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  • Michelle Shimmin

Patients Without Appointments Going Amuck, Amuck, Amuck!

Picture this...a brisk Monday morning. The team has started the day with an amazing, purposeful morning huddle, discussing the schedule of New Patient Exams, Starts, and celebrating the fact that none of the patients on the schedule have a past due amount to collect! Tina, the Scheduling Coordinator checks in the first patient after she received a text stating the patient is waiting in the car. Jenny, the clinical assistant zooms from the back office and goes out to the front door and waves at the patient with a giant smile and walks them into the clinic to begin their adjustment appointment. The patient (Zach) has amazing oral hygiene and has been wearing his elastics just like he was instructed! Now, the assistant walks the patient back to the scheduling coordinator and does the perfect hand-off, explaining that we need to see Zach back in 8 weeks. The scheduling coordinator has the schedule ready with Zach’s treatment card open. She offers Zach two appointments in eight weeks. Zach looks at Tina and says, “Can I have my mom call to make my next appointment?.” Tina responds to Zach, “Of course, please have mom call right away!”. Tina immediately thinks about her “Active patients without appointments” report and can picture it growing. Unfortunately, this currently is a reality that we are all facing! Our clients are tirelessly working on tracking down the patients that they were unable to see during the COVID closure and now are adding an additional element of patients that are not comfortable scheduling their follow-up visits without parents being present. What can we do? We dig! Ask Zach if he is doing distance learning or if he is back to regular in-school hours. Look through Zach’s appointment history to see if there is a trend of when he schedules his appointments. If so, we recommend the following verbiage once we have identified more information. “Zach, I am going to schedule your next appointment during a time that best works with your current schedule. If for any reason it does not work, please have mom give us a call and we can always reschedule to a different time for you.” We have completed two things by doing this, 1. Zach has left with a physical appointment keeping him off of our follow up lists and 2. If it inconveniences mom it will cause a trigger effect for her to call the office to reschedule that said appointment. We all prioritize our tasks on a daily basis. When Zach goes out to the car and shows mom the appointment time, she will either be delighted that she has one less task to complete or it will trigger her to pick up her phone to call the office herself to reschedule. Let’s work smarter not harder!


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