A medical scheduler creates a schedule for a medical practice or clinic, balancing the needs of patients with care providers to fit patients in and adjust the schedule as necessary to accommodate emergencies and other events. Medical schedulers work in the front office to interact with patients in person and also handle phone and email communications for the office. This work has no special requirements, but good people skills and computer literacy are usually preferred.
When a patient contacts a medical office for an appointment, the medical scheduler collects some basic information to determine the urgency of the issue and make an estimate about the length of time needed for the appointment. The scheduler also takes note of any procedures and equipment that may be needed, like an x-ray suite or a blood collection. With this information, the scheduler can offer the patient some appropriate appointment times and make the appointment.
Medical schedulers may send out reminder calls, emails, or cards to make sure patients know when to come in. They handle cancellations, rescheduling as appropriate. If a patient cancels with little notice, the medical scheduler may also make a note that the patient should be billed for the appointment, if this is part of the policy of the practice. In the event schedules start to run behind because of long appointments or technical problems, it is the job of the medical scheduler to get them back on track, moving appointments and taking other steps if necessary.
In some practices, a medical scheduler also pulls paperwork and forms to prepare for appointments, and may also lay out supplies. In others, this is the responsibility of nurses and other technicians who prepare the clinic for the day. The scheduler is also responsible for making sure adequate staff are available, and coordinates staff members to make them aware of the daily schedule. If a patient needs a blood draw, for instance, the medical scheduler makes sure the technicians have this in their schedule so they are ready when the patient arrives.
No particular training is necessary to work as a medical scheduler, although a short course in medical terminology and business practices can be helpful. Previous reception and public service experience is often helpful for applicants, and skills like bilingual abilities can potentially be useful on an application. The medical scheduler handles confidential information and may need to pass a background check or agree to sign paperwork indicating acceptance and understanding of office privacy policies.