Hygiene cancellations and no-shows can be a REAL problem. And beyond the negative effect on office morale, they can also cost a practice tens of thousands of dollars a year. Think about it. If you have just five cancellations or no-shows a week that go unfilled, at an average of $125 an appointment, that $625 a week, $2700 a month and over $30,000 a year!
To that end, a set policy on reminder and confirmation procedures for your Hygiene Department can go a long way to avoiding these missed appointments. So, in this week’s post we wanted to share a simple but effective, Hygiene Department reminder and confirmations guide. This guide comes from our online training platform, DDS Success, specifically from our Scheduling Coordinator Training Course. You can find out more at www.ddssuccess.com.
(Related: 6 Steps to a Productive Hygiene Department)
We also cover this information at our Scheduling for Production Seminar that we deliver in Florida and New York.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. REMINDER PROCEDURE
A. Recall cards go out 4 weeks before the patient’s scheduled appointment.
B. You would follow up with phone, text or email reminders 2 weeks before the patient’s appointment.
Note that these are “reminders.” You’re reminding a patient that they scheduled this appointment as far back as six months ago. In many cases if the patient cannot make that date, they may call/contact you during the reminder procedure to reschedule.
(Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Hygiene Cancellations and No-Shows)
2. CONFIRMATION PROCEDURES
A. The first confirmation call or text is made three (3) days before the patient’s scheduled appointment. When speaking with the patient, you would begin all confirmation calls by identifying yourself & the office and that you’re calling to confirm their appointment for the day (of week), date and time. If the patient is scheduled for Thursday, you would make this call on Monday. If the patient does not respond or confirm, you would move onto the second confirmation call.
B. The second confirmation call or text would be made in the afternoon two (2) days before the patient’s appointment is scheduled. If no response, you would move on to the final confirmation call.
(Related: Why Your Hygiene Department Isn’t Growing Like it Should Be)
C. The final confirmation call (it’s always a phone call), would be in the morning, one (1) day before the patient’s appointment is scheduled. Again, the final confirmation should be a phone call not a text. If you must leave a message on this final confirmation call, make sure you tell the patient that what time you need to hear back from them that afternoon. Depending on your office policy, if the patient does not call back, you might put another patient in that time slot to ensure the Hygienist does not have any open time. If you fill that slot, your office should have a procedure in place just in case the patient that didn’t confirm still shows up. It can happen, so it’s important to be prepared.
(Related: Should You Hire a Full-Time Scheduling Coordinator?)
And a reminder: as the Scheduling Coordinator, it’s important to be aware of how HIPAA applies to the confirmation and reminder procedures. Work with your Office Manager to ensure you do your part to help the office stay in compliance.
What should do you do when the patient calls to cancel their appointment?
So, what do you do when a patient calls to cancel their appointment? You could have the best reminders and confirmations in the world, but you’d still come across a patient who calls to cancel their appointment every now and then. For quick tips on filling a last minute Hygiene opening, see the article 9 Ways to Fill That Last Minute Hygiene Opening.
A full outline of what to do when a patient calls to cancel their appointment can be found in our Schedule Coordinator Training Course on our online training platform at www.ddssuccess.com. Here’s a preview of one of the lessons about handling cancellations:
I hope these tips can help minimize cancellations and no-shows in your practice. Again, I highly suggest coming to the Scheduling for Production Seminar in Florida or New York, and if you can’t make those events, then subscribe to our online training at www.ddssuccess.com. And, as always, if you need any help, call us at (800) 640-1140.
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