SECRETS FOR MINIMIZING WAITING TIMES

How long does it take an existing patient to get into see you? If it is more than two weeks, there is a chance that you are losing patients without even realizing it.

Keeping waiting times to a minimum goes a long way to keep patients coming back to you. Consumers are programmed to wait for potentially life saving medical appointments, like mammograms, a colonoscopy, and skin cancer check. However they do not tend to plan far in advance for follow up visits for repetitive treatments such an injectables, lasers, peels, etc. Today’s cosmetic patients want their BOTOX® when they want it, and they won’t wait too long to see the doctor. If you cannot fit them into the schedule in a timely fashion, they can easily find someone else who can accommodate them. In many markets, medspas and clinics take walk-in appointments for non-invasive cosmetic procedures.

Your patients are busy people too and their time is valuable. While they may be willing to make some sacrifices, they also have busy work and family schedules. Maintaining flexible hours can go far to keeping patients in the practice. It is essential to offer early mornings, evenings, and occasional weekend appointments to cast the widest net. Patients who cannot get the appointment times they want may end up leaving your practice eventually. Offering more appointment times and making exceptions for loyal patients and VIPs to get them in quickly can help keep them happy.

For a busy cosmetic surgery practice, the lead time for a new consultation may fall into the range of three to six weeks. Savvy practices will make exceptions for special circumstances, such as personal referrals who want or need to be seen quickly. Another good strategy is to maintain a waiting list for patients who want to come in on specific dates in the event of cancellations, which are bound to happen. This demonstrates that you are willing to go the extra mile to accommodate them and also allows you to keep your schedule full. You can avoid patients leaving your practice by giving them the appointment times they want whenever possible.

Technology is your friend. Using an updated scheduling system is worth every penny to help get patients in when they want to come and maximize patient flow. Appointment snafus are a major gripe among cosmetic patients. Automating your appointment scheduling, confirmations and reminders can greatly improve efficiency and avoid mishaps as well as cut down on cancellations and no-shows. Similarly, if there are too many hoops to jump through for patients to come to see you, they may opt out. Anything that can be automated through the use of a patient portal on your practice website is another time saver for your staff and patients alike.

According to Booker.com, 5% of salon clients want to schedule appointments during non-business hours, 25% of millennials (under 35) will only book appointments online, and offering online booking can boost appointments by 5% to 25%. The same rules apply to medical spas and cosmetic clinics.

Delays are often unavoidable in an aesthetic practice and of course, patients do not like it. However, their dissatisfaction can be mitigated if you do your best to work with them and keep them informed. When there is a delay for an emergency, surgery running late, device failure, or a scheduling problem, it is important to manage the situation professionally and courteously.

Most reasonable patients will understand a delay for an emergency or other reasons, and they will appreciate it when you work with them to accommodate their busy schedules. The worst thing you can do is to fudge or guess at a response to questions about waiting times or lie to them. Be honest at all times or you risk making a bad situation worse. Don’t make lame excuses or attempt to shuffle patients away into treatment rooms to wait there.

Just take a look at the major review sites to see how many negative comments are posted complaining about long waiting times and delays. The struggle is real!

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