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Managing Appointment Flow for COVID-19 Patients

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, front-line primary care services are facing an unprecedented surge in demand for services and patient care.  Managing this demand may feel like quite an undertaking for you and your Practice, however effective utilisation of your clinic’s Appointment Book may assist in Practice planning and forecasting of demand.

Appointment Book – Dedicated Resource Column

By creating a Resource column with a label such as ‘COVID-19’ in your Appointment Book, your Practice will be able to easily identify potentially infected patients at a glance. This method is also highly effective when creating ‘Fever Clinics’ in your Practice. A Resource column can be easily created by adding a new user to your Practice, selecting the ‘Resource’ user type, and ensuring the ‘Has Appointments’ option is selected. To enact this, book all appropriate patients into this column in your Appointment Book, then other practitioners in your clinic will be able to start consults and finalise visits for billings to be processed.  

Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Easily view demand per day by viewing the number of appointments in the column
  • Highly beneficial when creating a Fever Clinic in your Practice
  • Can be difficult to ascertain historic demand if Practices transfer appointments into their column for billing when finalising visits

Using Appointment Types

One other method of managing and measuring appointment flow within your Practice is to utilise specific appointment types when booking patients.  As part of the March 2020 revision data update, new item numbers for Medicare telehealth and telephone consults were added to Bp Premier, as well as a new appointment type named Telephone Appointment. 

Using this functionality in conjunction with the Telehealth Appointment type, and creation of a custom COVID-19 appointment type, are in-built features which could help your Practice identify at-risk patients.

Another Bp Premier feature that will provide additional insight is the running of reports from the Appointments category.  This report will show historical trends in demand, including peaks and troughs for each appointment type, which could be useful for anticipating future trends in demand.  Custom appointment types can be added by accessing your Configuration settings, which are located within the Lists component.

Pros and Cons

  • Easily identify trends in historic demand per day by running an Appointments report
  • Avoid overbooking practitioners by booking patients directly into their usual sessions in the Appointment Book
  • May be challenging to accurately triage over the phone
  • May be challenging to ensure consistency amongst a large team when booking these appointment types

These are just two methods that may assist you in monitoring the flow of patients through your practice during these unprecedented times.  For information or more ideas on workflows, access the Knowledge Base from within Bp Premier and search for ‘COVID-19’.

Authored by:
Rebecca Bland
Training & Deployment Specialist at Best Practice Software