7.8.16 Issue #748 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Patients Not Showing Up? Donít Kill Time, Take Action
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Mrs. Wilson has done it again. She was scheduled for a 3pm appointment, but it’s 3:10 and there’s still no sign of her. The afternoon lull has already left the practice quiet, so instead of hitting the phones to try and fill the newly open slot, your team members decide to use the time to take a break and hope the 4pm appointment actually shows up.

This might seem harmless, but it’s hurting practice profits. If your hygienist Lucy spends an hour relaxing in the breakroom as she enjoys her favorite magazine, she’s not doing much to contribute to the 33% of production she’s responsible for. And if your Scheduling Coordinator is using the time to check personal email or make plans for the evening, the chances of you meeting your daily production goals are pretty slim.

Broken appointments shouldn’t translate into down time. Instead, team members should take action and look for ways to get patients in the chair. Here are a few ways team members can help alleviate the pain that broken appointments bring.

1. Call the Patient
When patients doesn’t show up, don’t just shrug your shoulders and wait for them to call and reschedule. Have your Scheduling Coordinator call and let them know you’re worried. Here’s an example of what the coordinator should say:

“Hello Mrs. Wilson. This is Susan from Dr. Clark’s office. We were expecting you for your appointment at 3pm. I was concerned because you haven’t arrived yet. Is everything OK?”

Listen carefully to the patient’s response. Maybe she’s stuck in traffic or is dealing with a family emergency. Remember that unexpected things happen, and your team members should be sensitive to that when calling patients. However, if you’re dealing with a patient who has a history of skipping appointments, it’s important to note that, too. Flag these patients, and instead of scheduling them in advance, let them know you’ll call them when there’s an opening:

“Mrs. Wilson, it looks like we’re having trouble scheduling a time that’s convenient for you. I don’t have any open appointments at this time, but I will call you when something becomes available.”

2. Put a List Together
The thought of rushing around to fill a last-minute opening can be stressful, which is why team members might be tempted to take a break instead. To make it easier to fill open slots, keep an updated list of patients who would prefer earlier appointment times or who you know are flexible and willing to move their appointments if necessary. Call these patients first and you just might be able to salvage the schedule.

3. Follow Up
If you can’t get the patient on the phone the day of the broken appointment, follow up later. Use this phone call to educate patients about the importance of keeping their appointments and maintaining their oral health. Politely let them know how last minute cancellations and no-shows affect the practice. Many patients have no idea that you have set aside time specifically for them, and don’t think about the fact that another patient who needs to see the doctor could have taken their appointment if they had been given the opportunity.

4. Make Hygiene a Priority
When patients cancel a hygiene appointment, it should be your Scheduling Coordinator’s priority to fill it. If the cancelling patient gives you less than half a day notice, try to move a scheduled patient from another day into that time slot. When you have more notice, turn to the recall list and contact overdue patients.

Getting recall patients in the chair is an essential part of practice success. Remember, it costs more to attract new patients to your practice than it does to keep existing patients, and recall patients represent thousands of dollars in unscheduled treatment – treatment they’re unlikely to schedule unless your practice makes an effort to reach out and educate them about the importance of maintaining their oral health.

When patients don’t show up, it can bring your team down and leave them wanting to spend this sudden free time relaxing as they wait for the next patient. This does nothing to help production and revenues, which is why it’s so important to take action when you find yourself dealing with a broken appointment. These tips will not only help you fill sudden openings, they’ll also reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows your practice deals with each day, and that of course will help you reach your production goals and grow your bottom line.

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

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