Surprise!

You never know about surprises. Some are good and some are bad. Finding out that you had a pre-appointment arranged with your eye doctor that you didn’t know about is one of the not-so-good ones.

Not as bad as this:Bad cake

Not as good as this:

Winner

Maybe more like this:

SNL

Bad things can happen when you forget something important and there are few things more important than the health of your eyes. Making sure that you keep up with your regular eye exams can literally save your sight. This means that pre-appointments for eye exams can be significant both for your practice and for your patients. But we know what it is like when a patient has finished their exam.

They are done, ready to go.

running

It might be hard for your staff to make sure that patients schedule their pre-appointments before they leave the office. Sometimes staff may be tempted to make a pre-appointment for someone without even telling them. This leads to the unpleasant surprise above.

How can you ensure that your staff books the appointment while the patient is still in the office? It is never easy to incorporate new procedures into an existing framework. The best way to encourage your staff to embrace the changes is to involve them directly in the process. There are lots of ways to do this, so here we go!


  1.  Explain why pre-appointing is useful for clients

First and foremost make sure that your staff realizes that most clients will accept the idea of pre-appointments without protest. Clients like it, it takes the responsibility away from them and gives them one less thing to remember.

After all, think about how dentists work.  Have you ever been able to leave a dentist’s office without them making an appointment for your next check-up?

If they didn’t we might see a lot more of this:

bad teeth

And a lot less of this:

good teeth

  1. Talk it over with your team

Next, set up a staff meeting to discuss the importance of making pre-appointments while clients are still in the office and get feedback from your team. Let them know that clients will very likely appreciate anything that would help them with preventative care. Find out what their objections are to pre-appointing with the client there and try to address them properly. It is always best to make sure your staff is engaged in the process and don’t feel they are arbitrarily being told what to do. Work with your team to develop a standard procedure for pre-appointing and they will be happy to implement it.

office happy

  1. Make it part of the office routine

Pre-appointing will be easy once it becomes a regular part of your office routine. Work out a plan so that the patient doesn’t leave before they have booked their next appointment. As a final interaction with the patient in the actual exam, someone, whether it be the doctor, the technician, or the assistant, should say something to the patient along the lines of “Everything looks great. We won’t need to see you again until next year. Stop at the desk and Dawn will go ahead and book that for you now.” Integrate it into the checkout process. If the patient is paying at the end of the appointment make pre-appointing just another step, even before taking the payment. Your staff will soon get accustomed to it and incorporate it easily into their routine.

  1. Practice conversations

Practice conversations your team may have with patients about pre-appointments. Don’t give the patient the chance to say no. Don’t say, “Would you like to book your next appointment?” Say, “When would you like to book?” or “The doctor says she would like to see you in again a year from now, what is a good day for you?” Of course, realizing that we don’t know what we will be doing a year from now is an obvious sticking-point, but it is easy enough to say something like, “How about this same time next year? You will get reminders closer to the appointment, so we can always re-book if you find it is not convenient.”  Or, “This is Monday, so Mondays seem to work well for you. Shall I put you in the schedule for Monday

[a year from now]? Of course, we send out reminders well in advance so you can always change it if the time is not good for you.” If you use 4PatientCare for your pre-appointment reminders they are timed so that the patient will have plenty of opportunity to reschedule the appointment if necessary closer to the date.

  1. Show how to handle client objections

If the patient says they aren’t sure they will need it, you can always bring up the D-word and guilt-trip them: “You wouldn’t neglect your dental health. We want to make sure that we are managing your eye health properly as well.”

  1. Don’t insist

And if a client really doesn’t want to do it, don’t force it. You want them to be happy and to want to return to your practice. If they don’t pre-appoint their next exam they should still be on the list for recalls when the time comes.

If you encourage and reward your staff for helping make pre-appointing a routine it will be good for the health of the practice and the eye health of your patients! Everybody wins and all the surprises are good!

Debbie in cake