Patient-led appointment scheduling
With regard to the provision of psychological treatment, the standard way of scheduling appointments is for the treatment provider to suggest a suitable protocol of appointment frequency and duration. Appointments are typically booked in a regular pattern occurring every week or every two weeks with the frequency being decreased by increasing the intervals between appointments as the treatment provider determines that the patient is progressing satisfactorily. There is compelling evidence, however, that patients prefer a variable schedule of appointment attendance and that, typically, they attend far fewer sessions than treatment providers expect them to attend. Most commonly, treatments are designed to be greater than ten sessions, yet patients, on average, attend between four and six appointments. Patient-led appointment scheduling is an alternative to the conventional approach to appointment scheduling which has had dramatic results on service capacity and the waiting times for patients to access services. The important features of patient-led appointment scheduling are outlined in this chapter along with the evidence supporting its implementation.