Schedule Management – Overview and Tips

As a new start-up practice, your schedule may only have two to three patients per doctor day in the beginning, but let’s set you up for future success from day one, patient one. This is a special and unique time in your career and your new business. You have the time and the freedom to establish processes that will set you up for success. Enhance your personal life and provide the best experience for your patients. And yes, this can be achieved by good schedule management.


First, a couple of schedule tips before we talk about the patient schedule. Fill all morning or afternoon slots first. The theory behind this is that grouping those patients together into a specific day part, it allows you to have a larger block of time to devote to something that’s going to help you grow the business. In the beginning that is getting out into the community, doing networking, going to meetings or community events. Things that will help you grow the practice and fill that schedule. Secondly, the front desk must be covered at all times on doctor days. I don’t mean someone needs to be tethered to that front desk because you might only have one employee at this time, but it just means that there should be someone available to greet patients when they’re coming in. If you have more than one employee, then one of those employees is typically doing pre-testing on doctor days or for this example practice has a full-time full time and a part-time employee. The part-time employee is typically doing the pre-testing on those doctor days. Perform a time audit before increasing the number of exams per day and that just to make sure if you do increase the number per day, would you have run behind on that particular day that you’re doing the time audit? So, what does that look like? And then, let’s talk a bit about the actual patient schedule and controlling that schedule. We know that free form or open schedule approach does not grow well with a practice. A much better system is a designed schedule template. This means that you will designate specific blocks of time in your schedule for specific appointment types. By creating a template for your practice to follow, your team members who help with scheduling patients can simply find the next available complete eye exam or contact lens follow-up or emergency appointment for a patient as opposed to placing them just anywhere in the schedule. Scheduling in this way is beneficial both from an organizational and efficiency look or patient care look and practice growth and profitability or business care. Start it from day one.


As you prepare to open your new practice, in the beginning, you should schedule patients one hour apart. Doctor, you might be doing everything in the clinic and possibly optical and contact lens fulfillment as well. You do not want to run behind and keep the next patient waiting. We are making first impressions with every single patient and this is important to your patient that you respect their time and see them on time. As your patient volume increases and your practice grows, a good schedule template will allow you to design the life you want. This is your opportunity to do this, it’s your practice doctor. Very quickly you will see many patients per day, so let’s set you up for growth and the best systems to get you to where you want to go, good schedule management.