Patient Scheduling. Most physicians think is it’s so simple. A patient calls the practice, talks to a scheduler who enters the information into the scheduling application and poof – it’s done. The reality is that medical scheduling is one of the most complicated and stressful positions in a medical practice with one of the highest turnover rates. Here is what really happens during – a day in the life of a scheduler…

A dynamic system of many moving parts

When a patient calls a clinic for an appointment, the medical scheduler first collects some basic information to determine the type of appointment, the urgency of the need, and the provide assigned to the particular patient.

Adding to that, the scheduler is taking note of any labs or testing that may be needed prior to the visit – and searching for open appointments that match the patient’s preferences and the provider’s availability.

Then they need to verify the patient’s insurance is valid and up to date. Any new information must be entered into the scheduling software. Finally, they summarize and review the appointment date and time with the patient and provide information about appointment needs and specific clinic policies. In our assessment, this can easily take over 7 minutes for each appointment scheduled.

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The toll it takes on your people, patients, and practice

In addition, many schedulers are also checking patients in or out – which takes them away from the phone and often results in unanswered calls and a backlog of voicemails.  This leads to the inevitable game of phone tag with the patients, who get frustrated.

The scheduler often also sends out reminder calls, emails, or cards to make sure patients are fully aware of their appointments. This is critical to avoid no-shows which are a major source of lost revenue for practices.

They also handle cancellations and reschedules which are becoming increasingly common these days. If a patient doesn’t show up, then the scheduler might also make a note that the patient should be billed for the appointment depending on the policy of the practice.  If office has a wait list, the scheduler will start calling patients on the wait list trying to fill the empty appointment slot.

In the event schedules start to run behind because of long appointments or technical problems, it is the job of the scheduler to get them back on track, moving appointments and taking other steps if necessary.

Then there are the days where a physician has an emergency and has a to take the day off. The scheduler must then contact each of the physician’s patients for that day to reschedule their appointments, all while doing the “normal” daily job.

“Our clinic has been using VoCall for the last six months. Since then we’ve seen a huge shift in morale. VoCall has reduced the burden of scheduling so now our teams can focus on more meaningful things.”

James Geyer, MD, Alabama Neurology & Sleep Medicine

Sound like a full day? If you think about it, schedulers are pivotal in keeping practices running smoothly. However, in many cases they are among the lowest paid employees in a medical practice. So it’s no surprise they have among the highest turnover rates in an office.

Every time an employee leaves, it costs money to replace them. To replace even an entry-level employee can cost up to 25 percent of an employee’s salary. Source

Here are some of the common complaints from schedulers.

  • Huge workload, Including too many phone calls, and not enough time to get the work done
  • Unnecessary phone calls and/or phone calls that should have been for someone else
  • Hard to make contact with patients to confirm changes
  • Voicemail messages take up so much time of the day
  • Dealing with complex insurance regulations, rules, and coverage
  • Expectations from management for everything to be done instantly and/or in real-time
  • Physician preferences as each physician wants things done differently
  • Extensive documentation requirements where everything must be documented and somethings multiple times in multiple places
  • Computer or technology issues
  • Not being trained well and having the information needed to do your job

Improve morale and reduce turnover using voice

Improving morale and retaining medical scheduling staff is vitally important to a practice. Many are now using technology to limit the burden of the “simple” repetitive tasks using technology. Systems voice technology like VoCall help ease the burden, by taking over the majority of rescheduling tasks These systems can also provide surge protection for the clinic when staff are out sick or otherwise unavailable.

Have questions?

Would you like to learn how VoCall can help unburden your staff and handle a large percentage of incoming phone calls? Click here and we’d be happy to learn more about your practice and share how VoCall could support your team.


VoCall is a scheduling voice assistant for medical practices that uses natural language voice technology to allow patients to easily call and manage their appointments over the phone.

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