Scheduling wound care patients can be complicated, and it is hard to know how to properly and efficiently schedule them. Why is scheduling wound patients correctly so important? It affects your patients, your staff, and your bottom line.
Your staff hates it when you run late. It makes their job very stressful for them. Patients don’t like to be rushed, and they don’t want to wait hours to see their physician either, so your staff gets the brunt of the complaints from patients for waiting. Your staff is trying desperately to get you caught up. It is easy for them to get burnt out and make mistakes.
How does it affect you as a physician? You will forgo care. When you are busy, you will procrastinate on that biopsy or those x-rays. You will forget about dispensing wound care supplies or other DME items, because you do not have time or, in the hustle and bustle, you forget. Your bottom line suffers because you did not do the biopsy or dispense those wound care supplies. When you are in a time crunch, it is easy for your patients to receive inferior care, and this situation happens more than you realize.
Protocols Can Help!
Clear, defined protocols must be written and implemented in order to schedule a patient correctly. Wound care patients cannot be scheduled here or there. You must know how much time you need for your wound care patients and what will happen at each wound care visit. When protocols are established, a time frame can be associated with the protocol, and the staff needed can be identified (hint: it might not always be you!). Example: The room will be used for 30 minutes, but the physician will only be in the room for a total time of 10 minutes.
Even after a dedicated time is established, it is vital to answer the following questions for each patient:
- How many wounds is the physician debriding?
You may need to schedule additional time if the patient has multiple complex wounds that will not fit in the allotted time slot. Don’t short-change your patient to keep your schedule.
- Does the patient require numbing of the wounds before debridement?
Your receptionist will need to schedule the patient to come in 30 minutes before the doctor is expected to see them or prescribe lidocaine cream to have the patient apply before they come to the clinic. Sufficient numbing of a patient before debridement will allow the physician to quickly debride the wound.
- Is it a difficult patient?
We all have difficult patients. You and your staff must understand which ones are difficult and time-consuming. This will allow you to adequately schedule them with extra time blocked off or place them at the end of the day.
- Are you treating anything else during the visit or doing an additional procedure such as a nail trim, diabetic shoes, or vascular study?
Your practice needs to schedule your wound care patients correctly so that your clinic runs efficiently and effectively. Following these tips will allow your practice to run smoothly, your patients to get superior care, and your bottom line to increase.
Holly Burkman, MBA
Holly is a recognized international speaker and author. Working with her husband to build a medical practice from the ground up, she has handled all aspects of the podiatry field from medical assisting to billing and practice management. Currently, she spends her time as a practice management consultant helping physicians learn how to run successful medical practices by implementing protocols. Holly holds numerous degrees and certificates that give her the credibility to help practices; however, it is the years of personal in-office experience that allow her to offer customized solutions that make practices profitable again.