Scheduling patients is no joke. There are so many things to consider: insurance, conditions, appointment openings, etc. And things get complicated quickly! And that can make your call center reps’ jobs extra stressful.

When a rep needs to learn how to do 50 or even hundreds of different scheduling appointments, it can be difficult for them to remember everything they need to do. It’s easy for them to miss a step or make mistakes.

And these are the things that keep you up at night. Or, at least, you know if you could just improve your scheduling process, then quality scores would be where they need to be and you’d be less stressed on the job.

Scheduling appointments doesn’t need to be so difficult. As the Head Consultant at ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company that supports workflow learning and documenting procedures — I’ve helped companies simplify the scheduling process.

From working with call centers that schedule appointments for a variety of medical professionals, I’ve gathered these eight techniques on how to make it easier for your reps to schedule patients.

Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on July 28th, 2021

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8 Techniques to Make Scheduling Healthcare Appointments Easier In Your Call Center

1. Make a clear call flow for taking the call

Design a clear patient scheduling workflow that your reps can easily follow while they are on a call.

How will you identify the patient and the reason for calling? Write an intake script that is easy for your reps to follow while they are on the phone. Clearly identify the steps for what needs to be done.

🔍 Related: How to Write an Intake Script for Scheduling Patients (6 Tips)

2. Have reps specialize

There are different ways to specialize in your office. You could assign reps to specific regions or offices or different types of appointments.

For example, if your call center schedules patients for 30 offices and those offices are all unique, assign reps to specific offices so they become familiar with the nuances.

On the other hand, if you schedule patients for 30 offices and they are all similar, you can assign reps to take specific types of appointments. So you could assign some reps to specialize in setting up new appointments while another group handles procedures or rescheduled appointments.

Another option is you could divide up assignments according to the difficulty of the call.

3. Determine difficulty levels for different types of calls

Not all calls are created equal. Some calls will be straightforward to handle while you’ll run into many roadblocks on other calls.

Determine “Easy,” “Medium” and “Difficult” appointments to schedule. You determine the level of a call by walking through the process and figuring out how complex the call is. Identify how many steps there are and how many variables are introduced.

Are there a lot of variables? When a rep is on a call, can a call go in multiple directions?


An easy-level call won’t have many variables. It is a straightforward process that doesn’t take long to complete. Whereas a medium-level call would have a few variables, but it is still easily managed. It isn’t too confusing to figure out and follow the procedure.

Difficult-level calls have multiple variables. They are the definition of a decision tree where the caller’s answer could set your rep off in multiple directions. These complex procedures require detailed explanations to help a rep complete a call.

Note: One downfall of having the same reps handling the most difficult calls all day, every day is that they get burnt out faster.

4. Use Interactive Voice Response

Now that you know the level of difficulty of each call, you can determine how you will distribute the calls as they come in. If you have specialized reps, you don’t want everyone taking the incoming calls. That’s an added step for each of your specialized agents.

Instead, use IVR (Interactive Voice Response) or a digital receptionist to identify if the appointment will be “easy,” “medium,” or “difficult” to schedule. This allows for you to identify the caller based on some criteria and send them to a specialized rep who can best help them.

Alternatively, you could have one person filtering people to the right reps.

Whether you use an IVR or specialized team to take and distribute incoming calls, you’ll want an intake script that can quickly narrow down the purpose of the call.

5. Start easy, then add more complex appointments

As your reps become more comfortable in their specialized roles, they may feel comfortable learning how to handle other types of calls. You’ll want to have a learning plan that gradually cross-trains your new hires on all of your procedures.

If you can identify the complexity of the appointments, then you can categorize them and assign them to reps as part of a learning program. Your cross-training plan could look something like this:

  • Month 1 - New reps take “easy” calls
  • Month 2 - New reps take “medium” calls
  • Month 3 - New reps take “difficult” calls

This allows you to get new reps taking calls while they are still learning. Instead of having them in training for four weeks, you can have them in training for 2-3 days and then begin taking “easy” calls.

After one month, provide another day or two of training to learn “medium” calls. Then, after another month do one or two more days of training to learn “difficult” calls.

With only 5-8 days of actual training, reps will be able to handle any call. This reduces the cost of hiring new reps and gives them a better overall experience.

6. Identify callers’ questions and provide resources for your reps

Identify the questions reps are being asked on their calls. Then provide resources that help reps respond to those specific questions.

If reps are being asked, “Does Dr. ____ take ____ insurance?” Provide a resource that helps reps quickly determine the answer. Employees can use these resources in the workflow. Some of those resources could include:

  • Decisions trees
  • Excel documents
  • Procedures are written in Word
  • Knowledge base articles
  • Workflow articles

Note: Some resources are easier to follow than others.

🔍 Related: What is Workflow Learning? And What Tools Do You Need to Use it?

7. Have reps use your procedures on EVERY call

Expect reps to use your procedure and information resources for EVERY call, and make sure those resources are always up to date.

Why should your reps use your procedures every time they are on a call? It’s because your procedures are always changing.

Most companies have minor tweaks to their procedures or reference materials (e.g. insurances, transfer numbers, availability of appointments) every week. Reps can’t remember all the changes.

For each call, your reps should use your resources so that they are using the latest and greatest information.

8. Teach reps how to control the call

It’s easy to get off track when patients control a call and start talking about random things. Teach reps how to respectfully listen and bring the caller back.

Controlling the call is critical. If a caller is in charge of leading the conversation, then the discussion can jump all over the place and take more time. If patients rattle off information in any old order, then reps may miss a step.

It makes it more difficult for reps to capture the information they need to schedule an appointment.

Reps should be able to take the caller through the appropriate steps in the correct order. It takes less time and allows the rep to streamline the call.

Simplify the scheduling process with documented procedures

There are multiple ways that a call can go when patients call to schedule a healthcare appointment. When you use these tips, your reps will better be able to manage the variety of scenarios they can encounter on the job.

Ideally, you will have help guides and other resources available for your reps so that they can have support when they need it.

At ScreenSteps, our software makes it fast and easy to document your procedures. And, with the ScreenSteps software, updating your ever-changing help guides can take minutes instead of hours. The key is our easy-to-use content creation tools.

Having trouble determining what resources to write to make scheduling appointments easier? One way to figure out which procedures to write is by writing down the questions your callers ask during a week.

Download this free worksheet to help you capture what types of calls you are receiving so that you can plan to document procedures. This worksheet will help you determine what type of guide you should create. Then these resources will help your reps while they are on calls.

Download Guide-Planning Worksheet

About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success