5 Effective Ways to Reduce Broken Appointments
There will always be situations in the dental practice that our patient’s schedules breakdown. Some patients get confused the schedule of their appointment or worst completely forget about it. Others miss their appointment for reasons beyond their control such as emergency at work, weather conditions or getting ill. And, of course, there are some patients who just simply do not value their dental appointments and don’t honor their commitment to their dentist.
Because of these circumstances, broken appointments represent downtime for your dental practice. To avoid this, it makes sense to implement certain rules and protocols to keep this problem under control.
What do we recommend:
Establish the Value of Your Appointments
In today's era, patients usually allow their oral health care to slip down as the least of their priorities. Dentists should teach their patients the value of dental care. Building value can begin during the first conversation with a new patient and should continue through out all the patient’s interactions.
When patients are educated as to why their dental care and treatment are essential for their well being and how delaying this can worsen their problem and increase the cost in the long run, they maybe more likely to show up and complete their dental appointment with you promptly. Before you schedule an appointment, make sure at least one member of the clinical team explains the treatment recommendations and reinforces its necessity. The best way to build long-term loyal patients and reduce broken appointments is to make sure that patients understand the reason for follow-up appointments and the benefits of keeping up with their maintenance on their dental health.
Create Financial Arrangement Before the Appointment
To avoid getting put off by your patients, suggests to your patients prepay prior to the treatment or at least do a downpayment. By prepaying or asking for a downpayment, patients are more likely to keep their appointments. Payment is a form of commitment and acts as an incentive to show up. To encourage patients to do a financial commitment, you may want to offer a small discount if they prepay the full amount, making it a win-win option for everyone involved.
Confirm Appointments Effectively
Patient do deserve the courtesy to be reminded about their appointments. When patients initially schedule, ask them which contact method works best for them. Would they prefer a call placed to their home or mobile number? Perhaps a text message is more convenient for their lifestyle. Maybe they check their email frequently and receiving a reminder through that channel is most effective. Make sure you collect this information from every patient and send reminders that work for them.
Sometimes, a personal phone call placed a few days before the appointment maybe effective to remind them. Patients may feel thankful for the personal touch. Do make sure that you take the opportunity to tackle their concerns and possibly save enough time on their appointment to address them.
With the edge of technology, use this to add more convenience on your dental service to your patients. Such as send a save-the-date reminder via email or text message as soon as you schedule their appointment. Patients can automatically sync your reminders to their electronic devices and quickly add appointments to their calendars.
Courtesy Is Two Way
As much as we complain about patients cancelling appointments with us, we are also guilty of moving and cancelling our appointments or making them wait far too long than necessary before they get treated. It is understandable that we would like to maximize our time in our schedule, but, we shouldn't be doing what we wouldn't want our patients to do unto us. Properly space the time of treating patients in accordance to the estimated time of preparation, actual treatment and clean-up, to avoid making your patients wait too long at the reception area. And, if you do need to cancel or move an appointment with them, do it at least at the worst case scenario within 24 hours. So, in other words, if we want our patients to treat us with courtesy, we should do the same.
Appreciation Takes Us A Long Way
We have always heard that showing gratitude or being thankful provide positive enforcement in our lives. This is the same in business or in our dental practice. When we show simple ways of appreciations to our patients when they keep up with their appointment and being on time, they may feel more encourage to do all the time and make it their habit. Sometimes special marketing ideas to acknowledge patients like this such as giving them an inexpensive price like toothbrush or samples or discount of 1%-5% off of their treatment will go a long way. Although, saying "thank you" to them can also be just as effective.
Time management is very important to the sustenance of our dental practice. Patients who arrive late or the last minute cancellations can indeed cause unproductive downtime, gaps and financial upheaval to our dental business. By establishing the value of your dental appointments and doing effective ways and techniques to the upkeep of your appointments, we maybe able just to make these broken appointments a rare occurrence and even better, non-existent
Dr. Bryan Anduiza - Main Writer
Dr. Jean Galindez - Writer | Editor