As it comes to cutting down on cancellations and no-shows, we also live in an increasingly demanding world, and it can be difficult for your patients to take the time and effort out of their busy schedules to go to a dentist. Whatever the reason, your practice needs to understand this and help alleviate your patient’s concerns.
Help patients make dental visits a priority by emphasizing points such as early intervention can help ensure a quicker and less costly resolution to a dental problem.
There are similar but different protocols for
1) new patients,
2) patients due for re-care
3) patients past due for re-care
4) patients scheduled for operative, and
5) patients who broke their appointment for the operative.
10 tips that address all patients:
1. Talk to patients. The most basic step to keep no-shows and cancellations low is talking to patients while they are in the practice to ensure they’re educated on the negative effects on their oral and overall health if they do not move ahead with their treatment or care.
2. Assign confirmation to any team member so that the practice has accountability. That team member should have outstanding communication skills and have his or her ear "tuned" into a lack of commitment phrases from patients.
3. Find out whether patients would prefer to be contacted by text, mail, or phone. Texting is fastly becoming the preferred method, at least for my clients’ patients. Do not offer a postcard. Only use a postcard if a patient will request it.
With the help of advancements in dental technology, patients have much less reason to dread trips to your practice. Your job is to educate them on how the latest technology can help assuage their fears. Dentists can now quickly assess what issues patients are facing and accurately determine a course of treatment.
4. Keep the basic schedule for confirming appointments, which is three weeks, three days, and one day, unless a patient tells you differently.
5. Know that certain types of patients must be confirmed directly and fast.
a) Those who have previously broken an appointment.
b) Patients below 30s, Older people are often more reliable.
c) Patients who use Medical aid or any other government plan (those who pay cash or have private insurance are more reliable).
d) Those who have not been in practice for some time.
6. An active short-call list to help plug any holes in your schedule.
7. Remember the reminder for an operative appointment is one day before unless the appointment is booked well in advance.
8. For new patients, a call from the dentist to invite them to the practice will cut down on new patient no-shows.
9. If a patient doesn’t show up, call the person right away. If you do not reach the patient list, let the person know you’ll try back in a week. Repeat a week later if necessary. If there is still no response, put them on automatic reminders using their preferred form of communication and that will be taken care of.
10. After a month of patients responding and communication, continue to make calls based on your knowledge of a patient without becoming obnoxious or seeming desperate. How many calls you make are based on what you know about a patient. You should not be rote about how often you call, if you know the patient is out of the country for a few weeks, is ill, or whatever the case may be.
Above all, consistent focus on your marketing efforts and consistent messaging should empower your practice to not only rebound, but slingshot to greater success.