Filling Dental Hygiene Openings Last Minute
Filling dental hygiene openings at the last minute can create some stress. But we can lessen that stress and improve our chances for success when we use the same system every time. You know I love systems! When we use systems, we don’t need to stop and think about what to do. We just follow the steps and let the systems do the rest!
Systems are Important
Systems are especially important in a busy environment. When we have a lot to do and not a lot of time to think about how to get it all done. It’s also extremely important to be organized. The last thing you want is to be searching for your call list. Or maybe you are trying to read someone’s handwriting in your call list. Keep things neat and organized at the front office, use this system, and you will find those last-minute openings are easier to fill.
Today Is Important!
Today is the most important day. When we have a hygiene appointment open on today’s schedule, it takes priority. All other tasks can wait. And we don’t give up on our schedule until we have worked through each of these steps in the system. Even then, we don’t really give up. We may have to take a break. But first we give it our best shot. And work our way through each rung up the ladder.
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Systems allow the front office team to move quickly. If it’s 10:00 in the morning, and a 2:00 hygiene patient calls with a family emergency, time is of the essence. And the less time it takes to fill that appointment, the better.
After all, there are many other tasks at hand. So, take the system I have for you here. And put it to use. Here is a checklist you can use until you get the system down. And it’s also a great way to train and support other team members or new administrative team members too.
Use some common sense as you make phone calls. Think about each individual patient you call and the time you offer them. Let’s jump back to that open appointment time today at 2:00.
Knowing a few things about your patients is going to help you here. For example, you don’t want to call a mom with young school age kids and offer her a 2:00 appointment time to her. A better fit might be a retired person.
Filling Dental Hygiene Openings Fast
The hardest times to fill can be those 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. slots. Know who is a good fit for different times of the day. It will save you so much energy as you work to fill appointments.
And you want to first reach out to those patients who get back to you pretty quickly or are easiest to reach. Every now and then you can be surprised by someone, but for the most part, we are creatures of habit. And we do well to know our patients a little!
What to Say!
With confidence we begin to make phone calls to fill our open appointment. And what we say is pretty important.
We definitely don’t want to say, “We have just had a cancellation.”
“We have had a last-minute opening”.
It’s much better to say, “We have a change in our schedule. I would like to offer you a hygiene appointment today at 2:00. Are you available?” Keep it light and fun and invitational! Tone matters!!
Watch Frequency Limitations when
Filling Dental Hygiene Openings
Be sure to check insurance benefits and frequency limitations. I’ve made the mistake of bringing a patient in too soon! It’s easy enough to do. Double check the insurance coverage.
And you want to be sure that those on a strict 6-month frequency are not in violation of their coverage. It will be something you regret later if they are! And easy enough to overlook when you are in a hurry.
You can even make it part of your script when you offer the appointment to your patient. Especially if they say “yes”. “Now do we need to consider your insurance coverage. Are you on a 6-month recall? What does your insurance coverage allow?”
This will give both of you the opportunity to explore this and shift the responsibility to the patient.
Your Call List & Beyond
The short notice call list is a great “go to” tool. This list will consist of patients who are already scheduled but would like to get in sooner. Or they may have a specific day or time of day they prefer. This list should also have patients who are not scheduled. If you know my 3-strike rule, you know what I’m talking about. Patients who cancel or reschedule 3 times in an 18-month window don’t get an appointment! They get to be on a call list to fill in an open time.
I have not included patients who are on a hygiene reactivation report here. If you follow my hygiene reactivation system, you are already on track with this group of unscheduled hygiene patients. But that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t reach out now. It’s just not the best time to begin working your reactivation system. Because it takes time to generate and become familiar with these reports. And the idea now is to move quickly!