While working with private practice owners, the following statement comes up quite often in our consultations:
“If I could just take control of my cancellations…”
As an owner, it can be extremely frustrating when same-day cancellations are high. High cancellations affect the bottom line. They can make it hard to know when to hire someone new and, prevent you from growth. At times, they can make us crazy because we feel like we are bleeding patient visits and if we have high same-day cancellations. And guess what…we are!
Same-day cancellations frustrate me most when I cannot get someone else in for care. And that is usually the case because, as I tell my clients, today is THE hardest day to fill! People already have their plans for the day so getting them to change plans and make an appointment same-day can be very tough.
We run a very busy clinic so open time slots are valuable. Losing a spot to someone cancelling same day limits who we can call on short-notice and it keeps another patient from getting the care they need. Essentially 2 people did not get the care they need when a patient cancels same-day. That bothers me most. This is where having a good systems comes in place.
Preventing missed visit opportunities became my mission in 2012.
I studied why patients cancel and developed a program in our clinic focused on prevention of missed visits.
Let’s talk about why patients same-day cancel. It basically comes down to one thing:
They don’t understand what you need from them so they don’t follow your expectations.
We live in a very different society than we did 20 years ago (or even 10 years ago). People are moving at a faster pace, are more distracted by technology, and they are just “so busy” they don’t always make the time to take care of themselves the way they should.
One way or another, a patient who misses their appointment doesn’t understand how important it is that they show up. Either they didn’t hear what we said or we didn’t make it clear. In order to prevent same-day cancellations and no-shows, we have to make it clear to our patients that they’re not acceptable. Period.
There are specific actions you can take to prevent same-day cancellations and no-shows:
- Confront it. You can’t fix it if you don’t know if it is broken; so track and measure your arrival rate on a daily basis. Your front desk won’t take responsibility for this action until they are the ones tracking and measuring it. So, set this as an expectation.
- Focus on Prevention. Often, we focus on handling patients after they’ve same-day cancelled or no-showed. At that point, we now have a problem and we’re working to correct it. But when we focus on preventing same-day cancellations and no-shows, we’re preventing problems before they happen. So, focus on preventing same-day cancellations and no-shows. My training is proven to help you do this.
- Create Policy. Make the attendance policy known to staff, patients, and clients. If you assume that your staff and patients know what your expectations are, you’ll be proven wrong. You must post it and instruct them. Remember, no education = no results.
- Have Standard Procedures. Have specific procedures staff should follow. If you don’t set the standard, they won’t have anything to follow. And you won’t have a way to hold them accountable. They need you to set the standard and make sure they follow it.
- Train them ALL. This is your key to SUCCESS. Don’t hand them a script. They need you to provide training that covers stats, policy, procedure and also includes practice. Without it, they’ll do their own thing. So, all front office staff should be trained and drilled on cancellation prevention and also on proper patient handling. (Not sure how? Don’t have the time? Let me do this for you!)
Don’t let missed visits and same-day cancellations slow your practice growth.
Coaching and training front office staff is like planting a seed. Don’t wait for that rainy day. Start now.
As a practice owner, former manager, and the Front Office GURU, I understand the difficulties you face because I’ve been there. And my programs provide the solution.
Are you struggling with same-day cancellations and no-shows? Are your front office staff not consistently handling patients who cancel? Unsure how to go about establishing a proven training program for your front desk? Not sure if you need front office training?
You can go here to schedule a FREE Discovery Call to learn more about my programs.
Wishing you the best, today and always!