Cancellations and missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations in any practice and result in lowered production and lost revenue. Cancellations and missed appointments are typically symptoms of other underlying problems. This may be a nonverbal way that the person is telling you that he or she is not satisfied with the service received.
Shown below are some suggestions to help reduce no-shows, cancellations and reschedules. The first key to controlling appointment compliance and smooth patient or client flow is for the receptionist to fully understand that the appointment book has been placed in their hands, and they are fully responsible for its handling. The following points will help the receptionist perform their duties in this regard:
- Ensure that you are fully aware of what the appointment policies of the practice are, and see to it that you are trained to apply those procedures.
- Utilize your “General Policy” statement to educate patients or clients on the necessity of keeping their appointments.
- You must have the honest and genuine attitude that you really care about this person, and you know why it is important for them to set and keep their appointment for their recommended care. You must be committed to good health and good service for the patient or client, and know that the appointment for the recommended treatment is necessary. Fully communicate this attitude with the person that you are talking to, especially when setting appointments.
- Always call any patient or client immediately if they do not arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled appointment. Find out from the person if something is wrong that caused him or her to miss the appointment. Convey a caring “time is valuable” attitude to the person, and let them know that you want to work with them to ensure that they can make it in.
- When a patient or client calls to cancel, investigate diplomatically to discover the real reason why they are canceling. Many times you’ll find it is a financial consideration, or a lack of understanding about why they need the recommended care.
- Really listen to what they are saying to you. In this way you will be able to work with the person to help resolve the real underlying problem. Never assume you know what the problem is. Work with your patients or clients to remove the barriers that are preventing them from adhering to the scheduled appointments. When you have found the real reason for the cancellation, you then must handle it so that the person does, in fact, keep the appointment.
Fill out the form to the right to continue to read this article: “Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II” (highly recommended).