Creating a List to Call For Changes in the Schedule
Many times we look ahead at the doctor and hygiene schedules and see they are absolutely full – but once the confirming is done, you may end up with holes all over the place. Seeing a full schedule gives a false sense of security. This is why, no matter what, the recall system needs to be worked continuously. In addition, it’s important to work on building a list to call from when there are last minute changes.
It really doesn’t matter what you call this list, as long as you don’t refer to it as “the cancelation list” to patients, as that term indicates it’s ok to cancel. I know it sounds picky, but it really does make a difference. I like calling it “the priority list”. This gives the patient you are working with a sense of having priority over everybody else when it comes to appointments that become available.
Patients do not need to know why openings become available. This is NOT the time to say, “We had a cancelation in our schedule for today at three. Would you like to come in for that appointment?” By doing so, you are telling that patient that not only is it all right to cancel, but ok to cancel last minute.
As far as the patient is concerned, perhaps the hygienist or doctor added extra hours to their schedule. It’s really not the patient’s concern why the schedule has time available – the only concern they should have is knowing they can have their appointment today. One way of saying this is, “We just had some changes in our schedule for today. Would you like to come in at three?”
Now to start building “the priority list.” If a patient gives you a specific day or time when they would like to come in and you are not able to give it to them, you may want to ask if they would like to be on the priority call list. This is for both the doctor and hygiene schedule.
When a patient tries to make an appointment on a certain day/time, it’s often because their life is extremely busy and they know an appointment on that day will not interrupt things quite as much as another day. Although the patient may be willing to take another appointment, if they can get in on their preferred day by being on the priority list, they will be thrilled!
The priority list is helpful for making recall appointments as well. If a patient is not able to schedule on the day they are supposed to come in, the Scheduling Coordinator should be asking them if they would like to be added to the priority call list in order to stay on schedule and maintain the health of their mouth.
We’ve all had last minute cancelations in the schedule. Even if you can only partially fill the opening, think of the production saved. Having a large “priority call list” is crucial when it comes to keeping your schedule full and providing even better customer service to your patients. It’s as easy as regularly asking patients: “If I have an appointment come available that gets you in sooner, would you like us to call you? What day and time is your preference?” Add this into your verbiage, even when the schedule appears to be booked solid!
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