Today I had another terrific and busy day. I rounded at both hospitals and then arrived at the office just after nine to find my schedule delightfully full. I really got to test my new scheduling plan today and it worked well! The only time I got behind was when I had to take a phone call near the end of the day that took well over 15 minutes and put me back. I love my EMR, e-MDs. The degree of control I have over the schedule is unlike anything I have had before. I can make appointment durations as short as 5 minutes (for a child needing an ear recheck or vaccine only) or as long as an hour (for the new Downs Syndrome baby with the complex heart defect I will be seeing next Tuesday). Being able to massage and adjust and manipulate the schedule makes for a very smooth day. Sure there will be the surprise patient who calls claiming to have a cold (short visit) who actually is there to talk about his depression (really long visit) but in general, it will work very very well.
Many of you have asked if I will ever do walk in hours….I debated this long and hard. I had implemented the idea at my former practice and although it had its ups and downs and pros and cons, it met a real need and was very successful. The challenges were that the walk in hours were either empty or swamped and since I am on my own, I worry about both ends of that spectrum. For that reason, I have implemented what I have coined “Call ahead scheduling.” If you are up at 2 am with a sick infant or discover at 7 am your middle schooler has a bad stomach ache, you can call the office and leave a message and my staff will call you back between 8 and 830 and get you on the schedule in the morning. Never worry that your sick child will not be able to be seen. As the fall and winter illnesses evolve, I will be setting aside more time for these same day appointments and everyone will be seen who needs to be. Of course there may be times when you need to take your child to an urgent care or the ER but if the problem is one that can make it through the night, I will see your child the next morning, rest assured.
In order to have the scheduling continue to go so smoothly and run on time, it is really important that when you call to make a same day appointment for your child’s cold but you know you also want to address his depression or back pain or headaches or chronic stomach aches or ADD be sure to tell the scheduler about the more chronic issue so we can allot the correct amount of time. Also, if you want me to look at more than one child, even if it is just to ‘peek at her ears’ let my staff know. I expect many sick visit appointments will have an extra simple question or two added on but if the issues are many or long standing or complex, just let us know so we can continue to run smoothly. I love being able to see everyone AND run on time and I am sure you will appreciate that too!
Get your flu vaccine, call ahead for same day sick appointments and drink hot chocolate and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center