Planning to Be On Time


Often the number one complaint practice staff receive is related to patients having to wait. In our modern busy lives, the unpredictability of a medical practice can be difficult to accommodate. As a practice it’s easy to just throw our hands up and say there is nothing we can do. There are however some practices (and GPs) who do seem to have better on-time performance.  


We have asked some team members from practices known for being on time for some tips.


Top 5 tips for being on time – from a practice manager extraordinaire:


1.    Make sure staff are resourced with what they need for the next day prior to leaving for the day. Roster support staff to commence 10-15 minutes prior to the first consultation.


2.    Consider using voice recognition technology to reduce the paperwork burden.


3.    Use automated appointment reminders to reduce no-show and late presentations.


4.    Consider flagging people who are chronically late and telling them their appointment is scheduled earlier than what is in the calendar (make sure all staff know about this!).


5.    Have a “next in line” chair close to the GP consulting room door where the next patient can sit – ready to be taken in quickly.


Top 5 tips for being on time – from a busy mum and GP:


1.    Arrive early. This will also allow time to check results that have come in for emergencies. Keep the first appointment of the day for urgent cases (e.g. Monday morning CVA).


2.    Have a great receptionist. Mine always booked some people for long appointments (she knew they took more than 15 minutes) and then put “squeeze in” appointments in the slot with them.


3.    Schedule in time for phone calls rather than have interruptions. Obviously medical professionals are put through – otherwise you play phone ping-pong.


4.    Encourage emergencies to see the next available doctor rather than waiting to see you.


5.    If possible, make an hour lunch break, which gives time to catch up so you don’t start the afternoon already late.  


P.S. Once when I ran half an hour late a patient sent me a gorgeous big bunch of flowers, her reason being that I “never run late so I must be having a bad day”.


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