6.21.13 Issue #589 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 

It’s Not Personal, It’s Just “The Dentist”
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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As you scan the schedule for the coming week, you see that some of your “favorite” patients will be in for appointments. You also note that there are a few more new patients, which always quickens your pulse a bit. After all, it’s rewarding to know that you’ve been “chosen.” You look forward to catching up with existing patients as well as getting to know those you will be meeting for the first time.

So when two people cancel at the last minute on Monday and another doesn’t show on Tuesday morning, a measure of frustration begins to percolate across the team. But the week is still young, you reason. On Wednesday, one of the new patients suddenly has a “work emergency” and must reschedule, and another patient was confused and thought his crown and bridge appointment was next week not this week. That slight measure of frustration on Tuesday has now escalated to a full blown production panic attack as your blood pressure is now pinning the needle on the anxiety meter.

By the time the week wraps up at the close of business on Thursday, after tallying all of the cancellations and no-show appointments, it’s fair to say that production has taken a beating. Compounding the frustration, it seemed as though every other patient was strolling in late. Did the time change occur again and no one told you? Has everyone abandoned common courtesy? Is there a full moon? Sure, people are busy. Life and work are demanding. But why do so many patients think it’s okay to blow off their dental appointments?

Doctor, it’s not personal. It’s just the dentist. In other words, they do not understand the impact that their appointment failures, cancellations, and late arrivals have on your practice. They do not value your care because they don’t understand the value of your care. So how do you turn this around? First objective: Get patients in the chair at the appointed hour.

I will be the first to acknowledge that eliminating no-shows, cancellations, and late patients entirely is impossible. However, there are many things every practice can do to significantly minimize the number of schedule upsets. It all begins with one simple concept: appointment confirmations.

Now before you roll your eyes, groan in frustration, and assert that your “Cracker Jack” team has neither the time nor the patience to engage in this mind-numbing exercise in futility, let me say, things have changed. Or should I say the process for successfully fulfilling this responsibility has changed, and the results are more than impressive.

The digital age of communication has opened a host of faster, simpler, and more effective means of ensuring that patients are in the dental chair at the appointed hour. How? It begins with the communication tools that patients prefer, namely, email and text messaging. In fact, a national survey conducted by Sesame Communications revealed that nearly 80% of patients – 79.5% to be specific – stated that they preferred text message and email reminders. And the best part is that these tools can be automated to ensure there is zero drain on staff time, the messages are consistent, and the communication is delivered according to individual patient preferences.
 
In other words, you can give patients exactly what they want when it comes to appointment confirmations. For example, if “Miss Sarah Simple” simply wants a text message, her settings can specify that she be notified of her appointments via a text message. If “Mr. Charlie Choosey” wants an email, the system can be setup easily to communicate with him through email. If super-busy “Mrs. Corporate” wants a text message reminder, an email, and a phone call reminder, practices can now deliver quickly and efficiently. When it comes to ensuring that your patients are seated in the dental chair at the appointed hour, confirming appointments in the manner that works best for the patients will deliver what’s best for the practice, namely a big reduction in late, missed, or failed appointments.

How big? Consider this compelling statistic. According to Sesame Communications, in the first 36 months of implementing automated appointment reminders, no-shows were reduced by 22.95% in dental practices, driving $31,456.88 in incremental production.*

Next week, maximize patient/practice relationships while minimizing staff time.

*Attendance rates on 21,566,375 appointments scheduled at 491 practices

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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