Dental Hygiene appointment cancellations are an epidemic globally for dental offices around the world.
We can hang our hats on any number of reasons and say “it’s just the economy,” but that doesn’t solve the problem.
We can examine our methods and technologies regarding how we reach patients with our confirmation systems — postcards, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, etc.
Today I want to bring something concrete to you. I will talk a lot more about contacting your patients on the webinar tomorrow night.
Let’s talk about building value for the dental hygiene appointment and exactly what is said to the patient upon seating your patient, what is said to them during their examination, and also during the treatment planning phase. What does the hand-off at the end of an appointment look like, sound like and feel like to your patient?
A properly completed debrief at the end of an appointment gives patients the valuable reason they should and will return for their next appointment.
Your patient debrief at the end of each appointment is not just about the post-operative instructions, but this is the conversation where patients receive answers to their “why, who, what, and when” questions.
Do your patients really understand what was done at today’s visit? Patients need to understand the why it is so important for your patient to return for periodontal maintenance (since this epidemic seems to be hitting the dental hygiene department most severely) AND just as important is the why a healthy patient needs to return routinely. (Hint: oral health means for most people a longer and healthier life)
Also it is important for patients to understand when their next routine dental hygiene appointment occur. And, why should their routine (or periodontal maintenance) appointment occur during this specific period of time? For some patients it may even mean they will need to return in eight weeks not twelve weeks. For some it may now mean four months not six months. Does your dental hygiene patient understand WHY this is being recommended?
All these issues should be addressed during the debrief – communication – with your patient.
This debrief will require a simple and open-ended closing question. Here is an example of what an open-ended question may sound like: “What questions or concerns can I address for you about the treatment recommendations we discussed today?” This type of question allows patients to share any concerns they might have about making the next appointment. Make sure you’re sitting “knee to knee and eye to eye” with the patient, not multi-tasking by cleaning your operatory during the very important debrief!
Is this a silver bullet solution to the cancellations and no shows? No it is not! This is only an essential ingredient to a recipe that will lead to great patient relationships.
I will talk more on our webinar about a process to engage with your patients which is full circle = 360 degrees.
See you Tuesday night on our webinar. October 14th @ 8 p.m. Eastern