Many dental offices around the country are experiencing slowdowns. In some cases patients are changing appointments, new patient flow is decreased, patients are changing their minds about previous treatment plans, or they’re choosing to do only what their insurance will pay. These stories are not region specific. They run from the East to West coasts, and from North to South. The general feeling is that schedule openings have increased since the September 11 tragedy and the slowdown of the economy.
- cancellation into opportunity
- drill into prepare
- hole in the schedule into time available
- bleaching into whitening
- quadrant scaling into periodontal therapy
- a bad day into an uncomfortable moment
- “What insurance will pay” into “Happily apply benefits to your account”
- Just, but, however—eliminate these.
INCOME CENTERS/SERVICE MIX
Are you aware of your service mix? Simply put, this is a listing of all services and products provided in the practice. One of the most powerful monitors within your office is the production by procedure report generated by most dental software programs. This report will tell you the quantity, dollar amount, and percentage of mix each procedure represents. Use this report to discover your primary income centers, and set targets for new income centers. Set production goals by day, week, and month, and use this report to analyze each revenue stream. If you are not focusing on the services that reward both you and your patients, then you need to change your focus and start recommending specifics to your patients.
Step 1. Patients must receive a reminder card by mail 2 to 3 weeks prior to their scheduled appointment. These cards are sorted and mailed out each week. They should also have appropriate verbiage referring to their appointment as a reservation rather than an appointment. Remind the patient that he reserved this appointment for his professional cleaning either 3, 4, or 6 months ago. This helps to reiterate the importance of keeping it. Never say on the card that it’s okay to reschedule.
Many offices complain about new patients calling and scheduling appointments and then not showing up. Here’s a powerful and unique way to create value for these patients before they come into your office and to decrease broken appointments at the same time. The scheduling coordinator creates a list each Thursday afternoon of the new patients to be seen the following week. The list includes name, phone number, referral source, and date of appointment, and is given to the doctor. The doctor calls each patient to introduce himself, ask if there are any concerns, and let the patient know how much the office is looking forward to his visit. This simple phone call takes less than 2 minutes and works wonders in eliminating new-patient broken appointments.
As a nation we may be slowing economically, however, in dentistry we can still make treatment affordable and keep our patients healthy. You must monitor your departments, pay close attention to your systems, and continue to let your patients know how much you care about them. In turn, they will do whatever they can to be great patients for you. Not only will you survive a downturn in the economy, you will come out of it smelling like a rose.
Ms. Sooy is a coach with Hygiene Mastery and has over 21 years’ experience as a hygienist and business leader within her practice in Cheney, Wash. For a complimentary assessment of your hygiene department service mix, contact Hygiene Mastery at (888) 347-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.