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    The false security of a full schedule

    Booking strategies important to keep patients happy, ODs stress levels down

     

    The cost of no-shows

    A recent study from the National Institute of Health estimates that no-shows cost an average healthcare practice over $1,000 each and every day.2 And logic dictates that the further into the future an appointment is made, the more likely it is to not be kept.

    While simply not showing up for an appointment is rude, changing the appointment also costs our practices money. Staff time taken to communicate with patients about needs to change an appointment can add up to significant expenses. People tend to cancel appointments with little notice. The longer patients have to wait to re-schedule, the more likely they are to cancel.

    Related: 5 tips for planning a successful event at your practice

    Pre-appointing vs. recall

    Almost everyone in eye care agrees that annual comprehensive eye exams are the standard of care maintain visual wellness. We have implemented a recall or pre-appointing strategy to help our patients adhere to this annual exam standard. These systems have many names and employ a variety of techniques. For the sake of this discussion, we will break the systems into two well-accepted categories: recall and pre-appointing.

    Recall is any action to remind patients that it is time for them to take action to schedule their yearly exams. Postcards, phone calls, email, and text messages are some examples of tactics used to make contact. Sometimes the messages conveyed are automated to maximize efficiency; others use real people to add the personal touch. Recalled patients do not have an existing appointment scheduled when being “recalled.”

    Pre-appointing is the close cousin of recall with one difference: Patients already have an appointment scheduled. A pre-appointment is different from a standard appointment because it is scheduled in the future—typically a year in advance.

    Related: Recovering from a fire in the optometry practice

    As time for the appointment approaches, many techniques are used to remind the patient of their appointments, and instructions are given to confirm or adjust the appointment time. If confirmed, the pre-appointment is converted to an appointment. 

    I have found in my practice that pre-appointed patients are more likely to schedule their next annual exams, and some ODs believe they are more likely to come to that exam. I have also found that pre-appointed patients are also more likely to cancel or no-show for their appointments than recalled patients.

    Michael Rothschild, OD
    Dr. Rothschild is the CEO of Leadership OD and is an advisory consultant for Revolution EHR.

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