Using a follow-up solution to reduce cancellations and no-shows – there is hope!
Have you ever heard of Arthur Fry? Would you be surprised to learn that Arthur invented something you may be using right now in your dental practice? Here’s a hint: Arthur’s invention is a small, square piece of paper, often yellow, with a sticky adhesive on the back, that can be attached and reattached to a variety of surfaces. That’s right, Post-it notes! Arthur is credited with finding a use for this invention while working for 3M. He was trying to find a way to add multiple bookmarks to his church choir hymnbook, and, light bulb moment! The Post-it as we know it today was born.
So, how does this relate to your dental practice? Look no further than your computer monitor. Notice anything? If your office is a typical one, you likely have a few (or few dozen) Post-it notes attached to your screen, desk, wall, or any other available flat surface. And what do they have written on them? Follow-ups! Patients to call. Appointments to reschedule. Phone numbers. To-do lists. These and a dozen other things, all written on a 3”x3” piece of paper (or a legal pad, envelopes, Word doc, etc.) Now for the real question: What did you write down about that patient that didn’t reschedule five weeks ago, and where is the note reminding you to make that follow-up call? Or what about the note from two months ago, reminding you to check back on that patient with an overdue AR balance of $2,000? Multiply this by the likely dozens of other notes, each one important, that you are using to try and keep track of every follow-up you need to do, and your anxiety level will probably start to increase. Even if you keep those notes organized in an Excel spreadsheet or stored in a filing cabinet, they are still static and “invisible” and therefore far too easy to forget. There has to be a better way!
In a recent conversation with a dental practice owner, Dental Intelligence CEO Weston Lunsford asked her what her biggest concern was at the moment. She immediately responded with “same-day cancellations!” When asked why this was her biggest concern, this dentist indicated that these cancellations occurred almost daily and had serious consequences for the health of these canceling patients, as well as impacting team morale and practice performance. “So, what are you doing to fix this?” Weston asked. In response, she shared her attempts at using an automated communication system to confirm scheduled appointments with patients. “Let’s take a look at your schedule today and see what happened,” Weston suggested. They immediately discovered there were three broken appointments on that day’s schedule. With obvious frustration, she responded, “I know they confirmed!” “Do you mean someone from your office called each of these patients?” Weston asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “But I do know they confirmed the text or email we sent to them.” This led to a conversation about the difference between a text/email confirmation and a phone confirmation and why both were important. Does any of this sound like your practice? If so, you need a system.
What’s your current process? How are you currently getting patients to schedule at a rate acceptable to you? How you answer this is related to your current re-scheduling follow-up process and system. Do you have one? If you’re below 60% on treatment acceptance, take a look at your system. Once you’ve been able to resolve or at least take control of the issues here, you can implement a re-scheduling system to connect to those who didn’t accept presented treatment while in your practice. What is your appointment confirmation approach? Is your broken-appointment % double-digits? Again, do some research to discover where you are currently, and then find a solution that enables you to improve.
Our analysis of thousands of practices has revealed that, on average, dental practices collect around 70% of what they bill. What would happen if that number increased by just 10%? Within five years, these practices could as much as double their growth. Project that out over 15-20 years, and the potential for growth and related patient impact is staggering. However, we also found that five years is the moment that many practices start to plateau in their growth. The main cause of this stagnation? Not reappointing canceled and “no-show” patients! That’s right, the same issue this practice owner had is one that is true in almost every dental practice. Although your situation is unique, with unique opportunities and challenges, the underlying cause of many of your concerns can be traced to not reappointing unscheduled, canceled, or “no-show” patients. It’s your system (or the lack thereof) that needs a thorough examination.
Practicing dentistry in today’s fast-changing world can be daunting. Trying to stay on top of scheduling and communication with thousands of active patients can seem almost impossible. Even with powerful technology now at your disposal, losing track of patients still happens in every practice, no matter how sophisticated your tools or systems might be. In summary, here’s a simple beginning to creating a process that can help you identify and reappoint more of your unscheduled or canceled/no-show patients:
- Identify all of your active patients without a scheduled next appointment.
- Determine an order of priority for contacting them, whether by A/R balance, cost of presented treatment, last scheduled appointment, etc.
- Develop a plan and a script for your “best” team members (i.e. those with the best phone skills) to use when contacting these patients to reschedule.
- Dedicate time daily for these calls to be made.
- Make some calls, evaluate what happened, adjust as needed, and get back on the phone.
- Most importantly, commit to a weekly process and system for following up. It’s time to stop letting your patients fall through the cracks.
If you’ve made it to this point, nice work! This means you are serious about making some serious changes in how you are managing your schedule. It also means you are looking for real solutions to one of the greatest problems every practice faces: How to stop patients from falling through the cracks. Dental Intelligence has your solution. Our exclusive Auto Follow-Up tool is helping thousands of dental practices recapture thousands of patients. It can help you do the same.
To learn more, download our new Follow-Up eBook, and then schedule a free (that’s right, free!) practice analysis to learn how many of your patients are falling through the cracks. DO NOT write this on a Post-it note to follow-up later 😊. DO IT NOW. No time like the present to start changing your future.