Process improvement for behavioral health

Centralize Appointment Scheduling


Counselors spend too much time scheduling their own appointments.


Centralize appointment scheduling so that counselors can focus on seeing clients instead of scheduling, making phone calls, and other logistical tasks.

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Sinnissippi Centers in Dixon, Illinois, centralized all appointment scheduling at the front desk. This streamlined the scheduling process, which enabled counselors to see more clients and increased revenues from assessments by 6 percent.

The Center for Drug Free Living in Orlando, Florida, used a multi-person appointment book to for all front-desk staff to use. Clients already in treatment were able to reschedule appointments on the first phone call instead of having to wait for a return phone call.

Lessons Learned

  • Address counselors’ concerns about sharing their calendars.
  • Use a calendar-sharing application such as Microsoft Outlook.

Tracking Measures

Cycle Measure

  • Number of days until next available appointment
  • Number of hours spent by counselors scheduling appointments

Data Collection Form

Next Available Appointment Tracking Spreadsheet



1. Decide how you will centralize appointment scheduling.

2. Collect baseline data for the number of days to the next available appointment and the number of hours counselors spend scheduling


3. Have the centralized office staff make appointments for counselors during the next two weeks.

4. Re-check the number of days until the next available treatment session and the number of hours that counselors spend scheduling appointments.


5. Check the fidelity of the change. Was the change implemented as planned?

6. Evaluate the change:

    • Did counselors spend less time making appointments?
    • Did counselors spend more time with clients?
    • How did counselors react to having their appointments made by someone else?
    • Did clients find appointment scheduling to be easier?
    • Did waiting time decrease?


7. Adjust the way that appointment scheduling is centralized or the number of counselors that are centrally scheduled. Re-test this promising practice for an additional two weeks.

Repeat this series of steps until you achieve centralized scheduling for all counselors.