It seems everywhere that I go lately; I see people who have a smart phone in their hand. The other day I counted patients who walked in with one, and there were five! The electronic age sure has changed the way that we live. It also has changed the way that we confirm dental appointments.
Remember the “olden days” when all that we had were handwritten postcards and the receptionist’s reminder phone call? Now there are many options for confirming appointments. There are Internet services that will send email, text and even phone calls to your patients. They will send your patient a survey the day after their appointment. Some of these services will even upload patient reviews directly to Google.
How are we supposed to know which way is best? I spent some time thinking about it, and decided it was best to survey the patients. The dental software that we use has a place in the family file to identify the patients’ preference for appointment confirmation, so the team committed to remembering to ask each patient what they prefered. We did it when each patient checked in, we asked them how they preferred to be informed of upcoming appointments. What we found was, that there really was no one preference, the scales were balanced. The patients had no strong preference of ways that we offered to confirm their appointments. Some of them even told us to choose if we wanted to call their home, work or cell.
Those who are busy, living life on the go, preferred to receive a text. The Grandma and lonely widowers, all loved to receive a phone call with a hello and a quick reminder of the directions to the office! The corporate office workers like us to send an email and some of the patients still liked to tape the postcard that we mail to their refrigerator, so they would not forget!
We decided that it was best to use all the ways that there are available to notify patients of their appointments. We send out a postcard four weeks before. An email or text goes out one week prior to appointments, and we call two days prior if that is what they prefer. It may seem like over kill, but it sure helps us to keep our hygiene schedules filled!
With your success in mind,