Patients not booking back into your practice when you would have expected them to is not good for the growth and stability of your practice but more importantly it’s most likely not good for your patients who are not returning.

Facing reality

The first thing to do is to face reality and look at the percentage of patients who do not rebook at any stage during their care where you would expect them to come back for a future appointment. I would get the percentage as a whole but also for each individual practitioner.

Hopefully you are able to easily retrieve these figures from a practice management software system. If you’re still on paper, I’d urge you to consider going electronic!

Why are patients not rebooking?

Once you have the number of patients who are not rebooking it is important to understand why patients are not rebooking. There may be practical reasons – patients not having their diaries with them, patients having to wait for other medical results and other ‘legitimate’ reasons.

My experience tells me that there are other more fundamental reasons why patients choose not to rebook – below are three of the main reasons:

  • Practitioners saying to the patient ‘go away and see how you feel’ leaving it up to the patient to determine if they need to come back or not
  • Practitioners delivering a confusing message – many receptionists have mentioned that sometimes patients come out of the treatment room and don’t know if they should make another appointment
  • Practitioners not linking the treatment to patient goals and not pro-actively monitoring progress along the way

What can you do about it?

Identifying the issue and having the hard, cold facts is a great start to give you impetus to do something about it!

Most clinics are in existence to help people get better and many to help them stay better too (yes, clinic owners want to make a profit but that happens as a result) Patients not rebooking when they should does not support the overarching goal of getting patients better.

Apart from booking an in-house workshop or attending our next patient management course in October, consider the following questions as a starting point to reduce the percentage of non-rebookers:

  • How well is the vision of the practice articulated and then communicated to and lived by the team?
  • How is the vison (let’s say ‘getting patients better’) connected to conversations with the patient and recommended treatment?
  • How well is the recommended treatment communicated to the patient at the outset and on an on-going basis?
  • How water-tight is your rebooking process – how do you know if someone hasn’t rebooked?

You might have read this through and thought ‘We’re fine – we have great systems in place’ I have had many clients who have said just that and when we’ve looked at how the systems are used, things haven’t actually been happening as they thought. A system is only as good as the discipline of those who use it.

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