty good!