Issue #31—Surgical Schedule Management—The Often Underrated Key to Growth

We believe one of the best ways to achieve growth is also one of the more overlooked. Improving booking ratios, driving web leads, and offering new services are great ideas that also tend to overshadow simple improvements in logistics that can often create even better results. Indeed, avoiding moving cases, canceling overbooked days, and finding ways to fill under booked surgical days is prudent. Here are a few tips on how to maximize your surgical schedule and minimize lost opportunity.

Block Party

Start by blocking holidays, staff vacation days, and days the doctor will be out of the office. Doctors, make a point to immediately circulate emails to your staff every time you commit to speak at an event, schedule a vacation, or have a child’s recital.  Staff members, remember to ask every week or two in your team meeting if anybody, including the doctor, has added any vacation or days off.  Beyond minimizing frustrating last minute staff shortages and accidentally booking surgery while the doctor is out of the office, there is also a sense of calm and organization that will waft over the staff like a gentle morning breeze.

As an example, if you know the doctor is going to Cape Cod from August 6th -21st, block it out in the schedule, but also make a note that the weeks preceding and directly after the trip to Hyannis must be jam packed and all staff need to plan ahead with a strong cup of coffee and be ready to rock.

When Not Having Surgery Makes Cents

Now that the schedule is blocked and we have planned the days to avoid booking and which days to pack with patients, it is time for further schedule planning.  Have you made a plan for when the doctor is out of town?  Have you prepared an email blast promoting what you have planned for when the doctor is sailing around the tip of Montauk? Consider planning a non-surgical service or product promotion for the time the doctor will be away and promote it months prior using printed materials for the front desk to hand out, multiple email blasts, and online promotion. By doing so the office can still be working towards growth in the doctor’s absence.

Cover Your Butt

When you look at your annual calendar, we recommend identifying traditionally slow months and days (what we refer to as CYB days or Cover Your Butt days). A CYB day is a normally tough to fill day such as religious holidays, back-to-school days, and many times the day after a holiday (people usually want the day prior to the holiday in order to get the extra vacation days for healing). Star or highlight these dates so everyone in the office knows they are a priority to fill. Work with your staff on creative ways to fill these dates. Offer them early, prepare an email blast to patients advertising the dates, and be on the lookout for appropriate patients to fill them (i.e “anytime would be great” patients or international patients for the day after Thanksgiving). Offering a small discount is a good way to incentivize patients to book on those CYB days if necessary on short notice. Setting a sales contest is another way to help motivate the coordinators to fill those days and another way to keep those dates front-of-mind for the staff.

Identifying traditionally slower months, such as September for Plastic Surgeons or February for Orthodontists will help you manage both marketing efforts and price increases. Price increases are a great way to fill traditionally slower months and can free up the busier season to book even more patients (Click here to read our previous newsletter on The Power of the Price Increase).  We encourage offices to set at least one small price increase a year. If you plan that increase for the beginning of the month AFTER a traditionally slower month and positively promote it far in advance you can drive patients to fill those slower months. For example, if October is usually slow, plan the price increase for November 1st. If a patient says they want to hold off on a procedure, we recommend using a line similar to, “Sounds good. We are in no rush at all. In fact, we are not anticipating a price increase until November 1st. So we have plenty of time.” By informing the patient of the price increase in a nonchalant way, it builds urgency without being pushy, helping to drive the patient to book prior to the increase and helping to fill up the slower season.

Summarily, constant surgical schedule management takes work but pays off. When done on an annual, monthly, and weekly (or even daily) basis it can give the office a clearer and broader view of pitfalls to avoid, as well as opportunities upon which to capitalize. To learn more helpful tips from YellowTelescope visit or contact us as