Schedule Optimization: Overbooking

What is overbooking?

Overbooking is a strategy where practices intentionally book more patients than they can realistically accommodate in a given period of time. The idea behind overbooking is to ensure that healthcare providers have a full schedule and maximize their efficiency by minimizing the time slots where they have no appointments or cancellations. For practices with high no show rates, overbooking is essential to maintaining financial sustainability.

How do practices overbook today?

  1. 12% do not overbook because they have a low no show rate and don't have a need
  2. 44% do not overbook because their providers do not want it
  3. 9% overbook at recurring times in the week (e.g., Monday morning)
  4. 15% overbook when a patient books that they know - from experience - frequently no shows
  5. 20% strategically overbook in slots where scheduled patients are predicted to no show

What is the most effective overbooking strategy?

The most effective strategy is to overbook additional patients in slots where scheduled patients are predicted to no show.

Key reasons

  1. For almost all practices, overbooking is key to ensuring an efficient use of resources 
  2. Overbooking can often cause “scheduling conflicts”
  3. Overbooking can reduce lead times and allow patients to get off the waitlist
  4. Strategic overbooking reduces scheduling conflicts and increases provider buy-in of technique

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