With any chiropractic office, one of the greatest hurdles to overcome is in getting patients to show up for their appointments. Forgotten or missed appointments equal lost business, as well as having to pay staff for unnecessary “downtime”. It happens every day, but there are ways to put the odds back in your favor that your patient will remember and keep the appointment.
These days, it is simply not enough just to hand your patient a reminder card of their next appointment and expect that your client will show up. Appointment cards become easily lost at the bottom of a purse or on the mound of paperwork at the kitchen table.
Become a Master at the Skill of Scheduling Appointments
Scheduling appointments is necessary to increase patient show up rates. We all understand this in the medical industry. However, sometimes when a patient calls, the receptionist may get sucked into a patient’s interrogations. The patient may want to know how much it will cost, how long it will take, etc. All of these questions are valid, but if you stick to the scheduling and tell the patient that they will have an opportunity to ask all of these questions once they arrive, then you can skate around it. Your job – and only job – is to get them into the office. The other questions and matters can be handled by the appropriate staff members who are trained and prepared to help the patient through these questions.
Here are three strategies to increase the likeliness of a patient showing up:
- If possible, schedule the patient to come within 24 hours of their initial call. When a patient is in pain, they don’t want to wait days or weeks to come in for help. If you cannot get them in to see a doctor right away, you risk losing them to another medical provider who is more available.
- If the patient is a repeat client, always send a reminder card a week prior to the appointment. Then, follow up again with a personal phone call the day before they are scheduled to make a visit. This is very effective, as it can jog their memory of the scheduled visit, as well as giving them an opportunity to make changes, if need be. If the person cancels or reschedules, always call other patients on your waiting list. Someone may be happy to jump at the chance to come in sooner, rather than having to wait, especially if they are in pain. If you make your reminder calls three or four days in advance, your show-up rates will drop by as much as 50%! This is a critical step in reinforcing the patient’s commitment to come.
- The last vital bit of advice to increase patient show-up rate is to obtain all of the patient’s information when they do call. This is especially true for patients who call in from your website or get referred by another provider. For example, if they hurt their back and had a referral from an attorney to come in and see your practice, they may have several names to call upon. Therefore, you need to make sure they choose your practice and not another doctor. You can do this by extracting all of the patient’s information when they call. Ask for their name, address, phone number, email, etc. After you end the phone call, always follow up with a friendly email that introduces the new patient to your clinic. You want to earn their trust immediately and let them know how much you care about them, even before you meet for the first time. You should have a standard greeting that is friendly, yet personalized. “Thank you for calling to set up an appointment for _____ date. We are confident that we can help you feel better and look forward to serving you with the highest quality care.” Obviously, the more details you can customize, the better off you will increase your odds of the patient coming in at their scheduled time.
Personalization and follow-up is the nature of the game when it comes to increasing show-up rates at your practice. If you follow these 3 valuable pieces of advice, you should notice dramatic results in both your new patient stats, as well as repeat clients.