Clinician to Clinician: 'Calendar' scheduling for OB patients

May 1, 2005

Tracking appointments for pregnant patients can be time-consuming, particularly when scheduling is done visit by visit.

Tracking appointments for pregnant patients can be time-consuming, particularly when scheduling is done visit by visit. That fact dawned on me several years ago, when I noticed there was always a line in the checkout area on the days I saw pregnant women and my staff told me it was because each patient had to check her calendar or even call home or work to confirm the next visit.

The solution? Scheduling all standard appointments at once, immediately after a woman's first prenatal visit. I space the visits based on the woman's due date and the standard of monthly appointments up to 32 weeks, then every 2 weeks to 36 weeks, and finally weekly up to 40 weeks. The appointment for routine ultrasound at 20 weeks also is noted, as is the last day I feel it is safe for the mother to travel. For those who will have repeat scheduled cesarean, the delivery date is selected and appointments for postoperative visits are noted.

We've found that our patients like this system because they know far in advance about appointments and can better avoid conflicts with vacations, meetings, etc. Many women tell us they share the "calendar" printout we give them with their bosses or put it on the family bulletin board or refrigerator so everyone affected by appointments knows what's going on.

CLINICIAN to CLINICIAN offers the hard-won wisdom and expertise of physicians "in the trenches." We’re looking for unusual case reports, anecdotes about innovative treatments, and practical solutions for professional problems from community physicians. Send your submission of 750 words or less to Editor in Chief Charles J. Lockwood, MD, by e-mail Dr.Lockwood@advanstar.com
fax (973-847-5340) or mail (5 Paragon Drive, Montvale, NJ 07645). All submissions are subject to peer review by the Contemporary OB/GYN Editorial Board. Nevertheless, the concepts discussed may be anecdotal in nature.