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  • Writer's pictureDee Bills, Founder

Why Patients Are Late... And How to Prevent It...

Are you sick of patients being late for care?

If so, you’re not alone. But the solution requires an understanding of WHY people show up late.

There’s a pretty simple explanation for WHY patients arrive late for their appointments (and no, it’s not because they’re a jerk).

They simply don’t like to wait. Their time is valuable. And sitting in a medical office waiting to be seen, isn’t a valuable use of their time.

You might be ready to argue, and say “we don’t start our patients late’. You don’t, but others do. And they’ve taught your patients that it’s a waiting game.

Patients have been trained by providers that you never take them back on time. And they believe that IF they arrive early for their appointment, they’re going wait 15, 30, even 60+ minutes before they’re seen for care.

And they don’t want to.

So, while you may work extra hard to take patients back right on time, many new patients believe that since you’re a specialist, you’re going to make them wait 15 or more minutes after their appointment time BEFORE you take them back.

So, they arrive right at their appointment time or even a few minutes late.

This is also the reason that many new patients don’t complete their paperwork before they come in.

They believe that ‘since you’re going to be late taking them back’, they’ll have time to fill it out while they’re sitting, waiting.

See the problem yet?

This false belief that most patients have IS the #1 reason new patients don’t arrive 15 min before their appointment. It’s also the reason they continue to be late for the rest of their plan of care.

Ok, you might think I’m nuts, but I’ve been doing this a LONG time…so hear me out.

Late patients cause problems for your entire team.

Even if someone shows up a minute or two before their appointment time it isn’t enough time to get everything done at the front desk.

So, actions are delayed or skipped or forgotten due to ‘being in a rush’. (That’s a problem.)

Or, and this more common, the front desk completes all their actions before the provider takes the patient back (as they should). But, in this scenario, the patient is now taken back LATE.

And in their mind, YOU started them late. So, you proved to them that you’re just like the others.

While we know why you had to start them late, they won’t.

People won’t accept responsibility for being late if they don’t KNOW it’s their responsibility.

And don’t tell them it’s their fault or you’re going to get an earful and have an angry patient on your hands. 😉

Instead, make sure the patient knows that you need them there early because you’re not like other medical practices; you work to get them started right on time. But if they’re late, you won’t be able to.

And then your front desk needs to know how to get them to arrive with enough time to complete all the front desk responsibilities and then get them back right on time.

When your new patients arrive and are ready to go right on schedule, you’ll begin to prove to them that you’re not like other practices and you value their time.

This will increase them arriving on time. And if they don’t, you can always remind them that you work to start treatments on time.

Not sure how to get your patients to arrive on time and be ready to go?

Want a system that trains your front desk on this action and so much more?

Give your front desk team the training they need to get your patients to arrive on time.

Front Office Training

With The Front Office GURU Training Academy®, you can have the tools you need to provide consistent training to your front desk.

When you provide consistent training, your team is more successful and success in their position helps to decrease turnover.

Here are just a few of the essential topics we cover in this program:

  • How to have the right mindset when speaking with patients.

  • How to get more new patients to schedule and arrive for their evaluation appt

  • How to talk about the cost of care and handle patient worries about costs

  • How to PREVENT cancels and no-shows (and also how to handle someone to keep it from happening again)

  • How to fill your schedule and keep it full

Watch this video to learn more:


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