Patients constantly have objections when it comes to booking appointments. In 2022, the most common reason new and existing patients denied appointment requests is because of service availability, closely followed by scheduling conflicts.
More often than not, your front desk or call center staff are the first individuals your patients interact with when calling your practice. Prepare and train your staff to expertly guide patients to an appointment and navigate objections when it comes to scheduling. Try utilizing these proven word tracks during your upcoming appointment opportunity calls.
When patients have scheduling objections based on insurance, inform them about alternative solutions rather than giving “yes” or “no” responses. These alternatives may include cash discounts, payment plans, self-insurance, and any promotions and specials your practice is currently offering. Also, make sure your phone handlers are fully educated on the insurance policies you offer so they can speak intelligently on these alternatives.
“Unfortunately, that service is not covered by insurance. However, we do offer discounts to patients who choose to pay in cash, as well as work with many of our current patients to come up with payment plans that fit their needs. Which of these options would you prefer?”
“I apologize that we do not accept your insurance. However, we are currently offering a marketing promotion through our website for the service you are looking for. I’d be happy to tell you more about that and see if that could be an option. ”
Service availability was the number one reason for denied appointment requests in 2022. It is important to ask qualifying questions and request the patient still come in for a consultation to confirm there is no alternative your practice offers. In the event that there is no alternative, have affiliated partners you can refer patients to, keeping the door open and building trust.
“We offer free consultations. Let's schedule an appointment this week to see if there are any cheaper and safer alternatives for you. Does Wednesday at 10 AM or Friday at 4 PM work better for you?”
“Unfortunately, we do not offer any solutions for your need as we only specialize in ___. However, ____ is one of our affiliated partners who does offer that procedure. Let me get their information for you and I will let them know to be expecting a call from you!”
When a patient is having difficulty picking an appointment time, try utilizing the “Whittle and Shepard” technique. This is when you start by asking the patient if the beginning or end of the week works best for their schedule. Next, ask if mornings or afternoons are usually better for them. Then offer two firm appointment times for the patient to choose from. Also, be sure to avoid open-ended questions so their decision is simple. Lastly, keep designated times throughout the week available for emergency appointment requests.
“Even though you do not have your calendar in front of you right now, let's get you scheduled now before our week is fully booked. Does earlier or later in the week work better for you? Do you prefer mornings or afternoons? Does Thursday at 7 AM or Friday at 9 AM work better for you?”
“I am sorry to hear about your accident and understand the urgency of your request. We have time saved this afternoon at 4 PM for emergency appointments. I will go ahead and put you down then.”
It is important to stay in control and set realistic expectations over the phone when a patient has a pricing concern. Set expectations so they are not sent a bill significantly higher than what they expected and offer any alternative payment options.
“I can't give you an exact price over the phone as it all depends on what the doctor sees fit for your treatment plan. We do offer free consultations where we can then provide you with an accurate quote based on the exact service you need. We have tomorrow at 3 PM available and Friday at 7 AM available. Which time works better for you?”
“I understand and know many healthcare treatments can get pricey. We do offer alternative payment solutions like cash discounts and CareCredit. Would either of these be an option for you? Or would you like to discuss more payment solutions?”
For more information on how to navigate tough patient scheduling objections, schedule a call with one of our Call Box experts HERE!