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6 Tips for Minimizing Broken Appointments- Part 2

Kathy Anderson, Director of Client SuccessBy Kathy Anderson, Director of Client Success

In a previous post discussing tips for minimizing broken appointments, I wrote about three cycles of communication: at the time of diagnosis, listen to the patient's concerns, and financial discussion. The following are three more important tips for minimizing broken appointments.

4.  Give patients options when scheduling the appointment. Give them 2 choices in your appropriate block and if your blocks allow, give them a choice of afternoon or morning.  The kiss of death is to ask a patient when they would like to come in.  It can immediately set you up to have to say no to the patient or upset the clinical team.  Also, let the patient know the length of their appointment. If you sense any hesitation from the patient make sure to stop and address the issue.  It is much better to have a patient leave and not schedule than to reserve an appointment that they are more than likely going to cancel.

5.  Be clear in your language when scheduling the appointment. The language used can easily communicate one of 2 things.  Depending on your language, it can either seem to be a tentative arrangement or a confirmed appointment. The following are examples of tentative and confirmed appointments.

  • Tentative Appointment
    Thank you Mrs. Bragg, we will see you Tuesday, January 6 at 9:00am. We will call to remind you a couple of days before. Have a great day.
  • Confirmed Appointment
    Thank you Mrs.  Bragg, so we have reserved January 6 at 9:00 for yours and Dr Briggs appointment.  I will let Dr Briggs know and we will go ahead and order all the material for your appointment.  At this point, Mrs. Bragg, we consider this appointment confirmed and we will not give this time to any other patients.  Will you still need a phone call before the appointment? (Document) We look forward to seeing you.

6. The Confirmation Callis also important.

  • Here is an example of a good confirmation call:
    Hi Mrs. Bragg, This is Kathy from Dr Briggs office, we are all prepared for the time you reserved with Dr. Briggs, Tuesday, January 6, all of the materials have arrived for your appointment and we look forward to seeing you.
  • These are examples of tentative confirmation calls:
    “We are calling to remind you of your appointment”

    “Please call us back to confirm this appointment”

    “Please call us if you have questions or problems with this appointment”

Broken appointments and no shows are manageable if your communication includes these six elements of the communication cycle.  You should be able to stay in the healthy range and enjoy hearing the phone ring.

View 6 tips for minimizing broken appointments - Part 1.