Don’t you love that feeling you get when you check tomorrow’s schedule and see that it’s jammed packed with treatment? It’s exciting to see all that production on the schedule, isn’t it? Well, what about that feeling when those patients don’t show up? That feeling kind of stinks doesn’t it?
I don’t know how missed appointments make you feel, but they really burn me up inside. I hope they burn you up too-especially since MOST missed appointments can be PREVENTED. I never thought this was true. I used to think that missed appointments came with the territory, but it’s certainly not the case. You can improve your patient attendance rate by following a few strategies.
I spent a lot of time analyzing each and every missed appointment in our office and found that often times, patients didn’t come in for treatment because when the time came, the patients didn’t have the money for it. A lot of patients would just rather not show up than say, “I don’t have the money” or more realistically, “I was hoping to have the money, but I spent $200 at Target and $800 on a big screen TV at Best Buy that I didn’t really need.”
Unfortunately, a lot of people just aren’t very good with prioritizing where their money should be spent. For some reason, many people don’t think twice about dropping $200 on an ottoman, picture frames, and colorful plastic patio cups at Target, but ask them to spend $150 on a copay and they look at you in disbelief. When did our priorities get so out of whack? Why do so many people grumble about paying for their HEALTH and not think twice about going to a restaurant or to the mall? The truth of the matter is that it all comes down to value. People will spend their money on what they think is important to them. I think oral health is important. I also think that my overall health is important. I don’t give my eye doctor a hard time about my copay, because I value her, her office, and my eyes! I also work in dentistry, so I probably think a little differently about this than most people walking around outside. A lot of those people don’t view oral health the way I do. I’ve never missed an appointment for any of my doctors, but again, because of what I do for a living, there is nothing more important than taking care of my health and not complaining about my copays in the process.
What I’ve discovered is that because many people out there don’t value their health the way I value mine, we have to CREATE that value for them. One of the easiest ways to make yourself more of a priority to your patients is to collect payment BEFORE the day of treatment. By collecting payment ahead of time, your patient now realizes that you are pretty important and that your time should be taken seriously. Congratulations-you’ve just jumped to the top of their priority list! What do you think happens to your schedule when patients prepay for treatment? Those patients will show up. Ask me how I know.
It’s time to stop getting mad when patients no show and to start doing something about it.
So then, you will know about tomorrow…it is knowing…it is knowing…