6 Steps to Open Access Scheduling

Helen Limjoco

To satisfy patient demands for better access, clinics are adopting open-access scheduling. The model leaves more time open for same-day appointments, especially for urgent appointments.

If your organization wants to give it a try, these steps can help you get started.

  1. Get a good understanding of your current operations. Who are your busiest providers or locations? What are crunch times of the day, week and year?
  2. Get all staff on board. Get backing for an approach that makes sense for your practice – whether it’s keeping some appointments open each day, setting aside open blocks of time on certain days, or being more flexible in the types of appointments that can be scheduled throughout the day.
  3. Manage patient expectations. It’s impossible to promise that all patients will be seen today by their own doctor. But perhaps patients who call by 9 a.m. can see someone on their clinical team today.
  4. Reduce your backlog of appointments. This is often the biggest challenge. Making room in the schedule for same-day appointments may mean adding timeslots at the beginning and end of the day and over lunchtime for about 2 months – until your clinic schedule is more open.
  5. Make contingency plans. Plan ahead to cover providers’ vacations and crunch times, such as sports physicals in the fall.
  6. Reduce demand for in-person visits. Consider video calls for non-urgent visits so patients can talk to you real-time without a lengthy office visit.

Has your organization tried open access scheduling? Post a comment and share how it’s working for you.


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