Hygiene appointments are the foundation of most general dental practices, so it is vital that you keep your schedule full and have plans in place for what to do when you have a last minute-cancellation or worse—a no show.
Instead of leaving your hygiene schedule up to a game of chance, use these strategies to have the most productive and profitable hygiene department.
- Schedule the patient’s next appointment while they’re in the office
This one is excellent for those who have the best of intentions for their dental health but aren’t great at actually remembering to set an appointment (*cough, me, cough*). By scheduling six months in advance when with the patient in person you have a better chance of fitting their appointment into their schedule. Plus, you can communicate the ways you will re-confirm the appointment when it gets closer.
Send multiple reminders via different modes of communication
Start with a reminder card in the mail with the time and date of appointment a month before the appointment and mention you will seek confirmation at a later date. Then utilize various modes of communication to seek a confirmation from the patient. Start with text or email and if you don’t hear back follow-up with a call—don’t just leave it up to chance that the reminders were enough.
Have a list of “last minute” patients
If you’ve tried to receive confirmation from a patient multiples times and still didn’t hear back within a week of their appointment, have a list of patients who’ve requested appointments at the last minute handy. You can try reaching out to any who are due for a visit to see if they’d like that spot if it becomes open.
Create a list of down time tasks
In the case of a no-show where a spot couldn’t be filled, have a list of tasks staff can work on to still be productive. This can be a great time for staff members to check that SDS sheets are current, to tidy up the supply closet, or to make sure all their patient data is up to date. Keeping on top of this type of work can ensure that your practice runs more efficiently.
Put someone in charge of recognizing “at risk” patients
One no-show or missed confirmation doesn’t mean the patient will miss future appointments, but with some it becomes clear that making and sticking to an appointment is not a strength for them. Having one person in charge of identifying these patients allows your office to make sure they receive a higher level of communication to ensure confirmation.
Incentivize patients to maintain their personal hygiene schedule
Unfortunately, the promise of a healthier mouth isn’t always enough of a reason for some patients to visit, so adding just a little extra value to an appointment can help keep patients on schedule. You can offer a few different incentives for good appointment attendance such as free or discounted whitening gel for every 6-month appointment they keep or have a “perfect attendance” raffle where every appointment that’s kept gets a patient entered into a drawing for a fun prize. Get creative and have fun with it! It can be a great way to keep a full schedule and connect with patients.
Being proactive with your appointment calendar instead of reactive with these simple tips can go a long way to ensuring you’re maximizing your practice productivity. If you have success with any or all of these strategies let us know. And if you’ve got other methods of maintaining a full patient schedule be sure to share!