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The Three Tactics Tahoe Fracture Used to Ease the Pain of Appointment Scheduling

The Three Tactics Tahoe Fracture Used to Ease the Pain of Appointment Scheduling

Getting patients on the schedule is one of the most basic — and most important — functions that a clinic must manage to be successful. It seems like a simple task — call patients, book appointments and repeat until the schedule is full. But appointment scheduling can feel like an impossible game of tetris, regardless of the practice’s size or number of years in operation.

Tahoe Fracture and Orthopedic Medical Clinic, a well-established, multi-specialty and multi-location practice serving the Carson City, NV area, found itself facing many of the common appointment scheduling challenges in spite of its long tenure. Founded in 1966, the practice has deep roots within its community and delivers service out of seven different locations across the area.

“On any given day, we found ourselves fielding hundreds of calls, staring down over a hundred referrals that needed scheduling, and dealing with cancellations and waitlists. Our team, as agile as they are, couldn’t keep up with patient demand, and we found ourselves falling behind.”

Melinda Peterson,Tahoe Fracture’s Office Manager

“On any given day, we found ourselves fielding hundreds of calls, staring down over a hundred referrals that needed scheduling, and dealing with cancellations and waitlists. Our team, as agile as they are, couldn’t keep up with patient demand, and we found ourselves falling behind,” explained Melinda Peterson,Tahoe Fracture’s Office Manager. “Our patients and our providers deserved better.”

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Prioritizing Referral Management

The process of booking an appointment is a patient’s first introduction to a medical practice. Research shows that the ease — or lack thereof — of scheduling an appointment is one of the most influential variables that affects a patients’ satisfaction with the practice. 

For specialty clinics, these first appointment requests often come via referral from a hospital or primary care provider. But because scheduling staff need to book these new patients while juggling follow-up appointment requests, referrals are often placed on the back burner and can sit untouched for days because the scheduling staff is busy answering hundreds of inbound calls from existing patients. It’s not surprising then, that the healthcare industry is challenged to get referred patients scheduled for their appointments. 

“Between calls, our scheduling team would try to work in referrals that came in, but they would often fall to the wayside. At any point, we would have 150 referrals waiting in the fax machine,” Peterson said. “Patients would call in because they hadn’t heard from us. We were so far behind, we wouldn’t get to scheduling the referral in time and the patient would go somewhere else.”

“Between calls, our scheduling team would try to work in referrals that came in, but they would often fall to the wayside. At any point, we would have 150 referrals waiting in the fax machine.  Patients would call in because they hadn’t heard from us. We were so far behind, we wouldn’t get to scheduling the referral in time and the patient would go somewhere else.”

Melinda Peterson,Tahoe Fracture’s Office Manager

The Tahoe Fracture team started using Luma Health to streamline its referral management process. “Instead of relying on our team to call referred patients, we now enter all referrals into Luma Health, which triggers an automated outreach to have patients initiate the intake process,” described Peterson. “As soon as we receive the referral, the patient is prompted to call in to complete their file and get an appointment scheduled. And if the patient can’t complete the call for whatever reason, we see that status in real time so our team is prompted to call the pateint to finish the referral intake process.” 

Simplifying the referral workflow helps to get patients access to the care they need. In fact, clinics who use Luma Health’s Referral Management module often see a 60% increase in scheduled referrals. This short video explains how it works:

Handling Cancellations and Waitlists

Appointment cancellations are part of the business. The ability to rebook cancelled appointments, and slot waitlisted patients into newly opened appointment times, is essential for revenue optimization. 

Like referrals, managing a waitlist is a task that often gets deprioritized in the face of endlessly ringing phones. This means that appointments get cancelled, but whether the vacancy is filled is entirely unpredictable. Practices and providers end up losing out on valuable appointment revenue, and patients who would have been delighted to take the appointment lose out on the opportunity to get treated faster.

“Our patients have really had a positive response to Luma Health’s Automated Waitlists.”

Melinda Peterson,Tahoe Fracture’s Office Manager

“As a practice, we struggled to fill appointment cancellations. And when we did, we found that patients would often be booked in with the incorrect provider or specialty for their requirement,” said Peterson. “Our patients have really had a positive response to Luma Health’s Automated Waitlists. Because we’re a large practice, cancellations happen all the time; Automated Waitlists notifies patients and gives them the ability to book an appropriate appointment as soon as someone cancels and the appointment time becomes available. Ultimately, patients often end up seeing their provider sooner and our practitioners avoid costly wasted time on their schedules.”

Automated Waitlists allows you to offer newly available appointments to one patient at a time, or on a first-come first-served basis. To see it in action, take a look at this video:

Communicating Appointment Scheduling Actions en Masse

From unexpected schedule changes, to patient referrals, to insurance coverage details, the need to reach out to patients is a regular occurrence. Managing these communications at scale, however, can be complicated. Many practices still use manual processes to connect with patients, spending valuable time playing phone tag with limited success.

“An off-site, practice-wide event meant that we had to cancel and reschedule an entire day’s worth of appointments; we see 200 to 300 patients each day, so you can imagine how challenging that was to manage, in addition to the 400-500 calls we take for appointment requests every day,” explained Peterson. “Luma Health’s Patient Outreach allows us to communicate at scale, so our patients can re-schedule their appointments at their convenience, know where their referral process stands, or understand what their out-of-pocket costs will be for a specific procedure.”

“Luma Health’s Patient Outreach allows us to communicate at scale, so our patients can re-schedule their appointments at their convenience, know where their referral process stands, or understand what their out-of-pocket costs will be for a specific procedure.”

Melinda Peterson,Tahoe Fracture’s Office Manager

Navigating the challenges associated with appointments — booking them in the first place, eliminating holes in scheduling, and managing appointment changes and statuses en masse — can be a substantial burden for practices attempting to manage each of these processes manually. Luma Health is designed by practitioners with the patient in mind, to simultaneously optimize care and revenue. 

If you need help streamlining your appointment processes, let us know. We’re here to help! 

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