Optometric Management Tip # 97   -   Wednesday, November 26, 2003
The early and late arriver

Last week I wrote about the importance of staying on time for appointments, along with some tips on how to achieve this. But patients who arrive late... or even early... can really mess up your schedule.

As we analyze this practice management problem, I'd start by asking what your receptionist says to a patient who arrives early or late. If you aren't sure what she says, or if she simply says hello and checks the person in, that is a good place to start. It's important that all staff members who greet patients are well trained to handle the little details that keep a schedule on track. This may be a good topic for a special staff meeting. Here are some considerations: One final tip for improving the perception that your office is timely is for receptionists to keep patients informed. It is far better to tell a person in advance that the office is running a little behind schedule, and give an estimate of how long the wait is likely to be, rather than let them sit and stew about it. If true, you may want to state that the doctor had to care for an eye emergency, which caused the delay. Giving a waiting patient an interim update, along with an apology, shows that you care and have respect for the patient's time.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management