QUESTION: How can I better communicate to patients the importance of arriving early to complete paperwork?

Help! 85% of our new patients show up either at their “appointment time” or even a few minutes late without their paperwork even filled out. Obviously this causes a slight amount of chaos in the office and also detracts from the new patient experience. We verbalize to the patient (multiple times) and it is spelled out in the new patient email (multiple times) we send the patient that they must arrive 10 minutes early for us to process their paperwork (if they’ve filled it out), and 20 minutes early if they have been unable to fill out their paperwork. Any tips or verbiage that you can offer that will help us better communicate this information to our patients, because we are missing the boat!

ANSWER: Thank you for your question and I’m sorry you’re having this issue. Unfortunately, this is typical in most dental offices. I have two suggestions for you:

  • ) Since the patients aren’t coming in early to fill out their paperwork or if they are hearing you ask them to come early but not finding it to be important, my suggestion is you confirm the appointment time with the patient for 15 minutes before the actual appointment.[mepr-show if=”loggedout”]Members only resources[/mepr-show] [mepr-active memberships=”629,630,37388,37393,37672,37676,37670,37668,37674,44674,232156″ ifallowed=”show” unauth=”message” unauth_message=”Answer hidden, please login or purchase a membership to view.”] Train your team when they are offering an appointment to offer an appointment 15 minutes before you actually want to see them. So if the new patient appointment starts at two, have your team offer a 1:45 appointment time.
  • ) Consider moving to online new patient paperwork. That is what we have done. We’ve recently started working with a company called Yapi in order to become fully paperless in our office. We now have our forms online that we direct our patients to fill out, so we can import all of their information into EagleSoft before they even arrive.