Broken appointments and last minute cancellations: While you can’t prevent this issue completely, there are things you can do to decrease the frequency of BA’s and last minute changes in your schedule.
I had a medical appointment that I’d waited 3 months for; but then they called and changed it. Another 2 months passed (It was for the dreaded annual physical). I was busy and didn’t want to go. Mentally, I said, “Hey! No big deal. They changed it on me.”
The issue: If you’re changing your patient’s appointment, you’ve just said: “Hey, your dental appointment is less important than whatever else we, as a dental practice, have to do.” The appointment suddenly has less value. After all, if the appointment were important, you wouldn’t be changing it. Sadly, you’ve just given your dental patients a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
Value is perceived in many ways. If the appointment has value, honor thy schedule! I know things come up, but as a leader, you need to look at the schedule. If there are patients scheduled, honor thy schedule. If your staff member says, “But…this is so important to me….” you may need to make the exception. However, if this happens repetitively for one member of your team, I’d recommend you say, “I appreciate all you do and enjoy working with you, but your repetitive requests for time out of the office are not in the best interest of the patient, nor the practice. As your boss and friend, I’d love to say yes, but I can’t; it’s not in the interest of our patients.”
Build a strong pending or priority list: Rather than changing appointments, build a strong pending list.
The words you use with your patient matters. At the time of scheduling the patient, say: “We rarely have a change in our schedule, but I know the doctor doesn’t want you to wait. If she said you need this treatment completed, we should see you as soon as possible. I can place your name on our priority list if you’d like, and call you should the opportunity comes up to see you sooner.”
Pull from your priority list before shifting your other currently scheduled patients. If you’re working on a strong recall and reactivation program, you should have a good pending list, unless you need to build your patient base. For more verbal skills, see our website for webinars, dvd’s and verbal cue cards, at www.MilesGlobal.net.
With all this said, honor thy schedule!! Do not move people, unless you’re desperate, to fill an opening. Routinely changing patients appointments is a bad habit to get into!