In this month’s installment of the First Five Years in Family Practice Oh My Blog! series, Dr. Hunter shares five tips to scheduling your day to help you leave work on time. If you try one of these tips, let us know how it went, or provide your own suggestions in the comments below!
Written by: Dr. Tyler Hunter
- Be on time. Just because you are the boss now doesn’t mean you can be late. If you start behind it’s near impossible to catch up.
- Know your patients’ needs and personalities. There certainly are patients that have complex medical needs or maybe you know your patient can be long-winded in explaining new symptoms. These patients potentially need to book longer appointment slots. If you know a particular patient will never have an appointment wrapped up in less than 20 minutes, both you and them will feel less rushed if you book them 30-minute appointment slots. Have your staff make a booking note if you choose to do this.
- Book in phone call slots around your lunch break, especially if you only take a short lunch. Even if you’re running behind, you will get a chance to sit down, eat, and hopefully catch up by a few minutes as phone calls are more likely to be completed in less than the time allotted. This will prevent further compounding how behind you are as the day progresses.
- Don’t feel obligated to squeeze patients in. Hopefully you set your schedule to a number of patients you are comfortable seeing per day. It’s okay to say no to that family member wanting to add on, or to the patient who calls and thinks their two-hours of coughing needs an urgent assessment. Each patient and issue deserve your full attention and a full assessment. This is hard to make happen when you are always adding in extra patients who are not in your schedule.
- For patients that you know need heights, weights, blood pressure, etc., have the staff ask them to arrive before their appointment time. Children and infants are probably the biggest culprits for the above as they take time to get vitals and be roomed. There is nothing more frustrating than running on time and then waiting for patients to have the above completed before you can see them. If your time with a patient starts 8 minutes into the appointment time it is going to be very difficult to complete the interaction on time. I would recommend having your staff advise these patients to arrive 5 minutes before their appointment time (just tell them their appointment is 5 minutes earlier) to avoid waiting on them.
Only problem is these suggestions are the equivalent of “list weight and stop smoking” for our patients.
Pretty much all of these need multiple interventions and supports to put into practice! An ongoing challenge for this hour-behind doc today!
Thank you for these practical tips!