Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program
Quickie Consult 80
"1 Month Appointments"
The results of the recent survey on credentials and practice habits revealed that 78% you book less than 1 month at a time with your patients. For the other 22%, please stop reading, give yourself a big hug, put a smile on your face and go back to work. For the 78% who don’t book at least one month at a time, my thought is that you really like having a small practice (sarcasm not only intended, but meant). Patients, like everyone else in humanity, are creatures of habit and if you create a positive habit, they will be more apt to be compliant in keeping their appointments. This has been tested in numerous offices and the results are consistent; the numbers go up…quickly.
The results are healthier patients and a busier office. Is this more work for your staff? Yes…but isn’t that what they are paid for? I do understand that your staff will have an opinion about what works and what doesn’t, and many staff members will give you every reason why this isn’t the best approach and be very convincing. My answer to my staff was very diplomatic, “This is the new office procedure and you have 2 choices; make the appointments for one month at a time or I will find someone else who will. The economy is tough and many good people could use a job working for a nice person like me.”
I am serious; my staff works for me, not the other way around and although I give them the opportunity to voice their opinion, there is no debate as to the business systems in the office. Let me repeat myself. Your staff works at your pleasure. The only indispensable person in the office is you, the doctor! Everyone else can be replaced very easily with a very little bit of work. Not that you want to have to do this, but you can.
As for the patients, this is another very easy task. As I wrote before, it all comes down to “what’s in it for them.” Remember, the patient will be more compliant if they have a reason that makes their life easier. In addition, the appointment compliance will increase if you make the appointments for the same time each day. As I stated above, people are creatures of habit, so work hard to make the appointment for the same time of day. Here is the front desk script for the patients:
“Mrs. Jones, we are getting very busy and I want to ensure that you can get the appointment time that you want each visit, so I am going to make your appointments for an entire month in advance. We are going to pick the same time of the day to make it easier for you. These appointments are not written in stone. You can call to alter the time if you have a problem on any given day, but these are your time slots, as my goal is to make it easier for you.”
Will every patient be able to make 1 month of appointments? Of course not. 80% will happily do so, 10% will be thrilled and the last 10% will fight you about this and everything else you ask them to do. That is the ratio of life 80-10-10. Don’t fight with the last 10%. Give them what they want.
As for your staff, the argument will be about how they will waste more time scheduling and re-scheduling patients on the phone, fighting with non-compliant patients, filling in appointment sheets or computer schedules, etc. I have heard it all. Remind them it is their job and with some staff, they will now have less time to gossip. I do not mean that in a disparaging way, as most staff work very, very hard and are a critical part of success. In fact, be sure to go out of your way to thank them for their hard work. It is those few who argue the most that usually do not want to work hard at the success of your office and usually have their own agendas. Pay extra close attention to them.
The result…busier offices, and that is the goal!