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July 10, 2018
April 19, 2017

Maximize Your Time with Effective Scheduling Part 2: A Case Study

Mark Opperman

Last month, I reviewed some things you should consider when determining your doctors’ office hour and surgery schedule and what you can do to maximize doctors’ time in the practice. Now, in part two of my article, we will put these concepts into action.

In part one, I referenced a veterinary hospital that had spread out their office hour and surgery schedule to the point that it was negatively impacting the practice. Again, this practice had a state-of-the-art facility with four exam rooms, was open seven days a week, and offered evening hours, but it was struggling financially. 

Now let’s use this practice as a real-life case study and see what effect the veterinarians’ schedule may be having on this practice. Prior to my consultation, the veterinarians’ office hour and surgery schedule looked like the following:

Key:  (S) = Surgery; * = Doctors rotate to work one or two Saturdays/Sundays out of every four weeks

The schedule above has veterinarians rotating weekends so that there is one doctor scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday each week. At the same time, the practice’s hours of operation were as follows: 

Veterinarian hours of operation prior to consult.

In further analyzing the schedule above, we can see there is a total of 86 contact hours per week for our veterinarians and these hours are spread over the 63 hours per week that the practice is open. It is clear that the practice is not using their facility to near its capacity. Also, by spreading out their office hours and surgery, the practice further increases overhead costs and support staff costs.

In discussing this with the practice owner, the decision was made to revise the practice’s office hour and surgery schedule. Following is the new office hour and surgery schedule adopted by the practice, as well as their hours of operation:

Key:  (S) = Surgery; * = Doctors rotate to work two out of every three Saturdays
Veterinarian hours of operation upon consult.

This schedule also has doctors rotating weekends, but now doctors work two weeks out of three and are off every third Saturday. Also, there are two doctors working Saturdays instead of one doctor.

With this schedule, there are a total of 96 contact hours that cover 55 hours per week.  So we have ten more doctor-client contact hours while we have eight less operating hours per week.  Over a course of one year, this would total 520 more client contact hours. If we figure doctor production at $233 an hour, this would equal $121,160 more dollars per year. At the same time, over the course of the year, the practice would be open 416 fewer hours. That would mean that our overhead costs would likely be reduced, while our income greatly increased. The net result is greater profitability and a practice that is thriving instead of struggling financially.

By analyzing these two office hour and surgery schedules, you can further ascertain that, on the second schedule, we are better using our physical facility. We are now seeing appointments on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 in the morning till 8:00 in the evening. We can even have appointments during lunch since one doctor works from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and takes a later dinner break. And again, we now have two doctors working Saturdays, and we have discontinued Sunday hours. This schedule would even allow for one doctor to be scheduled for a management day (although this is not shown on the schedule).

As you can see by our example, your office hour and surgery schedule, as well as your hours of operation, are critical to the profitability of your practice. Are you stretching out your doctors and health care team and therefore reducing your profitability, or are you scheduling everyone effectively? If your doctors are not productive the majority of the time they are scheduled within the practice, now would be a great time to examine your own office hour and surgery schedule and find out if you are practicing harder or if you are practicing smarter.

Another tool you can use to maximize your time and create a better system of scheduling is our Team Scheduling Software created by our team for yours.

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