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Prepare your practice for the influx in appointment scheduling this flu season

Woman under the weather on the couch with flu.

As autumn-lovers happily set up their carefully selected gourds, cinnamon-scented pine cones, and other fall decor, many will also be pulling out the jumbo tissue boxes, cough drops, and cold and flu medicines from last year’s supply — or they’ll be heading to the pharmacy to reload the arsenal. America’s favorite season can also be one of the most dreaded times of year, perpetually associated with the impending arrival of illnesses we all try to avoid. 

While it’s too soon to tell if reports of flu intensity in the Southern Hemisphere will become what the Northern Hemisphere should expect this year, the fact remains: it’s flu season. Whether your patients are taking precautions or looking for resolutions, you’re going to see a lot of them this season and deep into the winter months. 

In this blog we’ll help you prepare your practice for the influx in patient demand and increase in appointment scheduling.

Before patients start scheduling appointments, take these steps to get ahead  

With every year that passes, effectively preparing for the surge in patient visits during flu season certainly has its challenges. But with the right resources in place, you can get your practice well-prepared for what’s to come. 

Below are strategies to help you better plan for and manage patient demand this flu season.

Lean into online appointment scheduling

As the stacking of your schedule begins, one of the best ways to lighten the administrative workload of your practice — and also make it easier on your patients — is to implement and encourage online appointment scheduling. By moving the majority of your scheduling from phone calls and putting it in the hands of your patients through your website or app, your team can easily streamline your practice’s scheduling management. Appointments will get scheduled and your team will only spend a fraction of the time managing the process. 

Giving your patients the control to make appointments and submit changes on their own time — with 24/7 access — offers a better, more convenient experience than having to deal with long hold times and count on call-backs. When selecting your ideal healthcare appointment scheduling software, look for one that offers a user-friendly interface for your patients, so they can easily view availability of your practice by location, time, and appointment type.

Prioritize your practice’s time management 

As you start to save time on scheduling appointments with online tools, further harness the ways in which you can automate other administrative tasks, too — like handling appointment reminders. Take the responsibility of calling every patient with an upcoming appointment off of your team’s plate and lean into a healthcare scheduling software that offers capabilities like automated email and text reminders. 

By offloading manual admin tasks and freeing up time for your team, together you can more readily focus on patient needs, giving them the time and attention they deserve. When looking for the right healthcare scheduling software\, also consider one that enables seamless integration with your EMR system, so you can avoid dealing with manual data entry and reconciliation.

Track trends for future forecasting 

As the flu season progresses further into the winter months — and with it, your busy schedule — you may have the opportunity to harness the value of the patient data collected throughout your hard work. Working with a healthcare scheduling software provider that also offers robust reporting can help you gain visibility into patient appointment history and cancellations. You can then leverage that historical data to generate insights and forecast future appointment trends. This will help you get a better handle on what to expect as your patients continue scheduling appointments, ultimately enabling you with information to optimize your preparations month after month.

Keep yourself and your team healthy

While you take care of the community around you this flu season, please don’t forget to also take care of yourself and your team members. Both your physical and mental wellness should be a top priority. Take seriously the simple actions of wearing a mask and keeping sanitizer stations full, as these small precautions may go a long way in keeping your practice healthy. 

Amidst the bustle, find time each morning to check in with yourself and your staff to see how things are going, how people are feeling, and where help could be shared. Pay attention to queues that could point to you getting dangerously rundown. Give breaks to those who need them and consider your options if you realize outside support is necessary — this could entail hiring additional temporary team members or leaning on staffing agencies to get you through the season.

Patient receiving flu vaccine with others waiting to receive their vaccine in the background.

Look for a software that offers more than appointment scheduling

As with all the others before it, this flu season will likely be a busy one but, as always — it will eventually be behind us and your commitment to care for your community will be evident as symptoms fade away. Until then, do your best to prepare for the uptick in patients scheduling appointments at your practice. Consider the strategies we’ve covered and evaluate your use of resources like an ideal healthcare appointment scheduling software. Just as you and your team handle a multitude of tasks throughout each day, so should your scheduling software. It should offer flexibility to meet your needs and the demands of your practice, especially during your busy seasons. It should also come with a level of support to help you get the most out of the tools available to you.

DaySmart Appointments is an easy-to-use healthcare and medical scheduling software designed to help you provide patients with a simple way to schedule appointments online — all while helping your team stay organized, work more efficiently, and use time more effectively. Nimble, robust, and streamlined, it could be the perfect match for what you’ll need this flu season and beyond. 

To discover if DaySmart Appointments is right for your practice, schedule a free demo.