Contacting Overdue Patients

Reception

It isn’t that past clientele don’t like you (necessarily), but sometimes patients or clients just sort of drop out of sight.  No specific reason given.  Your staff call them once or twice but may feel rebuffed or pushed off and it can be awkward.  The person doesn’t really give a reason for not being willing to book an appointment.

Are there some techniques for handling this situation?  Yes, there are!

Can’t reach the person at all:

The staff call the person several times and leave messages but get no answer.  They may start to feel that they are “bugging” the person.

However, most of the time this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In actual statistical fact, if you don’t contact your past patients or clients, there is a high percentage that will go to another provider because, by not contacting them, the message they get is that you don’t care much about them.

Let’s take a closer look at what can be done:

  1. Are your staff getting ALL of the phone numbers for every patient, i.e. their home, work and cell numbers and their email addresses?
  2. When calling, are they trying all the numbers available? Sometimes staff don’t want to call someone at work and “bother” the person.  The problem is that trying to reach the person at home when they are not there is going to be unsuccessful unless your staff want to stay late and call the person at home after hours. The person DID give you their numbers so you have tacit permission to call those.
  3. Do not leave messages such as “You are overdue for your next appointment” or even “You are due for ____” as these sound very negative and may not elicit a response to your message. Just leave a cheerful, polite request for the person to give you a quick call back as soon as possible as you have a question – which you do because you want to find out what is happening.
  4. Try calling at different times of the day – early – late – lunch hour.
  5. Should phone calls fail utterly, try calling using “Private Caller” on a cell phone.
  6. Failing that, you could resort to texting or emailing. In fact, some patients absolutely prefer that method of contact.

When you DO make contact:

  1. Before you make contact with the patient or client, be sure you are familiar with any data concerning their last appointment and what their next appointment is for. You may need to discuss what happened in the last appointment.  Maybe they didn’t understand what was presented or agree with what the practitioner told them.  Maybe their wife or husband talked them out of it when they got home after the last appointment.  Maybe there was not enough education of the person in the last appointment as to why the next one is important.
  2. Go over with the person why is it beneficial for them to come in for their next appointment, e.g. the next service will help them avoid a serious condition, or it is the routine visit for maintenance of existing circumstances. Find out what the person thinks about it – you might find out that they have no clue why it is important to come in.  Ask how they are doing?  Anything the doctor should know?
  3. If they are seriously overdue to be in your office, you might want to offer them an incentive to come back such as a small service at no charge as part of a bigger service.

Bottom Line

Be persistent!  You are their healthcare provider and by keeping them on regular service, your level of service and care will shine through!


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