No-shows and missed appointments have always been an issue for dental practices. There’s even a joke about how the first dental patient in history didn’t even make it to their appointment.
But in today’s world, a missed appointment or no-show has a much bigger impact on your practice. It leaves gaps in a schedule that is already reduced to allow for proper cleaning and sterilization between patients. It adds on to the expenses you’ve already shelled out for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and investment in sterilization equipment.
Fortunately, there are safeguards you can put in place to eliminate no-shows. Here are a few ways to ensure that chair stays full.
Here are some quick and easy tips on how you can eliminate no-shows in your dental practice.
1) Make your practice feel like a safe spot for patients
People generally dread going to the dentists under normal circumstances, but now there’s the added risk of exposure to COVID-19. There are many ways to alleviate a patient’s fear, but it starts with better communication and education. Use targeted emails, website information, and patient portals to communicate the steps your practice has taken to ensure the safety of your patient and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during in-person visits.
If you’re looking for the right words, you can download RevenueWell’s COVID-19 Pandemic Precautions Package with pre-made emails, posters, and social media graphics to let your dental patients now it’s safe to see you again.
2) Digitize your patient intake with electronic forms
Get rid of the clipboard and allow your patients to complete registration and other forms online before their appointment. Check-ins will be contactless, in line with COVID-19 safety protocols, and the information flows right into your practice management software, saving your team time, money (no more paper and filing-related expenses), and effort, and reducing transcription errors.
In the webinar, How to Win More Patients Over the Phone, RevenueWell founder Alex Nudel said: “Patients who fill out forms are a lot more likely to come in. In fact, 98% of patients who take time to fill out forms online will make their appointments.”
And it is a fact. In completing their forms before an appointment, a patient has already committed themself. They’ve also successfully tackled the first part of their visit and now can show up on time (rather than 15 minutes early) knowing you’ll be fully prepared for them.
There’s also a mental component to digital forms. In sending these out, you show patients just how much you care about their experience in your office. You want them to feel relaxed from the moment they step in the door. You’ve given plenty of lead time and set expectations for a lovely, comfortable visit.
3) Introduce teledentistry
During the COVID-19 crisis, teledentistry was a necessity. In the new normal, dentists can leverage it to extend how they deliver care. Some practices will have complete arms of remote services. You can choose to move all triage and consultations to be performed remotely or make all routine post-op visits virtual.
Offering the patient an option to receive your treatment in the comfort of their living room or office will give them one less reason to rethink or opt out of their dental appointment.
CTA: Discover how you can communicate and provide virtual care for your patient’s urgent oral health and dental problems with RevenueWell Virtual Office
4) Take your reminder game to the next level
Reminders can be an effective way to reduce patient no-shows.
Start with a postcard. Follow up with an email. Fire off a text the week prior to their appointment. Send a phone reminder a few days before. And then, if the patient still hasn’t confirmed the appointment, send a same-day reminder on the morning of.
Now, it’s important to remember to cut down on the reminders in your recall campaign once a patient confirms that they’ll be in for their scheduled appointment. But up to then, find a way to engage with them.
RevenueWell users have full access to our extensive library of ready-to-go, customizable campaigns.
5) Offer prepaid appointments
When pre-appointing patients, give them the option to pay for their treatment early. Not only does this upend your collections and accounts receivable model (paying before the treatment rather than 30, 60 or 90 days later), it also helps eliminate no-shows.
If somebody has already paid, they will show up. There is no stronger commitment to an appointment than plunking down cash in advance.
Timing is key. You could propose it when scheduling a future appointment during checkout. Simply ask the patient if they’d like to pay up front. You might be surprised by the amount of people who’d rather get that cost out of the way—one less thing to think about.
Another way to encourage patients to prepay for appointments is to provide an online payment portal. Make it easy for them to pay.
If you choose to schedule and accept prepaid appointments, be sure to inform patients.
Have schedulers fold this value prop into their script. Include it in your welcome packets. Market it in your monthly newsletters. Even send a once-off email to inform all your patients that they can pay beforehand if they want.
Again, prepayment not only helps eliminate no-shows and cancelations, but it also benefits your revenue cycle.
6) Show appreciation to your patients
This last tip might seem like common sense, but sometimes the best solutions are the ones right in front of us.
Thank every patient for making it to their appointment, for scheduling, for showing up, and for being a valued member of your dental family.
Express how much they mean to you.
When scheduling, tell each patient that they’re the most important person in your team members’ lives from the moment they walk into your practice. People may not know just how important it is to you that they keep their scheduled appointment.
Make patients feel good about how well they’ve treated you. Do this, and everyone leaves the day feeling great.
Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.