How do you get patients to buy into having a separate hygiene and Dr appointments? My patients don’t want to take off from work twice but they also don’t want to come to our office for two- hour appointments. And when we do accommodate them, the patient late cancels or doesn’t show which leaves us with a two-hour opening.
Hey I wouldn’t want to go to a two-hour appointment I didn’t think I needed either. And that gets to the crux of the problem. If a cardiologist or oncologist told you that you needed to make two appointments with their office, would you argue and try to negotiate with the staff that you don’t really need them? Not likely, because you would assume there must be a solid clinical reason why you need separate visits.
So, the first step is training your team on why patients need to see the Dr before hygiene and then making sure your front desk can express those benefits to the patient. What are the benefits? The front desk should explain that the practice’s philosophy is to ensure that patients save time and money. Use exactly those words because these are universal motivators. In order for the patient to save time and money, the dentist will do a thorough exam to make sure the patient gets the right kind of hygiene appointment. This statement can provide an educational moment for patients to learn there are different kinds of “cleaning” appointments. The more the front desk employee extolls the benefits of this, the more motivated the patient will be to show up to the appointment thus reducing your open hours.
And finally, if you really want to reduce new patient cancellations, call your new patients the day before their appointment. It can be a short conversation or message. You want to welcome them to the practice and that you look forward to seeing them. You can ask if they need directions to your office. By reaching out personally you establish a connection to the patient, signaling that you are a caring dentist. This 30 second call will make the new patient less likely to cancel.