Broken appointments are the bane of any Doctor’s existence. Nothing is worse than having a well-scheduled day planned and then having a few patient “call-offs” and “no-shows” impede your workflow. Managing your practice’s scheduling systems is hard enough, but when your patients begin skipping appointments, it can quickly turn into an unmanageable cluster.
Here is what one New York dentist did to effectively reduce the number of broken appointments at his office:
1.) Create a Cancellation Policy
Create a cancellation policy and work thoroughly to inform all your patients about it. Using emails, phone calls and voicemails with the right tone and script, articulate the importance of keeping their appointments and inform them of a new penalty associated with canceling any appointment less than 48 hours in advance.
Now in most cases, it can be to your benefit to waive the cancellation fee if a patient happens to violate the cancellation policy. It can help establish trust and create a long-term relationship, which can lead to more referrals down the road. However, having the policy in place and properly communicated can help to quickly deter the number of canceled appointments.
2.) Use Automated Reminder Software
Patients can often be forgetful. In fact, most missed appointments are genuine, honest mistakes. Consider implementing automated reminder software that can notify patients of an upcoming appointment with an email, text message or phone call. Patients then will be able to confirm their appointments with either a click or a verbal confirmation. This will serve to keep their appointment on top of their mind and harder to forget.
3.) Establish Confirmation Protocols
Establish a confirmation protocol to be carried out by either your desk staff or a call center support team. Best practices indicate that it is important to confirm appointments early and often so that, in the event of a cancellation, you have plenty of time to fill that appointment.
This particular New York doctor chose to employ two rounds of confirmation call – the standard 48 hours in advance and the last audit confirmation 24 hours in advance.
This doctor made it a point to call all appointments marked as “Left Messages” during the initial 48-hour conformation. If the patient did not answer the next day, the doctor had his staff leave the patient another voicemail explaining the office would not hold any unconfirmed appointment past 12 p.m. that day. If there were still no response from the patient, the staff would call once again at noon and let the patient know that their appointment had been opened up to people who were waiting to see the doctor. The staff then reassures the patient that the option to reschedule is always available to them should they wish to use it.
The reason this doctor implements the last audit policy is that, generally, patients who have not confirmed with the less than 24 hours to their appointment are 93% likely not to show up. Therefore, after following up with the patient three separate times, they are now free to fill that opening with someone else.
If your practice is interested in decreasing the number of broken appointments you see, consider working with a marketing agency that is well-versed in the dental industry. At Conversion Whale, we understand how to market to current and potential patients and how to get them to walk in the door.
About Conversion Whale
Founded in 2014, Conversion Whale is a rapidly-growing marketing firm that has become the nation’s leading Google AdWords marketing company for dental practices, legal offices, and franchise companies. Its dedicated and knowledgeable staff specializes in turning existing websites into profitable marketing engines and promises its clients a minimum of 50 new leads a month. The company currently has more than 500-plus partners throughout North America and is rapidly expanding its reach. For more information, visit www.conversionwhale.com or call (855) 699-4253