The results are obvious–the higher the number of cancellations, the lower your monthly production. Not only do cancellations hurt the bottom line, but they are especially frustrating in busy months like July when many other patients are trying to get in. A filled clinic schedule at the beginning of the month can be a misleading indicator of your office’s success, because cancellations can leave gaping holes. True results come from the number of completed exams at the end of the month.
Actively working to fill cancellations will improve your bottom line, and it can also improve your level of service to your patients. For example, your office is booked out four weeks, which might be longer than some patients prefer to wait. However, on this day you receive word of three cancellations. By filling those cancellations with previously scheduled patients, you will get three patients into your chair tomorrow, and now your schedule has three open spots in the near future.
So how do you ensure that 25 appointment slots equal 25 patients who show up and complete an exam or encounter in a given day?
Ensure all appointment slots in a given day represent a completed exam.
- Train staff to put patients on the cancellation list. – All staff who schedule appointments by phone or online will need to be clear on how the office cancellation system works.
- Use software that allows your staff to communicate a new opening quickly and efficiently. We have chosen SolutionReach, but others also allow for this capability.
- Sync the cancellation list for all staff and locations, if applicable. – We use Ocuhub, which allows us to have synced folders (i.e., Dropbox). Unlike many folder-syncing software packages, Ocuhub is designed for optometry/ophthalmology and is 100 percent HIPAA compliant in protecting patient health information.
- Offer patients the opportunity to be contacted should an earlier appointment become available.
- Scheduling staff should listen for voice inflections or comments that indicate a patient is frustrated. Have them ask, “Would you like to be put on the cancellation list to get you in sooner?”
- Twitter allows the staff to tweet available appointments for the afternoon. @WichitaOptom
- Allow online scheduling. Schedule with Dr. Fleming.
Take advantage of the many opportunities to fill your schedule with patients instead of cancellations. Having a successful system in place will help fill in the non-producing gaps that every CEO faces in reflecting the end-of-month numbers.