Missed appointments – an unfortunate yet inevitable part of running a dental practice.
All it takes is a patient a day to skew your numbers and leave you frustrated.
At Digital Resource, we understand that a patient base is a practice's lifeline. Without any repeat clients, it's going to be impossible for your clinic to thrive.
If your patients aren't showing up, it means there's a problem. But all issues have a solution. However, you must first find out why your patients aren't following through to do this successfully.
Identifying what makes your patients stay and what drives them away will give you an idea of how you should improve your services, offerings, and messaging.
Once you clearly understand what your patients want and need, you can implement customer retention strategies that are guaranteed to keep them loyal to your practice.
It's also the first step towards understating the lifetime value of a patient.
If a patient keeps missing their dental appointments, it's most likely because they don't see the point of seeing a dentist. They probably feel like brushing twice a day is enough to keep the cavities away, and they only need to see you when a tooth starts to hurt.
To combat misinformation, you create marketing campaigns that educate the public about the importance of seeing a dentist regularly. This can be done through social media, blogs, videos, and more.
When you have patients in your chair, you should also take the opportunity to educate them on why it is so crucial for them to keep their smiles healthy.
Discuss all the dental health problems you discover and the consequences if they choose to ignore these problems. Use visual aids to help your patients visualize what's happening in their mouths and how treatment can help them.
However, the education shouldn't stop the moment they walk out of your clinic. Continue to remind them and engage with them by sending out monthly newsletters, posting helpful content on social media, and even by publishing dental health-related blog posts.
A lot of patients think that it's okay to put off dental treatment. However, not knowing the dangers of skipping routine visits and postponing treatment can actually cause them to suffer severe complications and spend even more on treatment in the future.
During the height of the pandemic, it's totally understandable why a patient would choose to put off their appointment. But now that things are slowly going back to normal and safety precautions are in place, it's time to rebuild confidence and let them know that it's completely safe to see their dentist.
To do this, you want to show your patients the COVID-19 safety measures you observe in the clinic. You can disseminate this information in the form of a video through social media, email, and on your website.
Once you've established trust, it's time to create a sense of urgency. Tell them about the consequences of having built-up plaque on their teeth and how it can lead to tooth loss.
You should also urge your hygienists to speak with patients on the connection between the mouth and the rest of the body. As soon as your patients understand the importance of seeing you regularly, they won't dare to miss another appointment.
Not all patients are aware of the implications when they cancel their appointments at the last minute. They don't know how much of your time and resources are being wasted waiting for them.
So, you want to set clear policies that tell them that if they plan to cancel their appointment, they need to tell you ahead of time so you can replace their slot with another patient.
It's also essential to give them an idea of what goes on behind the scenes – the work that goes into every appointment – from the disinfection to preparing materials, etc.
We recommend you create a video montage showing patients what goes on behind the scenes of running a clinic, the work you and your staff put into every appointment, and whatnot.
It also helps if you give your patients a checklist of what they can expect or what they're going to get during their appointments. You can even include a brochure of your other services and other materials they can use to learn more about how to take better care of their smiles.
Doing this will go a long way in helping your patients understand the amount of work that goes into every appointment and why they should value your time as much as you value theirs.
If your clinic does not have a cancellation policy in place, the majority of patients will not hesitate to contact you to inform you that they will not be coming in.
That is why we recommend that you develop a process and explain it to patients ahead of time. You can send it through email or via text, whichever your patient prefers.
You should request that they cancel at least two days in advance so that the dentist can see another patient at the scheduled time.
Because your patients have a lot on their plates, it's easy for them to forget about a dentist appointment they scheduled a few months ago. That is why we recommend that you send them a text or email reminding them of their upcoming appointment.
Send a reminder a week before their scheduled appointment and then another one on the day of their appointment.
If they get reminded of their appointment, chances are, they won't miss it. Or they can sort stuff out to make sure they don't miss it. If they really can't make it, at least you'll know ahead of time. It'll be easier to fill in the empty slot and reschedule the patient.
Appointment rescheduling is both frustrating and costly. Educating patients will help them recognize the significance of their appointments and preserve their dental health.
We've provided you with a wealth of knowledge today, and we hope you've found it helpful. There is so much more to say about the lifetime value of a patient. But we hope we discussed enough to convey the importance of patient education.
At Digital Resource, we specialize in assisting dental clinics like yours to create a robust online presence in their neighborhood.
Contact us today, and we'll give you a free consultation and show you precisely what we can do for your dental office.
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