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New User - Front Desk Workflow

Once you've logged in and are familiar with the MacPractice layout, this guide will walk you through the general workflow for a front desk or scheduling user.

This article assumes that you have reviewed the Front Desk Setup guide, which covers configuration of each ability that will be referenced here. 

Every office's workflow is different, depending on a variety of factors from the actual physical flow through the office to the path through the software dependent on which features and abilities are purchased. This guide serves as a basic walkthrough of MacPractice for a front desk or a scheduling user. Consult with your administrator, Practice Consultant or MacPractice training team for one-on-one training to customize your workflow.

Scheduling Patients
Most front desk staff start their workflow in the Schedule. This works whether you gather your patient details before or after creating the appointment. You can find the patient in the Patient Selector prior to scheduling; or you can create your appointment then choose current or create a new patient from the appointment itself. 

Navigating
Click on the Schedule ability to get to the Schedule. You may also set up a preference to have this as your default view upon login. Use the small calendar in the sidebar to navigate and select other dates. The Today button and the Fit to View buttons on the bottom left corner of your schedule will navigate you back to today's date, or condense your current selections to display on a single window.

The main section the MacPractice window will display today's date or a selection of dates where you will review, create, and update appointments. One key item to remember is that where you are in the sidebar controls what you do in the detail area of the window. To work with the schedule, you must be in the Appointments folder of the sidebar. 

Creating Appointments 
Once you've navigated to the correct date, click where you would like the appointment to start and drag down til you've covered the length of the appointment. After selecting the appointment time, MacPractice will display the Appointment Detail Window. If you already had a patient selected, they will display here. If not, you will notice the required fields in red. Skip the Account Field and start with the last name; after entering the last name, use the tab button to enter in the first name. If this is for an existing patient, type in the name and press return, then select the name from the search results.

If this is a new patient, leave the Create New Patient checkbox selected and Save. You will notice that the Account Number is now filled automatically by MacPractice. You may now continue to fill in the remaining information such as date of birth. Phone numbers, Appointment type, status, and any additional notes about the appointment. Once you have entered in all of your information, click the save button on the bottom right to finalize your appointment. 

Updating Appointments
If the appointment time needs to be shortened or lengthened, simply hold your mouse on the bottom of the appointment. When the cursor changes you can click and drag up or down to change the appointment duration.

If the appointment needs to be changed to a new date or time, simply right click the appointment and select “cut”. Navigate to the new appointment date, right click when the appointment should begin and click paste. You may also drag the appointment to the new spot or move it to the To Reschedule node and then back out on a different date. You may leave the appointment in the reschedule node if the future date has not been decided; however, your office may have a different policy on rescheduled appointments and it is best to discuss this workflow with your manager.

Other Tips
The appointment type usually indicates why your patient will be in office. Set up the appointment display to indicate other information at a glance using a combination of color and text. Your office may have Transparencies set up to block out dates and times or to color-code your schedule for different types of appointments. Print your schedule simply using the File Menu > Print, or setting up a Print icon in your toolbar. 

Many other options can be a part of your workflow- everything from on-call lists to online scheduling. For an in-depth article on using the Schedule Ability, please see the How to Use the Schedule Ability

Checking Patients In
There are other tasks that you will complete upon checking a patient in for their visit. One task is to update the status of the appointment to reflect the current state. The right click menu will be used to make changes to existing appointments. Right Click on the appointment to quickly update the status such as Canceled, Missed, or Checked in.

The appointment detail window can also be access with the right click menu. Simply right click on the appointment, and select open. Here you can change any demographic information, appointment notes, or even take a payment. 

Your office may use the Clipboard application for the iPad. If this is your workflow, you will select the patient on the iPad and they will update their own demographic information as well as filling out registration forms. 

Adding Images and Documents to a Patient Record
Your office may have a webcam set up to take patient photos; click on the camera icon in the bottom left of your window. You can also scan in and save images as a part of the record. 

Select your patient in the patient selector and navigate to the Patient Attachment node in the Attachments/Images ability. Click the green plus to make a new record for the patient. Documents can be manually added to MacPractice two different ways. Select the browse button to use finder to search for your document. If the document can be easily accessed simply drag and drop the document into MacPractice.

It is important to label and organize your attachments as they are imported. You will notice that the associated patient will show at the top of the attachment. If you accidentally put the attachment on the wrong patient, a new one can be selected by using the small triangle.

If you have a scanner set up, you may choose to attach these electronically using an automatic import. This option would allow you to stay in another area of MacPractice while scanning. See the How to Set Up, Import and Organize Attachments/Images for more information. 

Using and Managing Orders
If your office uses Orders, you will want to check this tab in the Patient ability for any additional tasks required of this patient. 

Payments and Receipts
Every office is different, if your position does not include taking payments or printing statements, skip forward to the next section. Take with your office administrator about your workflow and duties. 

Enter Payments
You can enter payments through the Patient Ability or by double clicking on the appointment to open it into advanced view. Navigate to the Ledger tab, then find the Incident or visit in the ledger sidebar. Some offices ask the front desk person to also create the new Incident for the day's visit. Once you have created or selected the correct incident, you're ready to navigate more throughout the main detail window. 

The ledger is organized using drop down menus for most of the interaction. To enter items such as copays, select the Payments dropdown and choose the type of patient payment. A window will open where you can add more details, including the reference number and payment amount. Depending on your office's workflow, you will either enter the payment then press Tab and click the Save button; or you will enter the payment and apply it to an existing charge in the table below. Enter the portion of the payment that should go toward the charge in the Payment column, then press Save when done. 

Printing Statements/Receipts
In the ledger, navigate to the Print dropdown menu and choose the style of statement you need. Many offices choose to print Today's Transactions, the Patient Payment, or the Incident Statement to include just the small group of transactions that occurred with this visit. 

Use the Ledger Quick Start Guide for more extensive information. 

Checking Patients Out
At the end of the visit, you may complete these ledger tasks, print other forms, and create new appointments.

Printing Items for the Patient
Some offices print a Clinical Summary of the day's visit, which is typically done through the ledger after the insurance claim. However, this is also done through the Patient's Clinical tab. You can click on the patient name in the sidebar and drag it down to the Notes or Forms nodes. In these folders, you'll find a selection of templates to print for the patient, such as a Work Excuse or a Referral Letter. 

Next Appointment
Each office has a different way to communicate when the next appointment should be. Speak with your office administrator to determine your workflow. Many offices use the Recall or Follow Up feature to note when the next visit should be as well as having a tracking system if the appointment is not scheduled before that date. Some offices note this information in the provider's EMR or EHR form, and others will have an assistant schedule while the patient is in the room. 

Once all details have been completed for the patient, update the appointment status to Checked Out or another appropriate status. 

Batch Printing and Reports
As a front desk user, you may have other tasks that are a part of your daily or weekly workflow. Here are a couple of things that most offices do. 

Printing Notes or Forms for Batches of Patients
Some paperwork can be created in batches; for example, create all New Patient Welcome letters for the week in one batch instead of searching for each individual appointment. One simple way to do this in the Schedule is to select that timeframe in the small calendar. Check that no one is displaying in the Patient Selector, then choose the New Patients appointment node in the sidebar. This finds all patients during that time frame who are considered new (patients without charges.) Drag that node onto the Note template to generate all letters at once. 

Running Reports
You may also be in charge of running scheduling reports. Click on the Reports ability, then select the Scheduling node in the sidebar. The Appointments report and Resources reports are the most commonly used; however, there are several other reports available that are especially useful if you are searching for an appointment or reviewing work.

Use the filters and the date ranges in these reports to find the information that is relevant to your task. For example, you may use the filters to find out how many people had a New Patient appointment in the last year where the status is Missed or Canceled.  

Prefer Videos?
If you prefer to watch a video series on the areas of MacPractice which a Front Desk User would need to know, please review the following links:

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  • Avatar
    Harry Smith

    As far as rescheduling appointments, Using Cut and paste is not preferred, because it forces the user to deal with the appointment right then and there, and if I remember right, cutting does not flag the appointment as to Reschedule, but pasting does reschedule the appointment. It is more preferred to right click, and use to reschedule, reports are accurate and better overall workflow for appointments that can not be scheduled right then and there.