Where Did Our Patients Go??

11 Apr


This week our ‘Ask Amy’ video referenced how to prevent last minute cancellations.   Our tendency is to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to patients not showing up.  We think that ‘punishing’ them with a no show fee will do the trick. Well, it might in some cases, but what does it do for the relationship?


We continue to simplify this component of your practice by first retraining OUR brains to think differently – I promise your patients will follow suit!


Here’s the plan –


  • Be cautious of your verbiage when you call to confirm – instead of ‘I’m calling to confirm’ or ‘just checking to be sure that’s a good time for you’ etc., let’s say something like, ‘Our hygienist Julie is really looking forward to seeing you at 1:00 tomorrow – if there’s anything special we can do in preparation for your visit, let me know’
  • Look at your scripting, away message, basically any communication with your patients, both verbal and non-verbal.  Is there anything that says ‘We require 24/48 hours notice… ‘  If so, you are giving them permission to change their appointment, as long as they do it a day or two in advance.  You still have to scramble to fill those spots.  The goal is to have the recall schedule look the same for today as it did 6 months ago.  I understand there are some circumstances we simply cannot avoid, i.e.: illness. But that last minute business meeting is code for ‘It’s just a cleaning – I can do that anytime’.  
  • Change all written verbiage to – ‘Any changes in your appointments affect many people. We promise to honor your time and in return as that you do the same, in fairness to all of our patients’.  
  • Additionally, when you pre-book 6 months out, don’t say things like ‘Let’s go ahead and schedule now – you can always change it’.  Instead try, ‘Let’s go ahead and schedule your 6 month visit now so that you can get the time you like – then you can plan around it’. 
  • When patients want to reschedule last minute, rather than saying ‘What’s a better time for you?’  I would say, ‘Are you sure you cannot rearrange your schedule?  It will be at least 12 weeks before we can get you back in.  I think you’ll find that many patients will go ahead and make it work. 
  • If you have a chronic abuser – someone who cancels more appointments than they keep, I would say, ‘It seems as if this hasn’t worked out well for you in the past.  In order to be fair to everyone, we ask that you go ahead and secure your appointment with a credit card’.  Again, that’s ONLY for those who consistently abuse your time. 


While many of these changes are subtle, cumulatively you will find that they will change the way you AND your patients view the continuing care appointment


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