How to Control Your Appointment Book
Practice Management
Written by Tom Owen III   
Sunday, 18 December 2011 00:32 Read : 1818 times

ne subject that tends to get overlooked when it comes to the overall management of a chiropractic practice is simple appointment book control. A lot of doctors haven’t learned that there needs to be a certain rhyme and reason to every minute that is controlled by the appointment book for the practice. Because really, when it boils down to it, there’s only so much time in a day. If that time is not managed properly then it’s going to lead to frustration, distress, and ultimately, failure.
appointmentbookDon’t allow patients to come and go as they please. Schedule them. When you allow the patients to control your schedule, you’ll have a day like this: You’ve got four regular people that show up for their regular care, and then a new patient shows up and waits for an hour and a half to be processed because you weren’t expecting two of the four regular patients, and both the new patient, the regular patients, and the doctor just end up being stressed and frustrated. It just leads to a big break down in efficiency and stress that doesn’t need to occur.
One way to fix that would be something as simple as cluster booking. Cluster booking is essentially blocking time throughout the day where the CA, the chiropractic assistant, and/or the staff know they can’t book any new patients. That two and a half hours or hour and a half or whatever it may be is only to see patient visits for regular care.
Then there will be blocks of time where you’re only going to see report of findings. So if you need to fit in your report of findings, it helps you get into a groove. Also, you’re not bouncing around. You’re able to focus on the patients at hand. It really helps with the efficiency and the effectiveness of what you’re trying to communicate to the patients.
Here’s another point that’s often overlooked. This helps reduce missed appointments. If someone calls and cancels, are they rescheduled for the appointment that was missed? In other words, if they were on some type of care plan where they were scheduled to be seen three times that week but they call on Monday and cancel do you just say, “Okay, we’ll see you on Wednesday.” If so, you’ve just missed that appointment that was originally scheduled in the care plan. So that’s not a rescheduled, that’s just a missed appointment.
A lot of doctors think, well, I had 25 visits scheduled today and 24 of them showed, so we did pretty good. Well, if that was the case, in most chiropractic offices that’s not too bad. However, if they have 25 scheduled, had four missed appointments, and had five drop-ins there is a good indication that there is a problem with appointment book control.
Just on the missed appointments, forget the drop-ins for a moment, just on the missed appointments alone, do you know that if you have one missed appointment a day and you do that for a year’s time that’s over $10,000 you’ve lost? So when the appointment book is mismanaged, and even down to one missed appointment a day, that’s going to lead to dramatic loss of profits and productivity.

When I ask doctors how many additional patient visits they would like to be able to see in a day, effectively and efficiently, with low stress, most doctors will say somewhere around 20 more patients a day.
However, if it takes you 20 minutes to see a patient visit, 30 minutes to do a report of findings, a full hour to process a new patient, then you’re taking up the time in that day that you could be seeing additional patients. There is only so much time in a day, and if you keep running your practice in an inefficient manner, how are you ever going to squeeze 20 more people into your schedule?
Until you can better manage your schedule, the day that you’re going to squeeze 20 more people in is never going to come. Because that’s a stress point. And you cannot outgrow a stress point. It can’t be done until you address it. All of those inefficiencies lead to a “friendship practice” that so many doctors have. Friendship practices are those that allow the patients to come and go when they what to. Patients dictate the care, not the doctor. There’s no respect.
Until you learn to manage the business that you already have, you’re going to be constantly looking for new business. Think about that for a second. If we’re losing business, the very business that we’ve already spent a certain amount of money and time to get into our office, if we mismanage that, then we’re going to be seeking out new business before we really need it. Pay attention to the appointment book and determine to become more effective and efficient in your practice.

by Tom Owen III, and Todd Osborne, D.C.
Tom Owen III -

Tom Owen III, President of Affordable Managing Consulting, lectures extensively from coast-to-coast to thousands of chiropractors and students annually. He is the author of Chiropractic from a Business Man’s Perspective, and has spent the last 25 years in the day-to-day trenches of the chiropractic profession. He lives by his quote that “In the end, all that is left are the lives we’ve touched and to what extent they were changed.”


More articles by this author

Five Ways to Market Your Chiropractic PracticeFive Ways to Market Your Chiropractic Practice
Are you looking for new ways to market your chiropractic business? Have you tried traditional methods but have not seen...
Five Ways to Manage Clinics that Have Several EmployeesFive Ways to Manage Clinics that Have Several Employees
It is important to be proactive rather than reactive when addressing potential problems within your practice that occur when more...
How to Develop an Entrepreneurial MindsetHow to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset
When you first envisioned yourself as a chiropractor, you were probably focused on the opportunity to help people who were...
Small Business Strategy: 4 Vital Tips for SuccessSmall Business Strategy: 4 Vital Tips for Success
Much hard work goes into beginning a new business, and we all know that blood, sweat, and tears are the...
What Does It Take to Succeed as an Entrepreneur?What Does It Take to Succeed as an Entrepreneur?
Making the decision to open your own chiropractic practice can be both exciting and terrifying. First of all, congratulations on...
Why Self-Development is Crucial  for the Entrepreneurial ChiropractorWhy Self-Development is Crucial for the Entrepreneurial Chiropractor
Chiropractors are often considered to be true entrepreneurs. This is because they often graduate from their educational program and immediately...
How to Raise Your Practice ExpectationsHow to Raise Your Practice Expectations
Surprisingly, many chiropractors do not know that the success or failure of their practice first starts in the mind. Even...
Why Chiropractors Need a Coach to SucceedWhy Chiropractors Need a Coach to Succeed
Although chiropractors are generally hardworking, dedicated professionals who strive to correct subluxations in order to benefit the overall well-being of...
User Rating: / 0
TAC Cover
TCA Cover
BL Cover
Buyers Guide

Click on image above
to view the
Digital Edition






TAC Publications

The American Chiropractor Magazine: Digital Issues | Past Issues | Buyer's Guide


More Information

TAC Editorial: About | Circulation | Contact

Sales: Advertising | Subscriptions | Media Kit