5 ways your practice can reduce cancelled appointments
Few things suck more than cancelled or missed appointments. There’s the dent in your revenue. But these scratched appointments also ratchet up seen and unseen costs for your dental practice. Lost time from preparing for the absent patient’s procedure is the most conspicuous. While the impact of rescheduling appointments is harder to quantify, it can exact a heavy toll on your team’s morale and efficiency. So what’s best practice for reducing no-shows and cancelled appointments? Are there tried and tested tips to boost profitability and your team’s mojo in one fell swoop?
Yes, use Clear’s five step approach to break free from cancellation stress and help your patients keep their appointments.
1. Root cause
Before you dive headfirst into solutions, let’s be clear about why patients skip appointments in the first place. Different patients cancel for different reasons. Some patients lead busy lives and simply forget their booking. Some have a dental phobia. For other patients, a work or family issue crops up, or they may not see their planned dental treatment as a priority. Then there’s a patient cohort who are uninsured and worried about their dental bills. Technology, communication, processes and skilled staff will help you understand the reasons behind missed appointments and find solutions.
Harness technology to move the needle towards fewer patients skipping their dental visits. Start with the basics. Email a calendar appointment to patients as soon as they book a consultation. You’re doing them and your business a favour by putting the date into their diary and onto their radar. Make it easy for your staff and patients to reschedule with an online booking page on your website and Facebook page. But only offer it for appointments that are more than 72 hours away. After that, advise patients to call your practice for changes and cancellations. Ensure staff record any issues in the practice management software (PMS) that potentially impact patient attendance. Use this information to spot patterns and troubleshoot any barriers stopping patients from showing up.
3. Open communication
Actively build rapport and trust with your patients. Ensure patients understand the treatment options you and your team recommend and their benefits. Make sure patients feel comfortable and confident about asking questions. If patients understand why good dental health and prompt treatment is in their best interests, they’ll be more likely to keep their appointments.
When it comes to your practice’s productivity, getting the right policies and processes in place is crucial. For appointment reminders, three is a charm for minimising cancellations. Using your patient’s preferred contact method (email, SMS or phone), send your first friendly reminder three weeks out from the appointment. The second reminder should arrive three business days ahead of the consultation, and the third and final reminder three business hours beforehand. If possible, make your second reminder a phone call. Put processes in place to offer same-day treatment options for patients who attend check-ups and require procedures. That way you can provide immediate treatment without patients having to return for another consult. And have a patient waitlist your team can call to fill appointments that are cancelled.
5. Skilled staff
Last and not least, you need skilled staff you can count on. Staff who can connect with your patients empathetically over the phone, and ensure your PMS has the right information and workflows to make your practice run like clockwork. Sometimes, finding skilled employees can feel like searching for a unicorn. But it doesn’t have to. With Clear’s offshore staffing solutions, we have the rockstar admin staff your practice has been looking for.
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