Why Every Patient Should Schedule Their Next Appointment Before They Leave

patient scheduling

When you walk a patient up to the front and initiate the hand-off, the patient should be scheduled for their follow-up appointments or next treatment. While it’s ideal that every person walks out with their next visit on the books, it doesn’t always happen. Why? Usually, it is because the patient gives the front desk push-back. However, patient scheduling is important for many reasons. 

Here are a few tips to make sure everyone walks out with the next appointment they need. 

Train Your Front Desk on Patient Scheduling

It’s important that your front desk understands the importance and reasons behind getting patients scheduled before they leave. Otherwise, when they get the push-back, they will not take the right course of action to get the person on the books. Most medical offices have an appointment scheduling policy, but that is not necessarily enough of a motivation for a staff member to appoint someone. 

These are the benefits of having a patient scheduled before they leave: 

  • It’s best for their health – as their medical provider, it’s our responsibility to make sure they are being treated. 
  • Makes it easier to reschedule a patient – if they get a reminder about their appointment and call to reschedule, it’s easier to move it than it is to follow-up with them after they leave. 
  • They receive better healthcare –  patients get busy and their appointments get pushed. When you schedule them before they leave, it keeps it a priority. 

Yes, patients will push back against making a commitment to an appointment, which is why you must believe it’s in their best interest to schedule them. Otherwise, it’s easy to back off and let them walk out the door without follow-up care. 

How to Handle Patient Excuses

One of the biggest reasons that patients end up walking out without their next appointment, is that they have excuses. It is particularly hard to get them to commit to times that are a few weeks or months out. Here are a few responses to patient excuses: 

1. I Don’t Know My Schedule That Far Out

This is one of the top reasons that people are hesitant to schedule. They honestly don’t know what’s going on in a few weeks or months. The best way to respond to this is to say: 

We completely understand that you’re busy. Let’s get you scheduled now and we can re-schedule you later if it doesn’t work. 

2. I Need to Check With My Spouse First

Again, this is another valid reason that people don’t want to commit to an appointment. They want to go home and check with a spouse or family to make sure there are not conflicting things on their calendar. Here is a good way to respond: 

Yes, we know what it’s like to double-book yourself. Why don’t we just pick a day and you can call us when you get home if it doesn’t work for you. We’ll be happy to move that appointment for you. 

3. I’m Not Sure I Want to Move Forward With Treatment

Maybe they are just on the fence about the treatment options before them. It could be financial, or they may need to discuss the options with their family. In this case, you can say: 

That’s ok if you decide you don’t want to move forward with your treatment later on. Let’s just get you scheduled so the spot is saved for you if you want to move forward. 

Instill Good Customer Service in Your Staff

Ultimately, you are trying to instill good customer service habits in your staff. It’s not serving your patients to let them walk out the door without getting on the books. As long as you are gently encouraging patients to schedule their appointment, you are serving them well. You don’t want your front desk to be pushy, but a gentle explanation of the importance of scheduling is necessary. 

Front Desk Training Increases Conversions

There are many ways to bring in more business to your functional medicine office. For example, here at Functional Medicine SEO, we help our clients get more organic traffic which leads to more inquiries. But, SEO only gets you so far. Training your front desk to handle these opportunities will increase your conversions. Whether it is with new patients or existing patients, train your team to do what’s best for the person’s health. 

Contact us For Help With More Leads

If you would like to increase the number of new patients coming into your holistic health practice, get in touch with our team today. The experts at Functional Medicine SEO specialize in search engine optimization and Google My Business SEO. We’re happy to review your website for free and point out areas you’re doing well and areas you need to improve. For our free strategy session, please sign up here. 

Do not hesitate to contact us with your questions. One of our experts will reach out to you right away!


We're Hosting A Free SEO Link Building Workshop On December 16th!