No-Shows. They’re the bane of most medical and dental practices. They certainly drain resources and frustrate the clinical staffs. They aren’t profitable!
Yet no-shows continue to happen day after day, oftentimes leaving you feeling as if this situation is out of your control.
The good news is: You ARE in control. You CAN reduce your no-show rate and keep your schedule full.
Today I want to talk with you about ensuring that your new prospective patients who have booked an appointment (particularly those of an elective nature) actually keep their scheduled appointments.
(This is beyond the standard “call the day before as a reminder” tactics that you already use because let’s be honest, when people decide to flake on their appointments, they aren’t answering that day-before phone call either.)
The overarching goal is to court your prospective patients from the beginning (and continually through the process) to ensure they complete the consultation and don’t turn into a no-show.
You don’t have to wait and hope and pray that all your prospective patients make their appointments. Use these 3 practical steps to help you and your staff ensure your new-patient schedule doesn’t end up looking like Swiss cheese.
1. Book the Appointment Within 3 Days
The more time that lapses between the person calling to book the appointment and actually completing the appointment, the more likely that person is to no-show.
This trend holds true without fail, regardless of the market, the time of year or the size of the practice.
The general rule we use with all of our clients is to book the appointment within 3 days of the initial call.
If a potential patient calls you on a Tuesday, make sure that person is in your office experiencing VIP service and talking procedure options by Friday.
Ensure your phone counselors (or whoever is doing your booking) is aware of this new rule in your practice. If you need to open new consultation slots to ensure you can accommodate all new patients within the 3-day window, congratulations, that’s an excellent problem to have. DO IT.
2. Call the Patient Back Immediately After You Book the Appointment
So a patient calls for an appointment. Your phone counselor schedules it, thanks the caller for his or her time, says “Look forward to seeing you!” and gets off the phone.
All this is well and good, but the scheduling process doesn’t stop there.
Another tactic that has helped clients cut no show rates by half or more – call the prospective patient back immediately after you get off the phone with him/her.
Seriously, call right back to provide an extra piece of useful information.
This does a few things:
1. This verifies the caller was a real potential patient using a real phone number vs. a competitor secret shopping you and providing fake information (this happens often!)
2. It creates another event in which you’re being helpful to the prospective patient. With the intro call and the call back, you’ve already served this person twice in a matter of minutes. i.e. the call back accelerates relationship growth.
But what do you say? Here’s our go-to:
“Mr. Jones, it’s John Doe at XYZ Medical Center, and I wanted to let you know where you can find the maps on our website to ensure you have no trouble finding us…”
Or let them know your building is adjacent to the hospital parking lot so they can easily find your practice.
Or tell them to take Elm Street since Booker Street is under construction and may cause a traffic headache.
FInd something to offer the patient and JUST CALL BACK.
3. Email the Patient a Thank You and Follow-Up
If your phone counselor did his or her job, you now have this prospective patient’s email address. Do something useful with it!
Email the patient a personalized follow-up to the call.
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thanks so much for calling today! I am sending the details of your appointment time as well as a few other items you may find useful.
- Link to FAQ on your website
- Link to map on your website
I also included a link to the AMP video I mentioned. This provides a great overview of the procedure, and it’s something you can easily share with family and friends who may have questions for you during the process! – *LINK*
Feel free to reply with any questions you may have.
Otherwise, see you on DAY, DATE, at TIME!
Jane at Dr. John Doe’s Office
This is yet another touchpoint to let the prospective patient know you care and you’re thinking of them.
Combining all three of these elements will help your practice drop those no-show rates like a bad habit.
What other tips do you have for eliminating no-shows? Leave them in the comments below!
Author: Troy Cole, Director of Account Services