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a blog by Chris Barrow

Simple Diary Musts for the New Year - a guest post by Lisa Bainham

I hope you have had a great Christmas and are looking towards 2023 with a fresh positive outlook.

I wanted to start the year considering what we need to do to ensure we get off to a great beginning with enthusiasm and vigour.

Where do we start? What are our immediate challenges?

For many it’s staffing and recruitment, absences and a sense of how we begin on a good footing when this year will be bringing new challenges and obstacles, and in many cases, we still haven’t solved the issues of 2022 and beyond.

It’s predicted that staff absences will peak during the first couple of months, and it makes sense that we will therefore have scheduling issues, and we will also have patient cancellations and missed appointments too.

Simple Diary Musts

When a patient cancels, try as much as possible to reschedule at that point…keep them in the diary (unless of course, they are repeat offenders, and you don’t wish to see them anymore).

When we cancel appointments, again, reschedule there and then (don’t end up in the PTCU abyss, as mentioned in my last blog).

Reassure patients that they will be added to a priority list and will be contacted if a suitable appointment crops up sooner.

Ensure your reception team are utilising a contact list or short notice list with patients preferred days/times noted accurately.

It is also great idea to look at when the cancelling clinician can perhaps open extra sessions on their return. Don’t over promise but try. If no more sessions during the week are available, then it may be possible to open a Saturday or two.

If you cancel patients, also equip your reception team with the verbal skills to explain why you are cancelling and how sorry they are. A genuine apology and honest explanation really do mean a lot to people!

Be sensitive to existing patients. If you are actively booking in new patients, it is not good to be advertising for new patients when your existing patients are getting fed up with waiting to be seen. I’m not saying don’t but be careful about it and prepare/zone your diaries accordingly.

Finally, lets bear in mind that some patients will be cancelling due to financial reasons…they may not be open about this though, so we need to be efficient with our patient follow up communications, providing reasons why it’s important to attend for examinations/hygiene and to complete outstanding treatment. Give them payment options sensitively and reassure them that you want to help ensure they receive the care they need.

If you would like to receive further guidance on diary efficiency, reception/Front of house or patient reactivation communications, please get in touch.

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