Is overbooking right for your practice?

April 1, 2008

While overbooking patients may sound like an awful way to run a practice, researchers from the University of Colorado have found that this scheduling method could actually increase doctors' productivity and reduce the chance of idle time caused by patients who don't show up for their appointments.

While overbooking patients may sound like an awful way to run a practice, researchers from the University of Colorado have found that this scheduling method could actually increase doctors' productivity and reduce the chance of idle time caused by patients who don't show up for their appointments. Overbooking is already a tactic used by practices when they "squeeze in" patients, shorten the time between visits, or increase the number of appointments during a particular time of day.

But how do you know if overbooking is right for your practice? You'll have to weigh the benefit (increased productivity and capacity) against the risks (longer patient wait times and overtime for the doctor). The researchers also developed a computerized simulation tool to determine whether a practice would benefit from overbooking. In general, they found that large, busy practices with a high-percentage of no-shows and specialized practices with little competition would benefit most from overbooking. In contrast, small practices that have a low-percentage of no-shows and place more value on keeping wait times short would not likely benefit from this model, reported American Medical News (2/4/2008).