The Greatest Inconvenience Missing Your Appointment Causes YOU… That Your Dental Office Will Never Tell You
Let’s face it.
We all have to visit the dentist twice yearly (at least, we should if we want to keep our teeth healthy). Regardless of whether or not you have insurance or are a self-pay patient, every patient is required to review and sign off on the appointment policies of your dental office.
For instance, at Tebo, our appointment policy states that we require 24 business hours’ notice (1 business day) of any cancellations or changes. Otherwise, it will be considered a broken appointment posted to your family’s account.
RegulaSad, but true: when your dental office has a high broken appointment rate, the greatest inconvenience to patients is less availability of appointments that fit YOUR schedule. r broken appointments on our schedule result in an inability to fully staff our offices, 8 hours a day, five days a week, which limits appointment availability for our patients. Arriving after your reserved appointment time also impacts availability because if your appointment doesn’t begin on time, it won’t end on time. This means that we aren’t able to offer the best possible appointment availability as often as we’d like. Want to guess the top 2 complaints patients have? You guessed it.
Limited appointment availability and finishing their appointment on time.
Another Top Complaint… & What We’re Doing About It
Appointment Policies are a chief complaint from patients in most healthcare provider offices. And the truth is, we understand why— things come up beyond everyone’s control. But the thing that most offices will never tell you is why canceling an appointment within 24 business hours is considered a broken appointment posted to the family’s account. After multiple broken appointments, our patients can only appoint via a “Same Day / ASAP” list, which means appointments can only be reserved for the same day the appointment request is made if available in our schedule.
Many patients argue that circumstances that result in their having to cancel should be “excusable” reasons, i.e., flat tires, family emergencies, etc. When something bad happens, we feel bad, too, because we’re people, just like our patients. Dental offices don’t share what happens when we have numerous broken appointments in a single day. Regardless of the reason, each missed appointment is one where the patient’s insurance was verified (in most cases), and the doctor and clinical staff time has already been reserved and paid for. The consequences of having many broken appointments in a single day can have a HUGE domino effect on staff, other patients, and the company as a whole, and we feel it’s time we shared this with those that care to know.
The Domino Effect: How Our Staff Pays The Price & We Pay The Bill
No, we don’t want to upset our patients by posting a broken appointment (“BA”) to the family’s account or resulting in ASAP List availability only. It’s the last thing we want to do! To show how much we try to avoid this, here is the overall process, the general numbers, and the consequences of what happens as a result of a high BA rate:
- On average, anywhere from 10-20% of all reserved appointments end up being broken.
- When this happens, our office calls other patients who need dental treatment to fill these newly empty slots.
- Patients “no call, no show”— when this happens multiple times a day (often), it can be devastating to our office.
- Other patients arrive after their reserved appointment time or miss their appointments entirely. We do our best, but it is not fair to inconvenience punctual patients by seeing those that arrive late. We wouldn’t do it to you, and we don’t do it to them. Our staff usually miss lunch or are late arriving home to take care of their families, which we also try to avoid at all costs.
- With many “BAs” in a single day, we have no choice but to send our staff home. And it pains us to do this because staff depends on working during reserved appointment times to feed their families.
The truth is this: no business can afford to pay employees when there are no patients, guests, or customers to serve: we try to avoid such “downtime,” but ultimately, we are left with no choice but to send them home.
While many businesses may share their internal processes and challenges, at Tebo, we are learning from patient feedback that more communication, more transparency, and more openness for suggestions are the keys to maintaining strong relationships with our patients. We hope this “insider” information about broken appointments is something you find valuable.
If you are a parent or patient and have any suggestions on how we may better serve you, please do not hesitate to email us.
PS— And whatever you do… don’t forget to SMILE BIG today! 😉
VP of Marketing & Business Development / CMO
Twitter & Instagram: @akirathebad