You start the day with a full schedule and feeling like you have accomplished a huge goal. That is right up until the appointment time. Then we get that call where the patient says they need to reschedule. And it may happen more than once that day. Now you are left with the daunting task of scrambling to find someone to fill that time. This is not only costly but frustrating to the practice. If this is happening too frequently in your practice, it may be time to re-evaluate the conversations you are having with patients regarding a scheduled appointment.
Do your patients think their appointment is tentative or “penciled in” until it is actually confirmed a day or two before the appointment when you call or text to confirm it with them? Is your patient committed to the appointment when they reserve the day and time?
The most common reason for cancellations is the lack of complete clarity of expectations that the practice has with the patient.
An appointment is made with a patient not for a patient. There should be four agreements that are made before an appointment is scheduled that will help with this clarity. You should agree on:
- Which procedure(s) will be completed.
- Why the procedure(s) were recommended, and the patient’s consent for the treatment.
- The fee for the procedure and the agreement for how the patient will pay for it.
- The date, time, and approximate duration of the appointment.
At this point, the practice has agreed to be on time and to deliver the service, and the patient has agreed to be on time and uphold their part of the agreement.
Consider using a script like this: “Mr. Smith, I’m delighted to confirm your appointment now. We have committed to this day and time for you. I will not bother you with a call the evening before unless you have a concern about your ability to remember it.”
By making a consistent effort to confirm appointments, you can have greater confidence that patients will uphold their agreements to keep their scheduled appointments.
If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in learning more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where these, and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas are taught to you and your team by one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches. To find out more about Dentrix Profitability Coaching, click here.
By Ginger Wills, Henry Schein One Practice Consultant