How to Get Patients to Schedule (and Show Up) for Bi-Annual Check-Ups
It’s estimated that one-third of Americans do not visit a dentist on a regular basis, and another ten percent of patients miss appointments without calling to reschedule. Not only is this detrimental to your patients’ overall health, but it affects your practice as well. Here in our Bountiful dental practice, we’ve been challenged with how to get patients to schedule (and show up for) their check-ups.
In the airline industry, airlines try to predict the likelihood of a no-show and overbook their flights to try and hedge off the cost. This leads to frustrated passengers when more show up than the airline planned for.
As dentists, we hold a more personal relationship with our patients. The consequences of overbooking and frustration could mean losing a patient you couldn’t afford to lose in the first place.
Instead of using the airline philosophy, here are a few ways to encourage greater turnout for appointments and regularly scheduling of check-ups in your dental practice.
These are an age-old tradition that doctors’ offices use. We’re often familiar with the call to confirm an appointment 24-48 hours in advance. But what about reminding patients when they’re due for a cleaning or procedure when they haven’t booked an appointment?
Every day in our society, we try to pack more to-dos onto our list, but haven’t yet found the ability to stretch time out longer. This leads to an overloaded society stressed about cleaning the house, taking kids to practice, getting homework done and finishing projects at work. With the day-to-day on their mind, it can be easy to forget a dental check-up that happens once every six months.
Communicate with the patient the way they want to be communicated with
There are many platforms out there that will give you the ability to communicate in different methods with different patients.
An elderly patient may expressly want postcard reminders, when a patient in their late teens or twenties would most likely prefer a text over a phone call or email. Does the wife or husband need to be the one to make the appointment?
Change your language when you confirm appointments
A few years ago, a restaurant was plagued with no-show diners that increased their wait times and dipped into their profits. Their hostesses would call diners the day of the reservation to remind them and would ask the client to “please let them know if anything changes.”
Then the manager had an idea. For one month, he asked the hostesses to change the language they used. Hostesses were to ask the patron, “Will you please call us if anything changes?”
It turns out, getting the committed ‘yes’ from the patron on the other end decreased no-shows by half.
Be open with your clients about their dental health and the procedures they need
Clearly communicating with your patients what the procedure entails, where in their mouth the issue is and how serious it is to get fixed could greatly increase their commitment to obtaining treatment. The results are even better if you can show your patients the problem spot on the x-ray or using a mirror.
It seems we all have our own tips and tricks for keeping our chairs full, and patients happy and healthy. Have you tried any of these methods? What has been successful for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
For more ideas for managing broken appointments, visit this article.