Most diagnostic imaging centers have complex workflows and processes when it comes to patient scheduling and intake. They must navigate the complexities of scheduling multiple imaging modalities and coordinating with various healthcare providers, while also providing efficient, accurate, and timely services to ensure patient satisfaction.

Given the importance of diagnostic imaging in healthcare, practices need a comprehensive framework and strategy to optimize the intake and scheduling process. Streamlining patient scheduling and intake workflows not only reduces costs and manual data entry but also improves patient satisfaction in diagnostic imaging centers.

But before we get into actionable strategies to streamline these processes with modern workflow solutions, let’s start by reviewing some of the greatest scheduling and intake challenges diagnostic imaging centers need to overcome.

Top Scheduling and Intake Challenges at Diagnostic Imaging Centers

While practices may be facing many challenges to growth and profitability, here are some of the greatest hindrances within scheduling and intake.

1. Patient No-Shows

Patient no-shows can be a significant problem for diagnostic imaging centers, and this is especially true in the case of appointments that require a significant amount of time or resources, such as CT scans and MRIs. No-shows can lead to lost revenue, wasted resources, and reduced patient satisfaction.

Patient no-shows may seem minor, but they certainly add up operationally and financially. In fact, a no-show comes with an overwhelming cost for radiology practices. On average, appointment no-shows can cost a radiology practice $1 million yearly. Studies have discovered the following regarding patient no-shows in radiology centers:

  • Uncaptured revenue can reach up to $15,000/year for each missed breast ultrasound appointment
  • Uncaptured revenue can reach up to $350,000/year for mammography
  • Brain MRIs, abdomen ultrasounds, and mammogram screenings all exceed $100,000 of uncaptured revenue yearly
  • Uncaptured annual revenue for radiology centers is an estimated $700,000 based only on the exams listed above

And radiology practices aren’t the only medical discipline trying to remedy this challenge. As a whole, medical practices reach an uncaptured revenue of $150 billion yearly.

2. Manual Intake and Business Processes

Manual intake and other operational workflows leave patients and practice staff unhappy. Yet so many imaging centers rely on them to function.

Manual processes create even more challenges for diagnostic imaging centers, including:

  • Frequent scheduling conflicts
  • Costly human errors
  • More time spent on paperwork than patients
  • Miscommunication regarding exam instructions
  • Delayed verifications and payment receipt
  • Poor patient and referring physician experiences
  • High staff turnover and lengthy employee onboarding times

3. Printed Paperwork and Faxes

Many diagnostic imaging centers still rely on outdated, printed paperwork and faxes for patient scheduling and intake. Paper-based workflows are time-consuming, inefficient, costly, and labor-intensive.

Paper documents, especially those that need to be physically filled out in waiting rooms, dramatically slow down intake, creating longer wait times and compromising the quality of your patient care.

4. Poorly Optimized Equipment Utilization

Many centers struggle to balance over and under-utilization. Improper scheduling that does not maximize and optimize equipment causes inefficiencies, wasted resources, excessive equipment downtime, and missed opportunities.

And when you’re managing scheduling for multiple centers, the challenge to optimize scheduling with utilization also in mind is even greater.

5. Inability to Self-Schedule

Even though self-scheduling is more convenient for patients and practices, many diagnostic imaging centers do not have an intelligent enough scheduling system to allow patients to schedule their own appointments. This continues the vicious cycle that leads to patient no-shows and adds to the burden on administrative staff.

Strategies to Streamline Scheduling Processes at Your Practice

Despite the challenges associated with scheduling processes, diagnostic imaging centers have options to streamline patient scheduling and intake.

1. Enable Patient Self-Scheduling

Enabling self-scheduling is one of the most effective ways to streamline patient scheduling and intake. Empower patients to self-schedule their appointments and confirm them how they prefer with options through text messages, patient portals, and online chats.

With self-scheduling, patients can quickly book their appointments online anytime, day or night. This process eliminates the need for phone calls to the imaging center staff and reduces the administrative workload (and subsequent costs) associated with patient scheduling. Self-scheduling also helps healthcare practices generate a significant number of finalized appointments that patients show up for.

Advanced solutions with rule-based scheduling allow patients to select appointment times, locations, and providers without the operational fears of patients scheduling at inopportune times, or complex exam types that need more advanced notice or instructions. And if they need to reschedule or cancel, the process is quick and simple.

With the right radiology workflow solutions, self-scheduling can significantly improve practice efficiency, profits, and patient experiences.

2. Schedule From Multiple Sources

Scheduling is less complicated when practices and patients can schedule from numerous sources. While patient self-scheduling is essential to increase appointments and reduce overhead, your center will benefit most by implementing a solution that supports other sources. These sources include:

  • Walk-in appointments
  • Electronic health record (EHR) orders
  • Physician portals
  • Robocalls
  • Online chat
  • Mobile messaging

The more sources you offer patients and physicians for self-scheduling, the more likely they are to do it themselves.

3. Minimize Patient No-Shows with Waitlist Management

Implementing a scheduling system that includes enhanced waitlist capabilities allows you to fully utilize your staff and locations. An automated waitlist helps ensure that all appointment slots are filled without compromising the existing scheduling process. Waitlist patients should already be authorized and sorted in priority order based on who is most likely available to come in and fill a last-minute opening.

4. Digitize Pre-Registration Workflows

Another way to streamline patient scheduling and intake is to digitize pre-registration workflows. With advanced digital pre-registration, patients can complete the necessary paperwork online or from their mobile phones, eliminating typical arrival bottlenecks like manual forms, check-in clipboards, and long wait times.

By implementing an innovative intake workflow into practice operations, imaging centers can eliminate the bulk of intake challenges. Completed pre-registration paperwork can be automatically attached to a patient’s record, along with essential documents like insurance cards and IDs.

5. Empower Patients Through Patient Engagement Solutions

You shouldn’t feel forced to choose between practice operations and patient experiences, rather the improvement of one, should automatically result in the improvement of the other. With mobile-optimized patient engagement solutions, you can enhance and simplify your patient scheduling and intake processes simultaneously. With an easily-accessible, browser-based solution, patients can not only complete self-scheduling and intake forms, but can also review special exam instructions, see patient estimations, pay bills, access results, and communicate with a center staff member if necessary, all from their phone without the need to download another mobile app.

Finding An All-in-One Solution to Digitize Patient Scheduling and Intake

Diagnostic imaging centers are often at the mercy of their patient scheduling systems. They’re vital for keeping practices functioning but they require an inordinate amount of coordination, manual labor, and log ins to complete what should be simple tasks.

But what if we told you that you don’t have to settle for what’s become industry standard?

Your practice can (and should):

  • Reduce patient no-shows and late arrivals
  • Empower patients to self-schedule and re-schedule
  • Recapture missed revenue opportunities with a comprehensive waitlist
  • Eliminate paper-based workflows
  • Reduce arrival bottlenecks and wait times
  • Increase patient satisfaction
  • Reduce inefficiencies and onboarding times
  • Minimize costs while maximizing appointment volume

All in a single solution. Sounds impossible? Not with AbbaDox.

AbbaDox offers imaging centers a single log-in powerhouse of radiology workflow solutions that optimize patient scheduling and intake while eliminating manual processes and overwhelm from your administrative staff.

AbbaDox CareFlow goes beyond the box, consistently innovating based on real-world use cases from radiology practices around the country.

Our automated radiology workflow solutions are integral to radiology operations and patient experiences across the country. Get started by contacting our team and requesting a personalized demo from the experts at AbbaDox.