Did Julie Schedule Her Dental Appointment?
As the dentist and “salesman” in your practice, do you often wonder if John scheduled the appointment for his crown today or if Julie made her appointment for the quadrant of fillings? Many clients will express their concern relating to whether their patients are scheduling or not scheduling at the front desk. “Did I spend all that time discussing treatment options just to see the patient walk out the front desk with no appointment card in their hand?” Perhaps a tracking device is needed to determine exactly this.
Why Is This Important?
I know that you are thinking…..my practice management software tracks this….not exactly. If all the I’s and t’s are crossed, it will give you treatment acceptance, outstanding treatment plans and other pieces of information that are not always helpful. This report, however, tells you exactly who scheduled and who didn’t and if they didn’t, why. Accountability is vital to the management of your practice. This is accomplished by monitoring tasks that are measurable.
A tracking form also indicates how many perio, removable, fixed, oral surgery, endo, etc. categories have treatment presented and what percentage of these patients scheduled their appointment. If there is a pattern of restorative procedures being scheduled and fixed or crown appointments not being scheduled – there is a problem. Could it be that the patients can manage their financial obligations for this type of treatment but not for higher dollar items? If so, this means that the financial options in your office are not effective. It could also mean that the patient does not have a full understanding of what the benefits are for a crown versus a filling. As a result, they elect the more affordable option, just to be safe.
Follow Up with Non-Scheduled Patients
Your patient wants to talk with their spouse first before they make an appointment. My guess is that it is about finances. I have a question for you? How well do you feel that your patient can go home and “talk to” and educate their spouse on their dental needs? Probably not well enough for their spouse to say “yes”, in many cases. These patients need tools to take home to help support their plea. Tools such as a photo of their tooth/teeth that require treatment, a color-printed periodontal chart with the areas circled that are of concern, a pamphlet relating to their specific dental needs, etc. should be offered to the patient.
The Schedule Coordinator would be appropriate in responding to this comment from the patient with a “Mrs. Jones, I can understand that this is a difficult decision. Do you have any specific questions that I may be able to help with?” or “Mrs. Jones, I appreciate that this is a big decision for you. Would you like for me to speak with your spouse about your dental needs?” or “Mrs. Jones, I know that this is a big decision. I also know that Dr. Brown is concerned about these teeth. If I don’t hear from you in a few days, may I call you and see how I can help?”
“I need to think about it!” I love this one. What exactly are they going to think about anyway? My guess is: what’s for dinner – what’s on TV tonight – what will I wear to the party tomorrow. You know….those important questions. This response simply means that the patient was not “sold” chairside and are not committed emotionally. Maybe options were not offered or not enough questions were asked to determine if the patient is ready to commit to the treatment. The doctor should have inquired – “Mrs. Jones, does this sound like something that you are committed to in order to save your tooth?” It is necessary for the patient to indicate that they are unclear about their dental needs in the treatment room opposed to making this statement to the Schedule Coordinator. However, should it happen, the Schedule Coordinator would ask the probing questions as mentioned about to determine exactly what the hesitation is – financial? Understanding exactly what is needed and why? Will it hurt?
Information is powerful. Information also assists you, as the doctor, to hold your team accountable for their required tasks relative to their job descriptions. Find out what your appointment scheduling percentage is and improve it for increased production and collections.
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