Poor patient flow leads to unfilled appointments.
They’re time – and money – wasted.
Of course, you have plenty of things to occupy your time, but that’s not the point.
Running a business is always going to keep you fully occupied. But what you want is billable hours.
And unfilled appointments are frustrating because you’re not able to charge for that time.
You have plenty of patients on your books, it’s just that they don’t always come in consistently.
What you need is better patient flow.
You don’t need people slipping through the cracks. Dropping off you books. Or failing to complete their treatment.
It’s not good for their oral health, but it’s not good for your cash flow either.
And that’s what you want.
Good, consistent patient flow so you get good consistent cash flow.
It makes life easier for you, for your staff, and for your business.
But how do you create consistent patient flow? Can you create it?
Or do you have to sit and wait for the phone to ring?
I believe you can manage patient flow.
If you and your team work together, you should be able to keep your appointment book full.
So how do you do that?
Well, there are a number of ways, but I’ll give you a few to get started.
This list is not exhaustive. It’s not designed to be a comprehensive marketing plan.
It’s simply 7 ways to jump start patient flow.
1. Check Your Recalls
Check that all your recalls have been sent and follow up on nonresponses. You can also use an incentive to come in.
The sort of incentive is up to you, and will depend on your business and your brand. You could consider dental dollars or Viva Cards if that is appropriate for your ideal patient persona.
2. Reactivate Your Records
Take a look through your records and make a list of anyone who has not had an appointment in the last 18 months.
Audit the patient files. A healthy general practice will have approximately 1,500 patients per full-time general dentist.
Develop a script for the call before making it and again, consider an inducement to re-activate. It is about re-connecting and re-establishing the relationship.
3. Refer A Friend
Refer a friend programs are highly effective, particularly if you do them well. They can help you create more ideal patients.
The key is to approach current patients that you enjoy working with – your ideal patients – and make them feel special and valued.
Again, consider using Viva cards and rewarding the referral.
4. Complete Outstanding Treatment
Ask your Practice Manager to go through your files and look for any treatment that has been planned and not completed. Then make contact with those patients and invite them back into your practice to complete their treatment.
In order to do this well, it’s a good idea to develop a clear script before the call.
The key to doing this elegantly is to make the patient feel special. You don’t want to give them the impression that you’re trying to fill gaps in your appointment book.
5. Catch Out Of Hours Calls
Ensure that after hours calls are diverted to your mobile. Why?
Because these inquiries need to be converted into appointments. If a practice is open 9-5 Monday to Friday it is open for 40 hours per weeks.
That’s 40 hours of a possible 168 hours which represents 24% of the week. What happens in the remaining 76%??? Will people call out of hours…yes!! You need to capture these.
6. Turn Sales Reps Into Patients
When a sales rep tries to sell you something, have your receptionist let them know you’d be happy to do business with them and that you have a policy of doing business with those who do business with you.
Let the receptionist ask if they have a dentist and sing your praises before asking them if they would like to make an appointment.
7. Convert Cold Callers Into Raving Fans
You don’t have to be the world’s best salesperson to convert cold callers into raving fans. You don’t even have to use any slimy, salesy speech.
You really just need to give your callers the information they need, in addition to what they ask for.
Great telephone skills can convert inquiries to appointments, and then to loyal patients.
Kickstart Patient Flow
Filling your appointment book doesn’t have to involve an expensive external marketing strategy.
It can be as simple as tweaking your processes so you retain your existing patients.
In fact, your long-term strategy should be to develop deep, meaningful relationships with your patients.
Because it creates loyalty.
Patients who are fiercely loyal won’t consider seeing another dentist. And they’ll sing your praises to anyone who’ll listen.
So your loyal patients will not only be devoted and happy, they’ll be out there marketing your services.
And your appointment book? Well, you won’t be seeing gaps anymore.