Strengthen Your Appointment Control

Minimize Cancellations

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). Scroll to top


Fill out the form to continue reading this article Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II (highly recommended).

The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys

Surveys can save you time and wasted effort. By properly utilizing surveys, you will not be shooting in the dark when you implement a new idea. You will not be left wondering why people are not coming back to your practice. You will know what your public needs and wants, so you can provide exactly that.

Have you ever come up with a “great” new idea, implemented it, and when nothing significant or productive occurred as a result, found yourself tearing out your hair wondering what went wrong? Or even worse, tearing out the hair of your staff because “new patients are down!”

Have you pondered over why new patients have dropped off even though you’re doing the same things that you have always done? It might be possible that the things you and others have been doing for many years are no longer effective. These scenarios are likely due to a failure to survey.

There are answers to marketing problems that you simply cannot procure from any source other than your clients/patients themselves. The motto in marketing is “know before you go,” if you don’t “know,” what the problem is, your patient surveys will tell you where to “go”.

Constructing the Survey

Although surveys will vary from practice to practice, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Indicate to your patient why you are doing a survey, and thank them for participating.
  2. Ask only relevant questions in your survey. Restrict your questions to important factors that will actually tell you if what you are doing is effective, or actions you can change for the better.
  3. Keep the survey brief. Write the survey so that it takes no more than 3-5 minutes to complete. If the survey is too long, your patients may feel annoyed, overburdened, bored or will not respond.
  4. Construct a survey that asks for specific answers. Create questions that provide you with information rather than having only “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. Allow patients the option to remain anonymous if they so choose.
  6. Provide a way for them to receive a response to their questions or input if they desire.
  7. If appropriate, set a deadline for the receipt of the surveys. Tell participants why you have a deadline and when it is.
  8. Graciously thank your patients for taking their time to fill out the survey.
  9. For mail-out surveys, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Recipients will be much more likely to send it back to you.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top


Fill out the form to continue reading this article The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys – Part II (highly recommended).

Public Relations and Social Responsibility

This article concerns the benefits of getting out of the office and getting actively involved in your community. Whether it’s sponsoring your local little league team, encouraging your area’s children’s museum to do an eye screening or “Celebration of Smiles” dental-health day, you can make a positive contribution that solidifies your place in the community.

Many people volunteer with no expectation of anything in return, other than the personal sense of value, worth and integrity that comes from helping out their neighbors. You can feel great AND grow your practice through the word of mouth referrals that can come from this activity, making it easily worth the investment of your time and money.

One definition of public relations is “good works made well known.” Many practices try to do this through a variety of marketing methods, sometimes spending a substantial amount of money doing so. While we recommend lower cost and higher return internal marketing activities, we also help our clients look for community activities that not only help those involved, but also create goodwill for the practice. This is an excellent and inexpensive way to market a practice.

Larger companies understand how important it is to be active in their communities. Socially responsible companies build brand loyalty by sponsoring events and non-profit projects. People like to know that their money is going to a company that “walks the talk” and works to make the world a better place.

I’m sure you’ve seen many examples of this such as your local bank sponsoring charities or other non-profit activities in your area. This concept is no different for a doctor’s practice. Giving of your time, money and personnel to actively work with local causes is a terrific way to build loyalty among current and future patients. Many employees also report a greater sense of pride working for an office that is making a difference in their communities.

Some examples include: providing free emergency services or services in general for the underprivileged, donating finances and/or labor for local cleanup efforts, or manning bins at local food drives. The list goes on and on! Read your local newspaper or Craigslist to stay in touch with the types of activities that are going on in your area that you can contribute to, or think of your own, like offering free health screenings at libraries, schools, etc.

Larger companies do not miss the public relations benefit of being socially responsible, so why should your practice?

Ask your staff what sort of programs they would like to support. Your practice could donate time at a local summer fair doing a food drive. This type of project can be a bit more involved in terms of time and commitment, but has a huge impact in the community. The staff can wear t-shirts with the practice’s name on it for extra marketing value.

Although a community depends on the private practice for daily healthcare, the private practice also depends on the community for its livelihood. So, whether it is by financial contribution or by personal effort, get out there and get involved! The returns will be felt by everyone in the practice.

As Hot Tips is read by over 10,000 subscribers every month, this Hot Tip is dedicated to those people that are active in their communities doing what they can to help.

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