Confirmation Overload Causes Cancellations

Confirmation overload is actually creating an opportunity for your patients to cancel, so the process has the opposite effect of what you would like to accomplish. An ineffective process can actually create holes in your schedule.  Think about it, you are really telling your patient  that you don’t trust them and you are certain that they are going to cancel.

In my opinion, I think that you are inviting the patient to cancel and creating an opportunity to do so.  If you ask your patient to call you to confirm that they have received the confirmation call, this can be very irritating to your patients.   I overheard a patient recently say to a receptionist, “what is with you people?  I received 4 telephone calls from your office.  Did you not think I was going to show up?”.  Although the comment was made in a light-hearted manner, this made the office look disorganized and unsure of itself.  It was as if the receptionist was saying, “are you really, really sure that you want to keep this appointment?  Don’t you have something better to do?”  The average office wastes a minimum of $12,000.00 per year in administrative human resources costs simply by making confirmation calls. Dental professionals are conditioned to think that patients need to be treated as people who are irresponsible and that there is no intention of keeping scheduled appointments. In the age of communication devices and instant messaging, it is important to communicate with your patients in a way that will reach them, like text messaging and emails to reduce the amount of time spent on the telephone. Using an electronic system like Demand Force, Dental Sesame, etc. will send your patients email messages and text messages and will send your office confirmation that the message has been read.  Your patients can even confirm their appointments on line.  A system like this will reduce the administrative time spent making telephone calls that are ineffective and eliminates the excuse that the patient did not receive the message. Ask your software provider what they have available that will integrate with your data base.

Special Note – Depending on the firewall that your patient may have on his/her computer, occasionally the emails may go to junk mail. Please tell your patient to allow your system to receive emails. If you do want to continue using the telephone for confirmation calls, do not say, ” I’m just calling to confirm your appointment …”  try saying “Mrs. Smith, this is Sandie from Dr. Jones’ office.  This is your courtesy call for your upcoming appointment on Friday, April 20 at 2:00 p.m.  We look forward to seeing you then.  Have a great day.”  This creates the expectation that the patient intends to show up for the appointment and that you are calling as a courtesy.

Start treating your patients as responsible, mature adults who intend to keep their commitments. Create the expectation that your patients will take personal responsibility for their own health.  Trust your patients to show up for appointments, communicate with them more effectively and don’t expose them to confirmation overload.