Patient No Shows

Episode 019

We all have patients that fail to show up for their appointments. In my office we refer to these patients as “no calls-no shows.”

In this episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast, I discuss why you should track patients that fail to show up for their appointments, look at the impact of those no calls-no shows on your business, and give ways to keep these productivity drains from peppering your schedule.

Patient No ShowMore About This Show

Recently I was looking at our office data on no calls-no shows: how many did we have in a month? What is the average for a dental practice? So I dug up our office data and then began searching the Internet to find out what the national average is for most dental practices.

The surprising thing is I couldn’t find a lot of information! There is plenty online about medical office no show rates, but very little about dentists. The few articles I could find seem to support an average of 10%, but even those articles didn’t have a lot of information on this number. It seems to be the accepted average from what I could gather.

With that in mind I looked at my office’s data and determined that between February 19 through March 19th we had a total of 20 no calls-no shows, or about 7.1% of our appointments didn’t call and didn’t show up.

I broke those numbers down even further: 65% of the no shows were consultations, 20% were post-ops, and 15% were surgeries. From a productivity standpoint these totaled about 10.5 hours of work – so more than a day of work wasn’t billed because people didn’t show up to their appointments.

I’m sure you can see why I did this and why do I recommend you do too: so you can find out how much these no shows-no calls are costing you and your practice. Once you’ve done that there are several ways to address this issue: the proactive approach and the reactive approach.

The proactive approach is to have your staff confirm the appointment the day before it is scheduled. Often your patients may have forgotten or may not have written down the date and time of their visit with you so confirming the day before can help them remember to come in or change the appointment. You can also use email or text messaging to remind your patients, if they would prefer that.

The reactive approach is when the person hasn’t called or shown up for their appointment and your staff calls to check in on them. You can tell them you were calling to find out what happened, and ask if they want to reschedule. They’ll give a reason or an excuse and let you know if they need to reschedule.

It’s important to follow up if they don’t call and don’t come in because you want your patients to know you care about their well-being and that it matters if they miss appointments. If you let it continue without calling and following up they may think you don’t care and it doesn’t matter.

Also on this episode I explain why I’m not a fan of charging for no call-no shows, and I share more data, this time on how many dentists fire patients after missing their appointments.

Whether you’re a general practice dentist, an oral surgeon like me or in another dental specialty, your practice is impacted by no shows and you’ll benefit from this episode. I hope after listening you’ll take action and dig into your own no show rates, and your approach to them.

Tweetable: “You want to have things in place to minimize no-shows.”

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My Philosophy On Hiring Staff

Episode 018

Do you have processes in place for hiring new staff?  What are they?  Are they working?  Over the years I have changed my philosophy when it comes to hiring staff.  I’ve shifted from looking primarily at experience and skill set to looking at the person’s character.

In this episode I discuss why I made that shift, and what some of the processes are I have used to find and hire new staff.  As a bonus I reveal a new resource specifically designed to help dentists…check it out and let me know what you think!

Philosophy Of Hiring

More About This Show

When I first began building my practice I hired staff the usual way: I brought in a consultant to help me hire an assistant, we placed the same ad in a few local papers and waded through the responses. I looked for someone with the most experience and certain skill sets.

Doing so worked out for me but over the years I began to shift my approach to hiring. Instead of looking for someone with a certain level of experience or skills, I looked for their character. Are they warm, friendly and outgoing? How do they relate to others and how do they build relationships? Answering those questions helped me find people with integrity.

I’ve also tried different approaches to where I found people: I’ve placed ads in the newspapers, on Craigslist, and have also used word of mouth. I’ve even had people drop off resumes and ask if we were hiring. I always appreciate that kind of initiative, even if they weren’t a fit for our office.

Those are all approaches you can use, as well as this example of how I found my current marketing director. I put an anonymous ad on Craigslist; in the ad I asked them to follow certain directions, like sending a resume with their response. Only about 30 of the 60 responses I received had a resume attached so I only viewed the people who followed directions and sent in their resumes.

After reviewing their resumes I selected about 10 people I thought could be a good fit. For those 10 people I put together a survey on Surveymonkey. I sent that survey to them to complete; I wanted to see if they would actually do it, and how they well they would perform. Would you believe only 5 people filled out the survey?! And of those 5 only a few of them did well on the very simple survey.

So out of 60 total responses only 3 people did well enough to be interviewed. Those 3 were invited into a face to face interview with them. One of those three had personal connections to people I know. After meeting with her I talked to our mutual connections about her, and they vouched for her character. Based on that and the interview I hired her and we’ve been happily working together ever since!

Whether you use that approach or not I do recommend looking at people for their character and personality. You don’t have to hire someone from the dental field for all of your positions. I’ve hired pharmacy techs, veterinary techs and others because they were a good fit personality-wise and were a good addition to our office staff.

On this episode I share some of the reasons hiring from within the dental industry hasn’t worked for me in the past as well as how I’ve hired interns who have become my surgical assistants. You’ll hear all of that plus an awesome resource for all your podcast-listening needs! Check it out on episode 18 of Business Dentistry.

Tweetable: “You can train skill, you can’t teach good character!”

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Do You Suffer From SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome?

Episode 017

In today’s era of gadgets, gizmos and technology it’s very easy to fall into the trap of Shiny Object Syndrome or SOS for short. And as dentists we can be guilty of this too! How often have you thought you’d use a new gadget to bring in new clients, or justified buying something shiny and new because you could write it off on your taxes?

Personally I have been there and done that! So on episode 17 of the Business Dentistry podcast, I’ll be talking about my own experiences with SOS in my practice, and how I keep it in check today.

Shiny Object Syndrome

More About This Show

Growing up my grandfather was a farmer in West Tennessee. He had crops to tend to during spring, summer and fall but needed a way to generate income in the winter, so he set up trap lines. He would take me along while tending to these lines and would teach me about the outdoors, about animals and so much else.

Why am I sharing this? Because I learned a valuable lesson about shiny objects from those trap line days with my grandfather. With the traps he used to put a shiny object in the middle of it, and he taught me animals were very smart enough to avoid other triggers on the trap, but not many could avoid that shiny object.

For example a racoon would come upon the trap, see the shiny thing inside of it and simply could not resist reaching in with their paw to find out what the object was. The trap would then be triggered and would catch the racoon.

People, even dentists, are like that racoon when it comes to technology, gadgets and gizmos today. In our practice we can spend too much on gizmo because the sales person tells us it will bring in more clients, or because they tell us it’s a tax write-off.

In my experience the only ways we bring in new clients is the old-fashioned way: word of mouth referrals, testimonials and patient care. How much you care matters far more than having the latest piece of dental equipment or the shiniest technology, quality care drives referrals and grows your business.

But I have fallen into the shiny object syndrome in the past and I’ve bought gadgets because they were cool and I wanted them; I justified the purchase by saying it would generate more income when in fact I didn’t know if that was true or not.

So today I ask myself a few questions before I buy anything new for my practice like how will it add to the bottom line and grow our revenue? How will it increase productivity and improve protocols? How often will I actually use it for procedures we currently do (NOT new procedures)? And will it make those procedures easier and more efficient, and effective?

If I can answer yes to at least some of those questions the purchase is worth considering. I don’t let sales people persuade me like I used to, and I don’t buy something solely because I can use it as a tax write-off at the end of the year. That’s like spending a dollar to save 30 cents!

On today’s episode I’ll give you specific examples of when I bought equipment because of shiny object syndrome, and when I bought it based on thorough planning. You’ll hear the process I went through in the second scenario and why it’s still okay to buy things on a lark every now and again just because you want them! Listen in for all of that and more on this edition of Business Dentistry!

 

Tweetable: “Don’t expect new patients to show up because of new equipment.”

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The Dreaded Staff Meeting

Episode 016

Coming from a military background, I always believed that meetings were unproductive and a waste of time. When I opened my own dental practice, I hired a consultant who eventually talked me into having staff meetings in my office.

And doing so changed my tune! Today I’m a strong proponent of staff meetings. On this episode of the Business of Dentistry Podcast, I explain why I changed my mind about the efficiency of staff meetings, and how I conduct meetings in my dental business.

More About This Show

Each day in my office begins with a short morning huddle. The entire staff gathers in the break room before our first patient arrives. During this time we review our schedule for the day, patient by patient. We talk about everything from health, insurance, treatment plans, and our relationship to each patient.

Spending ten to fifteen minutes together every morning ensures that everyone on the staff is on the same page. I want everyone to be aware of any concerns, to have the opportunity to ask questions, and to feel comfortable about how we plan to approach each individual patient.

We also discuss our availability to take emergency patients for the day. I identify these time slots early in the day so that every team member is aware. This creates a sense of uniformity among staff, and allows them to be informed and prepared for potential emergencies.

During our morning huddle we also discuss any administrative issues, and go over our staffing needs for the day. I find that taking this time every morning makes for a less stressful day.

In addition to the morning huddle, I also occasionally hold staff meetings.  This can be anywhere from once a week, to once a month depending on the needs of the office.

This time is spent working on the practice. We examine anything that can be improved in our office. I encourage my team to bring any ideas or suggestions that they think will improve our patient care during this time.

I’ve found in my years as a dental business owner that holding regular staff meetings contributes to a better flow and a more unified team. To hear more specific details on how I organize and keep track of meetings, listen in to this episode of the Business of Dentistry Podcast! Then stop back here and let me know: do you have regular staff meetings? If not will you start now?

Tweetable: “The collective mind is better than the individual!”

 

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