Broken appointments and no shows are inevitable in a dental practice. However, a healthy percentage must be monitored and action taken if it falls in the unhealthy range. We identify health as less than 5% for the doctor and less that 12% for hygiene. If you are over these healthy markers you will need to take action.
Not only are broken appointments stressful, frustrating and costly they typically occur as a result of a broken communication cycle that started prior to the appointment.
In some cases, patients should never have been put on the schedule in the first place.
Let’s examine these 3 cycles of communication:
- At the time of diagnosis the patient has to see and understand every problem that you point out. As Dr Dawson always states, if the patient does not know they have a problem there is no basis for a sale. The patient also has to understand the implication of leaving it that way, which is what causes the patient to act. The value to the patient for acting on the problem must be uncovered and used to help guide the patient to an appointment.
- Listen to the patient’s concerns: current life events, finances, time, commitment and so on. Help guide the patient to the best choice for them, which could be to not schedule the appointment at this time. It is important they feel understood and heard. This understanding develops a stronger relationship and builds trust. Document the discussion and refer to it during the next contact.
- Financial discussion is important at the time of scheduling, For the patients who are ready to schedule, you must be very clear about the fee and payment arrangements. The patient is the best judge of what they can afford and how they can pay it. During the discussion, make sure your financial guidelines are adhered to. If it is not possible for the patient to fall within these guidelines, it is not a good idea to reserve precious time on the schedule for them and not get paid for it. Financial arrangements should be documented and a copy given to the patient.