No doubt your dental practice has a lot of metrics and data to track. Production and profitability are aligned with many of them, including unconfirmed dental appointments.
This scheduling quadrant can easily slip off your radar. But there’s a worthwhile amount of production value that can be achieved with knowledge and process control.
Appointment confirmation isn’t babysitting your dental patients
You might be tempted to step back from your confirmation strategy based on what you believe about your patients.
- 1-They’re adults and shouldn’t require hand-holding.
- 2-They’re responsible and capable of managing their time and commitments.
Either assumption could be true. And yet, there are occasions (perhaps all too frequently) when a schedule block falls apart because…well…a patient forgot, didn’t confirm, or simply didn’t show.
Why your dental patients (even the responsible ones) could use some advance notice
The best appointment confirmation systems have built-in assumptions about patient behavior. For example, seek to understand why patients require advance notice in the first place.
- Your patient isn’t emotionally motivated about their appointment or scheduled treatment.
- Your patient wasn’t completely upfront about their initial response to the treatment plan or the recommended follow-up appointment.
- Your patient has an unpaid balance, or they have unmentioned payment concerns going forward with the scheduled treatment/appointment.
These insights are worth considering as you analyze your confirmation strategy with the following questions:
Is your communication getting through to your patients?
- Confirm the accuracy of their contact information.
- Check the contact fields in your automated follow-up system.
- Validate that your contact system is up to date and functioning effectively.
Do you know your patient’s intentions?
Your patients might not feel obligated to let you know they will be there for their appointment.
- Adjust your communication to clarify the importance of confirming.
- Make sure the timing of your message is right.
Is it just another appointment in your patient’s mind?
A patient might not feel the weight of importance regarding their next appointment. Or they might have the impression that a confirmation isn’t necessary.
It’s a good idea to track your patient’s dental appointment history and mindset around their care. Good or bad motivation leaves clues.
Try this if your dental patient confirmation strategy could use some improvement
Establish a routine for reviewing and updating your patient database
Wrong numbers, returned emails, or communication “flags” are common. Use each as an immediate reminder to update your patient’s contact information.
- Create a check-in or checkout protocol that invites your patients to clarify their contact data.
- Know your patient’s preferences for communication. Do they prefer a phone call, voicemail, text, or email?
Personalize your patient communications
Some patients might identify with a specific front desk team member. Use that to your advantage by making sure that person is in the communication driver’s seat with the patient (when possible).
Your patient is more likely to follow through on an appointment confirmation if team member affinity is honored.
- Review your confirmation message narrative. Does it sound templated or natural and conversational?
- Personalize your messaging to ensure it sounds like it’s from a person (not a machine).
- Create a sense of obligation and anticipation in your message narrative.
Keep your patients informed about the value of treatment and oral health
There’s a psychological component to your patient’s relationship with their dental care, your care standards, and the patient experience as a whole.
- Tap into your patient’s motivations around their oral health. What emotional connections do they have to a particular service or treatment result?
- Highlight the systemic relationship between oral health and general health.
- Educate your patients via chairside conversations, consistent blog and social media content, and informational content such as monthly newsletters.
The more patients understand about dental care the more likely they are to follow through on appointment confirmations. Like scheduling and other patient dynamics, it pays to be intentional.
Check out the following related resources to deepen your dental patient relationships:
Data analytics are a valuable asset for your dental patient communication strategies
The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking useful patient data, the important metrics, and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice grows and expands.
Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!
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