How to Make Outpatient Scheduling More Efficient

An appointment with my dermatologist—that’s who I’m waiting for.

I called my dermatologist’s office to make an appointment for a routine body check, hoping to get an appointment in a week or two.

“A week or two? The next available appointment is in three months. Which day works best for you?”

“But… I don’t know what my schedule will be in three months. ”

“Perfect… we’ll just schedule you in whenever then.”

That’s three months between scheduling my appointment to my actual appointment date, what’s known as a lead time. You likely understand the frustration of scheduling a timely appointment with a specialist.

I’m all about efficiency and effectiveness—I see my world through the lens of process maps. So, during my Master’s program in Healthcare Systems Engineering in 2019, my best friend and fellow Huddler+er, Jonny Blum, and I set out to understand why it takes so long to schedule an appointment with a specialist and what we can do about it.

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