Struggling GP Appointments?


 

medical-appointment-doctor-healthcare-40568

Working in a GP surgery the most complained about, and the most stressful thing is lack of GP appointments.

Patients get frustrated when they have to wait days and sometimes weeks for an appointment, and often the staff trying to deal with this often get verbal abuse from the frustrated patients.

There are only so many appointments available every day, and most surgeries will go over and above their daily appointments trying to accommodate patients that have to be seen that day.

Of course, every surgery had a large volume of DNA’s which means ‘Did not attend’ or ‘Did not Arrive’ and often these will be in fact be patients that have been fitted in the same day because they said that they were really poorly and needed to be seen that same day. Missed appointments hit every surgery and is a never-ending headache for the team.

There is a practice in Highcliffe in Dorset that have a great system that I am sure helps with their appointment system and its fairly simply and yet very effective.

They run a children’s clinic every afternoon from 4 – 4.30 Monday to Friday where parents can bring children up to the age of 16 and can be seen that same day without having to phone for an appointment. It is a walk-in clinic. No having to phone and get an urgent appointment which isn’t always possible.

In the knowledge that parents can get their children seen that same day will often have them often leaving it another day in the knowledge that if the child is still no better the following day they still have the choice to be seen, that alone takes off a lot of pressure off the parents and the appointments system and therefore staff too.

Parents are not taking up appointments throughout the day  thus leaving these for other patients.

I think this is a really good system, so all they have to do is find a way to reduce the large amount of missed appointments.

Have you got a system that works really well in your Surgery that helps with the daily appointments struggle.

Advertisements

2. DNA – The Reception Team Member


imagesCA3PIWKC

Referring back to my blog on DNA appointments I received a lovely reply from a Reception Team Member who works for a surgery that has approx 25,000 patients.

She too spoke of the frustration that DNA appointments can cause on a daily basis. She now had a system in place at the end of the day where she gets her team to first checks who made the appointment, and whether the patient has already booked. The team approach the patient in a positive manner (ie not guns blazing) as she agreed there could be an error on the surgery in not cancelling the appointment. People will also respond better when someone is approaching them in a positive manner.

The team asks the patients why they DNA their appointment, and in many cases they are extremely sorry for missing their appointments.

I think this is an excellent exercise as it can flag up several issues

  • It can let the patient know you are monitoring the appointments system – especially for those patients that just have not “bothered” to cancel their appointment.
  • It could flag up that patients perhaps are cancelling their appointments and they are not being cancelled on the system
  • Are appointments being booked too far in advance (ie 6 monthly BP checks, or diabetics checks – if so how could your surgery best deal with this.
  • Could highlight the importance of giving out appointment cards whenever possible.
  • Could highlight those few that are constantly not turning up for appointments.

When speaking to the patients regarding their DNA try to get the reasons why in a positive way and look at ways of improving the amount of DNA’s that your surgery has.

What would be helpful would be when you are talking to the patients if it is the first time you speak to them about their DNA you could explain that you are trying to look at the amount of DNA’s and at ways of decreasing these and their feedback on why they DNA would help with this exercise. Explain if patients cancel their unwanted appointments then this will free up appointments for other patients – which could be them. This was it will turn the telephone conversation into a positive one instead of a negative one.

But I am sure by getting a phone call regarding a DNA will certainly get a patient thinking more carefully next time if they simply do not want the appointment and hopefully they will phone to cancel the appointment.

Thank you for your feedback and hopefully this will help other surgeries in dealing with their DNA’s.

2. DNA – The Reception Team Member


imagesCA3PIWKC

Referring back to my blog on DNA appointments I received a lovely reply from a Reception Team Member who works for a surgery that has approx 25,000 patients.

She too spoke of the frustration that DNA appointments can cause on a daily basis. She now had a system in place at the end of the day where she gets her team to first checks who made the appointment, and whether the patient has already booked. The team approach the patient in a positive manner (ie not guns blazing) as she agreed there could be an error on the surgery in not cancelling the appointment. People will also respond better when someone is approaching them in a positive manner.

The team asks the patients why they DNA their appointment, and in many cases they are extremely sorry for missing their appointments.

I think this is an excellent exercise as it can flag up several issues

  • It can let the patient know you are monitoring the appointments system – especially for those patients that just have not “bothered” to cancel their appointment.
  • It could flag up that patients perhaps are cancelling their appointments and they are not being cancelled on the system
  • Are appointments being booked too far in advance (ie 6 monthly BP checks, or diabetics checks – if so how could your surgery best deal with this.
  • Could highlight the importance of giving out appointment cards whenever possible.
  • Could highlight those few that are constantly not turning up for appointments.

When speaking to the patients regarding their DNA try to get the reasons why in a positive way and look at ways of improving the amount of DNA’s that your surgery has.

What would be helpful would be when you are talking to the patients if it is the first time you speak to them about their DNA you could explain that you are trying to look at the amount of DNA’s and at ways of decreasing these and their feedback on why they DNA would help with this exercise. Explain if patients cancel their unwanted appointments then this will free up appointments for other patients – which could be them. This was it will turn the telephone conversation into a positive one instead of a negative one.

But I am sure getting a phone call regarding a DNA will certainly get a patient thinking more carefully next time if they simply do not want the appointment and hopefully they will phone to cancel the appointment.

Thank you for your feedback and hopefully this will help other surgeries in dealing with their DNA’s.

Appointments


When Making an Appointment

It is important when making an appointment for a patient that you are clear about the time, date and even the month.  Often hospital appointments can be months in
advance.

If the patient is booking their appointment in person at the reception desk always try and make an appointment convenient to the patient.

Often if you give an appointment and it’s not convenient that the patient will either not turn up or phone to cancel and re book. Try to get it right first time.

When you book an appointment at the reception desk always give the patient an appointment card – or put the appointment on a piece of paper.

Often patients will “insist” that they will remember their appointment but quite often they will end up phoning to check when it is – or worse still not turn up.

Always put on the appointment card

  • The day       (Monday)
  • The date     (16th)
  • The month  (September) and
  • The time      (11.00 am)
  • Who the appointment is with (Dr / Nurse / other)

If the patient is making the appointment over the telephone again please give clear instructions on when their appointment is. Again repeat as above.

If you don’t give the day  (Monday)  quite often people will get their date (16th) mixed up and often turn up the day before or after – this is quite a common thing especially some  elderly people.  People will remember a day rather than a date.

When giving an appointment over the telephone always speak slowly and clearly – the person on the other end of the phone might be writing it down.

At the end of the conversation ask if they are happy with the appointment – this will give them every opportunity if they are anyway unsure.

Every Doctors Surgery and Hospital have a high volume of DNA’s (Did not attend) each day and every day through the year. Therefore it is essential to try and avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding over appointments.

When making ANY appointment always make sure that you have the correct patient. You will often have patients have the same name or similar names. If unsure ask for DOB (date
of birth). But please remember confidentiality at all times.