Communicating Effectively for your Practice

Communicating Effectively for your Practice

Post from DSN User:

“Had a humbling moment with my team recently.

Basically, we have cancellation policies and prepayment policies for appointments that are consistently ignored.

It has been on my backburner to address, as I see it as a leadership and accountability issue….

What I discovered, is that my policy was just really not very clear. While I could elevator pitch it to you, there are a lot of grey areas that made it difficult for my team to commit to it. So it really demonstrated a breakdown in communication between myself and my team.

So, this is my new cancellation policy that we brainstormed.

Would like some feedback if anyone wants to give it a read. One thing this document contains, which I think is paramount to team buy in, are the reasons behind the policy.

I also have a shorter more bullet list quick version.”


The issue at hand is communicating effectively. Often times people assume they conveyed their ideas or message in a crystal clear way but it’s necessary to take into account how other people interpret things. One person could think a concept was explained clearly but the person next to them might not agree and have questions for more clarification.

The DSN poster has asked for feedback in regards to his new cancellation policy. Below you will see commentators giving feedback on the poster’s cancellation policy but you will also see comments about communicating effectively and why that matters.


From an expert member on the East Coast:

“I think it’s better to make them understand the value of the appointment and make it hard as hell for them to reschedule.

Do I have cancellations and no shows? Hell yes. I hate them. But for those who are the PITA ones, we handle them in a specific way.

1) We do phase one on your policy: try to save the appointment.

2) If that doesn’t work, we listen to the excuse. If it’s valid and they never miss, we let it go and let them schedule ASAP. If it’s not a good excuse, but they are a great patient, we let it go the first time.

3) Second time is different. We try to save appt, but if not, we tell them we are sorry they have to cancel and let them know “let’s find you another appointment that works for you…. Currently our first appointment available for XXX is in 6 weeks. Since this was a difficult appointment for you (if that applies because of traffic, work etc), perhaps we can find a better day or time for you?

4) If they have an appointment with me for anything major, they ride them very hard and let them know that this was a 2?3? hour appointment with Dr. XXX and these are “premium” appointments that are very hard to get. Is there anything you can do to make it? Perhaps coming a little late and staying through lunch?

5) If a great patient and they never cancel, we’ll find another time for them. If not a great patient, we push them out (typically I’m 3 months out for non-emergency tx anyway, so they just find my first available.

Finally, let me say this. It doesn’t happen often, but I have had to 1) change people’s appointments because a lab case didn’t come in, 2) change appts because I was sick or had a sick family member or another matter I had to deal with on short notice, 3) ran into an unexpected longer appt than normal and asked them if they’d like to stay or come back another time. Again, this doesn’t happen often, but I certainly don’t want them looking at a cancellation policy that’s one sided…”


And this from another user on Communication- “What gets said, and what gets heard”

“This concept of clarity in communication could arguably be our most important job as visionaries of our company. Here is a great example non related to dentistry.

We host a workout group every morning at 5am at our house. Usually 8-12 people show up everyday and I have become the de facto leader of the group and in charge of coming up with the workouts. This group is some of my closest friends and very accomplished, intelligent people. A doctor, a vet, 2 high level bankers, a chemist, a college professors . . .Smart people

Today I organized the workout and jotted down a summary of it on our white board. In my head it was clear as day. Simple. Straight forward. I started the timer and the workout began. For the first 5 minutes of the workout people were confused, didn’t know where to go, how many reps to do, how much weight to use, who do they partner with . . .

They were coming to me with questions DURING THE WORKOUT and I was getting frustrated . . .thinking to myself, “are you kidding me” I was thinking to myself

In retrospect I was so UNCLEAR about the workout instructions and these extremely intelligent people didn’t get it but they had the insight and courage to approach me for more clarity.

SAME THING HAS HAPPENED TO ME AT WORK, except Im probably even less clear and Im not dealing with accomplished professionals, Im dealing with girls making 20 bucks an hour who are very intimidated by me. It’s amazing that we get anything accomplished.”


So In Summary:

 Be crystal clear, over communicate, ask questions to verify that clarity has been achieved . . .

Otherwise we are swimming in mediocrity.


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