Tracking Lost Revenue
Handling dental patients rescheduling is a daily event. At least, for those who work at the dental front office. Patients schedule appointments for dental care. Then those same patients call to reschedule their appointments. The best you can hope for is that they give you at least 2 days’ notice. Because that’s what we ask.
How many of your patients reschedule short notice? Have you ever tracked this? I would give it a shot for at least 30 days. Why would you want to track this? To see if you can improve your lost revenue! Here’s how!
Track the amount of lost revenue by noting the procedure amount rescheduled. Only do this if you do not fill the appointment time with another procedure of equal or greater value. Only track the dollar amount you lost with each rescheduled appointment. Try this for both hygiene and restorative schedules. You can even track by provider to give you the best possible information.
Keep your tracking system simple. Maybe using a simple excel spread sheet with columns for each provider and day. Or if you have just one or two providers you would like to track, you could even print a daily schedule for each provider. Then, make notes right on the printed schedule. You can calculate your percentage of revenue lost at the end of the month.
When we focus our time and energy on something like this, we tend to improve the numbers. Just by paying close attention to what’s going on we get better. We notice things we didn’t notice before. We look for ways to make improvements. Track the numbers every month for a year. Then track year by year for comparison.
Handling Dental Patients Rescheduling Short Notice
Dental appointments rescheduled short notice cost the office the most. I’m going to define short notice as less than 2 business days. If a patient gives us 2 days’ notice, that’s an appointment time we can fill. The challenge for us is when we don’t have much time, and a million other things pulling on our sleeve.
Handling dental patients rescheduling short notice begins long before your patient calls to reschedule. It actually starts with the very first conversation. When a patient is scheduling an appointment, the “handling” begins. It’s the same for both new patients and existing patients. Whether you’ve seen a patient 100 times or it’s the very first time. There should be a conversation about rescheduling.
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Communication is key! Every time a patient schedules an appointment, we must communicate our expectation. “Mr. Jones, you are scheduled for Monday, June 3rd at 11 a.m. If you find that you need to reschedule that appointment, please let us know at least 2 business days before. Would you be able to give us two business days should you need to reschedule?” Pause. Wait for a commitment. “Thank you so much”.
Keep it short and sweet. There’s really no reason to make anyone uncomfortable during this conversation. But do wait for a commitment for two business days notice! You will say this same thing over and over during the day. Because you are going to say this with every appointment you make. If hygienists are making their own hygiene appointments, they will need to do the same.
Post this request on all patient materials. Be sure appointment cards have your reschedule request printed on them. You will also want a section of your financial policy or even a separate page for your Reschedule Policy in your new patient paperwork. Have your patient sign that they understand and agree to the policy. Not that you want to use this as a weapon. It’s really just one more way to communicate this.
There are always going to be dental patients rescheduling. And there are always going to be those dental patients who reschedule short notice. It doesn’t have to ruin your day. Putting some additional safety nets in place will help you save the day. Accepting that there are going to be appointment times to fill doesn’t mean it’s okay for patients to do whatever they want. The rules are still the rules. And we have a plan!
Continue to be kind to patients who reschedule short notice. At least the patient called and didn’t just break the appointment. Thank your patient for calling. Gently remind your patient when you reschedule “John, you are rescheduled on August 5th at 8 a.m. I do need to ask you to let us know at least 2 business days in advance if you need to reschedule. Dr. Brown’s schedule is booked out a ways and she really wants to take care of all of her patients. Thank you so much.”
Don’t give them the very next available appointment. Take control of the situation. Even if you have an open appointment in 2 days, don’t give this up now. You can always call your patient back and offer them this appointment time a little later. Ask your short notice patient if they would like to be called with appointment openings sooner. Then try to make it happen.
Your short notice call list is most important! This is how you will keep your production and revenue up. If you have built a strong call list and can move like appointments forward in the schedule, those short notice cancellations will actually be easier to take. You will even be making more patients smile as you offer them appointment times. There are always patients who are wanting to have their dental treatment done as soon as possible. You can even call patients who are not on your call list. Just look out into the schedule to see who might move!
Handling Dental Patients Rescheduling With Great Time Management
Open appointment times take priority. If an appointment opens today, we want to work on filling that time immediately. Everything else can wait. If an appointment time opens tomorrow, that certainly needs to be taken care of too. However, it is not quite as urgent as today. And 2 days out, gives us lots of time to make some magic happen.
The higher the appointment value is, the greater the priority. A rescheduled procedure with high value also takes priority of a lower value procedure. For example, if you have 2 appointments that rescheduled for tomorrow, which one do you work on first? The appointment that was of higher value gets filled first. Work to move like value appointments forward into that spot.
If you have to step away to take care of something else, return as soon as you can. Work to stay focused on filling any open appointment times before taking on any other projects. Sometimes, it is necessary to redirect your attention when the schedule just isn’t coming together. Confirmations might even be helpful in filling open appointments.
Unconfirmed appointments can sometimes mean a patient needs to reschedule. This is especially true with text confirmations. Any unconfirmed patients might just be waiting for your call. This could even be the patient that can take your open time today! Try not to let short notice reschedules or open appointment times upset you. Your job is to be the puzzle master and make it all come together. Enjoy the task and challenge at hand.
Make the most your time. Time is one thing we never get back. We put prices on time in our schedule. We use time to guide us through out day. It helps us know when we are supposed to do what. Great time management will pay off. Prioritize! Smile!