STEPS to Care: Scheduling Client Meetings

Patient Navigators sometimes carry caseloads as large as 20 clients. Each of these clients has his or her own set of provider appointments, navigation sessions, and other meetings that the Patient Navigator must schedule, attend, and/or track. Careful documentation of client meetings can aid in tracking client progress, generating more detailed reports, and improving delivery of care. However, balancing the tracking and documentation of the schedules of a full client load while keeping up with in-person meetings and programmatic responsibilities can be a daunting process.

This topic focuses on the challenges of scheduling client meetings and appointments. To learn more about scheduling meetings with Care Team staff, view the Care Team Coordination topic page.

After reviewing scheduling information and resources below, you will know:

  • Best practices for scheduling patient navigation sessions that ensure all clients are seen in a timely manner and reporting requirements are met
  • The roles and responsibilities for scheduling and tracking client sessions
  • Strategies for facing common scheduling challenges

Scheduling Clients

In the following scheduling challenges videos, real Care Team members share some common challenges they face in scheduling meetings and some best practices and tips for efficient scheduling. These videos provide guidance for establishing scheduling procedures and can be used as a resource for all Care Team staff.

In the following videos, Patient Navigators, Care Coordinators, Program Directors, and primary care providers discuss:

  • Scheduling challenges and tips for working with clients
  • Best practices for working with Care Team staff
  • Challenges and tips for scheduling meetings with primary care providers

Using the Care Team for Scheduling Support

Common Challenges and Suggested Solutions

Patient Navigators and Care Coordinators may face several challenges in scheduling client meetings and ensuring that deadlines and reporting requirements are met.

challenges in scheduling client meetings
Common Challenges faced by Patient Navigators Possible Solutions
Keeping track of appointments and attendance records for all clients.

Patient Navigators may be responsible for up to 20 clients at a time, making it difficult to keep track of each client’s multiple appointments and follow up with each appointment to track attendance and fulfill reporting requirements.

  • Schedule in-person meetings with clients at the same time each week to maintain a more regular and predictable system.
  • Try to finalize each patient navigation schedule a week in advance.
  • Use a standardized system for documenting scheduled appointments for each client.
  • Adopt a protocol for following up regularly with client appointments that makes sense for your situation (for example, call appointment offices at the same time each day to follow up on client attendance).
Balancing in-person client care with other responsibilities of data entry and fulfilling reporting requirements.

In-person client meetings serve as one of the key strengths of STEPS. It can be difficult to balance this personal care with careful tracking and documentation of attendance and other data to meet reporting requirements.

  • Write things down immediately, including meeting notes, updated schedules, attendance, etc.
  • Set aside a buffer time before and/or after each scheduled patient navigation meeting to document notes and data.
challenges in scheduling client meetings
Common Challenges Faced by Care Coordinators Possible Solutions
Keeping a master schedule to monitor Patient Navigator schedules to ensure regular client attendance to medical appointments.

Care coordinators can be responsible for up to 7 Patient Navigators at a time. Care coordinators should know what each Patient Navigator’s schedule and clients’ schedules are for supervision, safety, and reporting purposes.

  • Use shared electronic documents to track Patient Navigator schedules and client appointment records. Make sure to adjust the privacy settings for the shared documents as required by your agency.
  • Use large poster-sized calendars in a shared private space to document.
  • Use color-coding or other formatting to quickly indicate different Patient Navigator schedules or different client appointments. Set up a system that works for your agency.
Scheduling client meetings on behalf of Patient Navigators.

Some agency Care Coordinators may be responsible for scheduling client meetings for their Patient Navigators. While this may help with keeping track of Patient Navigator schedules, it also introduces additional work and overhead.

  • Use shared electronic documents to create and edit Patient Navigator schedules and client appointment records. Make sure to adjust the privacy settings for the shared documents as required by your agency.
  • Use large poster-sized calendars in a shared private space to document schedules and upcoming appointments.
  • Set up a routine check-in or reminder system so that staff members know what their schedules are for each day and can share about any client scheduling needs.
Fulfilling final data entry and reporting requirements.

Care Coordinators often complete data entry and compile reports for partners and funders. To do so, Care Coordinators need to keep track of their Patient Navigators’ reporting requirements and data in addition to their own.

  • Write things down immediately, including meeting notes, updated schedules, attendance, etc.
  • Set aside a block of time each week, multiple days if necessary, to focus on documentation and follow up with Patient Navigators regarding any data or reporting requirements.
  • Schedule buffer time between when Patient Navigator reports are due to Care Coordinators and when the full reports are due to the corresponding agencies.
Keeping track of client referrals in and out of the STEPS program.

Care Coordinators are responsible for both client intake from referral sources as well as outgoing client referrals to other agencies.

  • Set up a secure electronic or paper filing system to store incoming and outgoing referral data and forms.
  • Use color-coding or other formatting to quickly indicate different types of referrals as needed for your agency

Scheduling Roles and Responsibilities

STEPS Care Team members are responsible for a variety of scheduling tasks for client meetings and appointments.

Patient Navigators

  • Schedule, track, and report patient navigation sessions and appointments with medical and social service providers.
  • Remind clients of the time, date, and location of each scheduled appointment according to the established reminder policies.
  • Ensure that clients have all the information and resources they need for each appointment, such as childcare and/or transportation, if necessary.
  • Carefully document all scheduled activities for reporting purposes and to determine if outreach is needed.
  • Follow up with client appointments to ensure attendance and reschedule with providers, as necessary.
  • Report daily schedule to the responsible supervisor.
  • Submit all required reporting documentation in a timely manner.

Care Coordinators

  • In some agencies, fulfill the above responsibilities of Patient Navigators if the Care Coordinator also provides in-person client care.
  • May meet with client along with Patient Navigator after primary care physician appointments to review and update care plan.
  • Provide clinic-based health education along with scheduled primary care appointments.
  • Ensure that Patient Navigators can fulfill scheduled client meetings, providing assistance and support where necessary.
  • Schedule meetings to complete enrollment and intake procedures.
  • Schedule meetings to develop and update Care Plans.
  • Conduct outreach to schedule medical appointments for clients previously lost to care.
  • Ensure that the clients’ childcare and/or transportation needs are handled up to and including the next scheduled appointment, if necessary.
  • Ensure that reporting deadlines and requirements are met.

These tasks should be carried out in accordance with agency policies on scheduling client meetings. Depending on agency policies, roles and responsibilities for Care Team members in your agency may vary. Check with your supervisor to understand the specific responsibilities you may have or visit the Establishing Policies and Protocols page for a more detailed list of scheduling policy recommendations.

Scheduling Tools

Many agencies may choose to create custom scheduling and reporting tools to track client meetings and other records. Below are three customizable templates that can be adapted for your agency to track client schedules, reporting deadlines and components, and weekly staff schedules: