How to reduce missed appointments?
Cancellations and non-presentations to the appointments directly impact the productivity of dental clinics. It is a waste of money, a waste of time, and a frustration for a patient who could not be seen. Here are some steps to put in place to end this type of behavior.
The financial consequences of missed appointments
When a patient does not show up for an appointment or cancels at the last minute, the financial consequences for your clinic are in the long run, considerable. The numbers speak for themselves. Almost 10% of appointments are not honoured or cancelled. At the rate of 1 cancelled appointment per day, at the end of the year, this represents a loss of revenue of$ 20,000 to $ 70,000. We propose simple rules to apply to your customers to make up for this shortfall and to reduce those harmful practices to your business.
Set up an automatic reminder
Nothing is more effective than your Assistant’s confirmation of appointments over the phone. But this solution is far too tedious and therefore costly. Many clinics may prefer the automatic reminders using SMS or email 1 to 2 days before the appointment. For an effective result, let the patient specify the mode of communication they prefer. This type of reminder significantly reduces the chances of an appointment being cancelled. In addition to better managing your appointments, this reminder will create a link with your patient, thanks to this little personalized message. On this message, specify different options to allow them to cancel their appointment. This facilitates their approach and minimizes your risk of missed appointments.
Clear instructions and penalties to reduce missed appointments<
Highlight your cancellation policy. On your appointment cards, make the following statement very visible: “in case of cancellation of your appointment, please contact us 48 hours in advance”. To definitely reduce these untimely cancellations, do not hesitate to add this second sentence which should echo: “beyond that, cancellation fees could be applied”. Do not hesitate to frame the mentioned when handing appointments. This threat is often enough to reduce this type of behavior so that, all of a sudden, going to the dentist becomes a priority.
In case of cancellation, place the appointment at a later date
When cancelling an appointment, tell your patient that the next date is not for several weeks and that he or she may be placed on a waiting list in case of withdrawal. In many cases, this means that she keeps her appointment.
If the cancellation is still made, place it on the waiting list. Let a few day pass before calling him back to give him a date within ten days. This type of practice is usually sufficient to educate these “missed or cancelled date offenders”.
Educating your patients to reduce missed appointments
When calling for cancellations, let them know that it disrupts the schedule too much. Avoid minimizing the impact this has on your organization. No phrases like, “Don’t worry, it’s okay”! Remind them of the value of an appointment with you as a dental surgeon. This is how you will make them respect their commitment.
Take the time to analyze the statistics and list patients who are familiar with the fact. With them, have a stricter cancellation policy and feel free to use reminders.
In order to be productive, it is imperative to set up an efficient management of your appointment book. Make both your patients and your team aware of the importance of a respected appointment.