Patient Cancellations Linked to the Practice Mission and Goals
When is the last time your team met to discuss your practice mission and goals? To have an action plan directly defining each team member’s primary objective to contribute to the success of the practice is imperative. Everyone needs measurable goals including the assistants, the front office scheduling coordinator, financial coordinator and other auxiliaries involved in the practice services. Let’s look at your system for cancellation prevention for instance.
If you still think that cancellations are the problem with the front office then you haven’t been connected to the reality of patient perceptions. Patients need to understand the impact that cancellations have on your practice. It is just not a minor inconvenience; it can derail the entire morning. When the dentist is diagnosing the recommended course of treatment a statement of the time commitment to getting good results is necessary, the assistant is responsible for communicating the benefits and answering questions about the care when the patient is in the treatment room. The scheduling coordinator will again reinforce the necessity and the benefits of the services and state the responsibility to the patient of keeping the appointment. “The amount of time necessary for your care is 2 hours. This time is reserved just for you. I am considering this to be a confirmed appointment unless you call me to reschedule before (date). We require a 48 hour notice to change this appointment because it will take that long to find someone to fill your place. Please be on time and bring_____. We look forward to providing you the best possible treatment.”
Follow-up to patients that cancel is also a team effort but the team must understand the practice vision and mission toward the patient. It is not just the responsibility of the front office team. It may be the front office making the call but the clinical team can support the call with helping create the message of the benefits and urgency of the care. In some practices, a member of the clinical team reaches out to the patient to make sure they understand the treatment and to help them to make the right decision regarding their care.
Team meetings are essential for communicating and moving the practice toward its goals for optimum patient care.