5.25.12 Issue #530 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Where Are My Patients Today?
By Nancy Caudill

Have you experienced this scenario? You had a good night’s sleep, a short run in the morning and you are all keyed up to start your Monday off with a bang. You gather your team together for the morning meeting, and only then do you see that you have no patients until 11am, and only one in the afternoon. “What happened to my schedule?” you ask. Your Schedule Coordinator has the “deer in the headlights” look on her face. Suddenly, you feel depressed and started thinking this is the beginning of the end.

Now you and I both know that the phones will keep ringing and your patients will keep coming - but just not on this day! What needed to happen after the morning meeting adjourned?

First Plan of Attack
Call a couple of the patients before lunch and offer to see them sooner. “Mrs. Jones, I am so happy to be calling you. Dr. Smith has had a change in her schedule and would love to see you earlier this morning. Is that possible?” If your Schedule Coordinator can buy herself some time by moving the patients to earlier appointments, she will then have time to start “dialing for dollars” to fill the openings that were left from the patients that were moved.

Second Plan of Attack
The infamous “ASAP” or “Sooner if Possible” List. Every practice should have as many names as possible on this list. How do the names get on the list? The Schedule or Hygiene Coordinator asks each patient if they would like to be contacted sooner than their scheduled appointment if there is a “change” in the schedule. “Mrs. Jones, I will be happy to place your name on our Priority List and notify you if we have a change in our schedule.”

Please don’t call it the ASAP List and definitely not the Cancellation List.  A “Priority List” sounds much more friendly and important. I want to be on someone’s Priority List. Start contacting patients on this list that would be a good fit for the openings that have been created. “Mrs. Jones, you asked that I contact you if we had a change in our schedule.  I am happy to inform you that Dr. Smith can see you this morning at 11:00. “

Third Plan of Attack
Review the doctor’s schedule for tomorrow. You may be able to buy some time by moving a patient from tomorrow to today, giving yourself additional time to fill tomorrow’s opening. “Mrs. Jones, Dr. Smith asked that I give you a call. She’s had a change in her schedule and thought that you might appreciate the opportunity to come in today instead of tomorrow.”

Fourth Plan of Attack
The “Unscheduled List, Pending Page, Quick Fill”, etc.  These are patients that had an appointment and cancelled it without rescheduling. Start with the most current appointments that were cancelled and work backwards up until six months. “Mrs. Jones, Dr. Smith is concerned that we have not rescheduled your appointment for your fillings on the upper left side. She asked that I contact you. She would like to see you today at 11:00.”

Note: If patients are not scheduled off of these lists, the lists may not be current.  Always double-check to make sure that the treatment has not already been either scheduled or completed before calling.

Fifth Plan of Attack
The Unscheduled Treatment Plan List.  Again, do not generate this list for more than 180 days (6 months), as patients should be seen in hygiene at some point and the treatment plan would be updated. The script would be similar to the script above except for replacing the word “rescheduled” for “scheduled.”

It is vital to always enter your contact notes in the computer regarding any attempts to contact a patient about an appointment. It is also important to view the notes prior to placing the call to be sure that someone else hasn’t placed the same call recently. This step saves time and embarrassment.  Have you ever had a patient say: “Someone just called me yesterday about this. I told them I was going to wait until the summer.”

No doctor or hygienist enjoys seeing their schedule fall apart, but it is reassuring to know that your Schedule and Hygiene Coordinator are doing everything in their power to replace those missing patients. It is also very helpful to have a clinical person who has finished stocking the rooms, taken inventory, tidied up sterilization and completed other clinical tasks to assist in the “attack.”

Train all of your employees on how to make these phone calls and use proper scripts.  When necessary, everyone can man their battleships and win the war on last minute cancellations!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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