Anyone whose job includes seeing clients or patients for a living understands that no-shows are one of the most difficult and irritating parts of the job. There are numerous reasons why a patient may be a no-show to an appointment. We all understand busy schedules, so it’s likely that a client may forget. Clients may find it difficult to keep appointments if they have anxiety surrounding dental work, struggle with the cost of a dental visit or if their appointment gets lost in the day-to-day hustle and bustle.
If you’re searching for ways to combat patient no-shows due to reasons like forgetful or fearful patients, try these ideas to lessen patient no-shows, increase your profits and improve your patient care.
Almost everyone has heard another person say they are scared of the dentist. Chances are, if you’re the dentist, you’re wondering why people think you’re that bad. Fear of the dentist is normally caused by negative past experiences.
Consider for a moment that you’re not in a dentist office, but in a restaurant setting. You enter the restaurant and wait at the door for someone to greet you and show you to a seat. It takes a few minutes for anyone to acknowledge you’re there. When a staff member finally shows you to your table, you wait even longer for someone to bring you a menu or take your drink order. The restaurant feels unkempt and your meal is low quality. You feel like you’re being ignored and when you are acknowledged, the staff is less than friendly. Considering the poor service, it’s not likely you’ll return to that restaurant again. And you certainly aren’t going to recommend it.
In the same way, your patients should also be thought of as customers that can choose your business. Or, choose another dental practice. If patients feel at ease with you and your dental staff, they’re more likely to be more comfortable when you’re assisting them with their dental hygiene. From the moment a patient walks in the door of your practice, an impression is being made.
Patients are less likely to feel nervous or afraid of having dental work when:
- they are met with a clean and welcoming environment
- greeted warmly
- they are shown gentle and effective care
Many patients may make appointments and decide not to keep them if they feel they can’t afford their care. It may be easier for a patient to no-show an appointment rather than call to cancel and feel pressured to reschedule when they know they can’t afford the service. And that may be because of the following reasons:
- they have an insurance lapse
- don’t have insurance at all
- worried about co-pays or deductibles
Patients who frequently miss appointments for fear of the cost may end up needing more extensive dental work. Which, can ultimately lead to a much bigger cost for their care.
To offset worries and stress for the patient, staff at your practice can assist patients by researching what procedures are covered by insurance and what the expected cost may be, depending on their coverage. Even patients without insurance can benefit from alternative payment options. This is to ensure they are able to get the dental care they need while keeping costs as low as possible.
If possible, offer discounted self-pay options for customers paying costs out-of-pocket. Even patients with insurance could appreciate different payment methods like financing options or monthly payments.
Prioritize Patient Relationships
Patients feel connected when their care is prioritized through things like great customer service and concern for their finances, so they may be more likely to keep dental appointments when they feel you are providing the personalized service they are seeking. Monthly newsletters going out to your patients via email is one way to ensure strong relationships. Patients will be able to feel like they are still staying up to date about things happening at your practice. These include policy changes, updated hours, periodic special offers or new staff.
Social media marketing can also be a great way to ensure patients are connected with your practice. There are few people who don’t have social media, so chances are, if patients are made aware they can see everything you’re up to as they’re scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, they will gladly give you a like and a follow. Social media platforms are also a great area for patients to review your business, which can easily attract new patients.
No ideas to enhance your patient’s experience in your dental office will eliminate no-shows entirely. Focusing on increased patient customer service, decreasing patient financial worries and prioritizing relationships are just a few ways to try and reduce the number of no-shows at your practice.
After reading these ideas, you can brainstorm more ways to lower your number of no-shows and check out other ideas from PPO Negotiation Solutions to make your dental practice as successful as possible!