Are you closing your office or limiting your practice hours to urgent procedures only? At YAPI, we have received many phone calls from our colleagues who are asking us to pause their appointment and recall reminders for the duration of this voluntary closure. While we understand that many of you want to avoid confusing patients with conflicting messages, we are concerned that turning off appointment reminders and recall will negatively affect your schedules in the following weeks to come once we return to our regular routines.
At this time, many of us are prepared to either pause or drastically reduce operations for the next two to three weeks. Even when we return to our regular schedules, it will take some time for the appointment book to return to “normal.” We anticipate a much higher than “normal” cancellation rate during this time.
Cancellations will happen. The way we’ve handled ourselves with toilet paper at a time of pandemic doesn’t leave much hope that everyone will keep their appointments once things get back to normal. So, it makes sense to preserve our schedules as much as possible by rescheduling all patients to a future date and continuing to send reminders automatically for anyone scheduled in two-three weeks.
Here is what I asked my staff to do today as we were closing my practice:
- Reschedule all patients to a future date that we expect to be open. Some of you might be worried about having to call patients again to reschedule if we are not able to reopen as planned. I understand. But, I’d rather call the patient back to reschedule one more time, than chase after them trying to reschedule once we return to the office, and they return to their jobs, schools, etc.
- If you are not able to get in touch with a patient, don’t delete their appointments. Instead, leave them on the schedule but change appointments to a dummy provider that’s excluded from your appointment reminders and recall messages. This way, you can leave the appointment on the schedule until the patient calls you back, but no appointment reminder will go out.
- If you decide to pause your reminders, please keep three things in mind: You will need to turn your appointment reminders back on at least four days before the day that you resume operations to ensure that your appointment confirmations are going out on time. Otherwise, you need to confirm them manually.
- If you turn your appointment reminders off, the patients who were pre-scheduled three to six months in advance and would have usually received a two-week or three-week reminder won’t get them. You will need to contact them manually.
- Past-due and Due notifications will not be going out automatically. Therefore unscheduled patients who are going to become due in 30 days or more, as well as unscheduled patients who are past due, will not receive any reminders to schedule their hygiene. You can and will need to send them manually.
That’s a lot of things to keep track of and push manually. Therefore, it’s best to reschedule patients and change appointments that you don’t want to be confirmed to a dummy provider as described above instead of pausing reminders completely. Your appointment reminder provider should be able to offer easy modifications to make sure that you don’t have to turn appointment reminders off.
For any of our customers – we are here to help with anything you need. Our phone lines are pretty heavy right now – you can email to email@example.com to automatically get into a queue for a call-back.
Please don’t’ hesitate to reach out to me directly if I can be of any help. firstname.lastname@example.org