Member appointments should be scheduled according to necessity of member needs (e.g.emergent, urgent, or routine/well care visits).
As a general rule, for routine and preventive care, members should receive an appointment within thirty (30) days of the scheduling date for (a) new patient visits, (b) routine physical exams, (c) health screenings, (d) lab tests (available through LabCorp only), and (e) x-rays. For urgent care, members should be scheduled to receive care from their Primary Care Physician within two (2) days.
Our members receive notice that they should anticipate waiting about fifteen (15) to forty-five (45) minutes for their appointment once they enter the provider’s waiting room. Members should be given advance notice if appointment dates/times need to be changed.
All Polk HealthCare Plan contracted physicians are to provide twenty-four (24) hour telephone access for the handling of after-hours inquiries, emergencies, and referral services to ensure continuity and/or coordination of care to Polk HealthCare Plan members.
Providers are required to provide telephone access twenty-four (24) hours a day seven (7) days a week, three hundred sixty-five (365) days a year to a licensed medical professional who is qualified to make any of the following recommendations:
• Treat pain or symptoms at home and come in to see the Primary Care Physician on the next day.
• Go to an urgent care center.
• Go to an emergency room.
Following are a few key tips to help manage patient scheduling and minimize delays and disruptions:
1. Develop practice policies regarding appointment scheduling, cancellations, and patient punctuality, and ensure that these policies are posted in high-traffic areas of the office, such as the waiting room and/or examination rooms.
2. When scheduling patients for their appointments remind them to be punctual, and take this opportunity to reiterate the policies of the practice regarding latecomers.
3. During those times of the day that patients are prone to arrive late (for example, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. due to rush-hour traffic), adjust appointment slots accordingly by adding a few extra minutes to each appointment.
4. Implement a “pre-appointment notification” policy. This usually takes place 24 hours prior to a patient’s appointment, and can take the form of a phone call or email reminder. This will provide the practice with the assurance that patients are aware of their appointment times, as well as offer patients an opportunity to notify the practice in advance if their appointment needs to be rescheduled.
5. Assign appointments appropriately by ensuring each staff member understands the time needed for the different types of appointments (for example, an appointment
for a physical differs from a regular appointment or an emergency appointment).
6. Stagger schedules by having patients arrive every 15 minutes, or straddle longer appointments with shorter ones so a tardy patient can be squeezed in if there is a gap