By Roger P. Levin, DDS
As a process that typically lasts for 18–24 months, ortho treatment can easily fall behind schedule if parents or adult patients aren’t diligent about keeping their appointments. You’ll always have overdue patients, but the following techniques will help you minimize the problem:
- Educate patients and parents about the importance of compliance. The better they understand the nature of ortho treatment—moving the teeth to their proper positions with a series of frequent small steps—the more likely they’ll be to keep their appointments. You, your assistants, and other staff members should repeatedly emphasize the benefits of staying on schedule – the foremost among them being the completion of treatment and creation of a beautiful smile without needless delay.
- Implement a modern, effective confirmation system. Many people have trouble keeping track of their personal schedules, while others are less conscientious about meeting their obligations. To make it more likely that they’ll show up, take advantage of the latest advances in personal communication. Acquire patients’ and parents’ cell phone numbers if at all possible and use them to place reminder calls. People are more likely to answer calls and check voicemail on their cell phones. Even better in many cases is texting. With permission, you can use an automated system to text timely appointment reminders and report confirmation responses.
- Offer incentives to encourage compliance. With young patients in particular, you can achieve good results by turning the process into a game. Start a “club” just for kids who stay on schedule. Offer nice little prizes for those who show up X times in a row for their appointments. This will work with adults as well as children, though with different prizes.
Appointments will be missed, and some patients with inevitably fall behind schedule, but these and other techniques you come up with can reduce cancellations and no-shows dramatically.
Attend Dr. Levin’s ortho seminar, Ignite Your Referrals, Increase Your Close Rate, on March 30 in Kansas City, Missouri, April 7 in Boston, or April 21 in Towson, Maryland, tuition-free. Ask your Ortho2 Systems Consultant how to receive an Educational Grant. Go to www.levingroup.com/orthoseminars to see other dates and locations for 2016.