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5 Reasons to Spend 5 Minutes on the Phone with New Patients

Posted by Rick Lau on Apr 19, 2022 7:30:00 AM
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5 Reasons to Spend 5 Minutes on the Phone with New Patients

When a new potential patient calls your health clinic for the first time, that phone call may be your only chance to convert them into an actual patient who pays you to help them get better. This is true whether you are a dentist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, or another kind of healthcare specialist.

So the question is – how long should you plan to spend on that first call?

Some would argue that for efficiency’s sake and not wanting to keep other callers or in-office patients waiting, it’s best to keep the call as short as possible.

But that’s a shortsighted perspective...

For reasons you’re about to see that came up in a recent episode of New Patient Secrets...

You can watch the full webinar here. In this webinar, Rick Lau talked with Front Office Guru Dee Bills about how to train your front desk and your patient care coordinators to book more appointments and sell more plans of care, but without being salesy.

Dee Bills is a physical therapist who shifted to admin and front desk operations in her own clinic many years back.

She made this shift because too many patients were not booking, or booking and then cancelling, and it was threatening the survival of the clinic she was running with her husband.

After implementing her new approach, cancellations all but disappeared, with over 95% of bookings now showing up for their appointments. Now, she coaches other healthcare clinics, focusing on front desk and patient care coordinator phone training, which is where clinics bleed most of the easiest revenue they could be earning.

Here are five reasons Dee says you should spend at least 5 minutes on every call with a first-time caller.

1. Trust Converts, and Trust Takes Time

Build trust in opening phone call with the new patients

As Dee discusses early in the webinar, new patients decide to book appointments at much higher percentages when they feel heard and understood. They book when they trust you, when they believe you are the best specialist to help them.

But winning trust takes time. To win a patient’s trust, you have to take the conversation away from the transactional questions that the patient usually begins with. They like to ask about insurance, available time slots, and things of that sort so they can compare you to other clinics.

You need to take control of the conversation and shift the focus on the patient. What are they dealing with? How long have they been suffering from their condition? What caused it?

And, you need to empathize with whatever they’re going through. Be sincere about expressing how hard their situation is and that the specialists at your clinic would love to help them feel better.

Shifting the conversation in this direction is far more effective than a transactional approach, but it also takes more time. You can’t have this kind of talk in one minute. That’s not enough time for a patient to tell their story, let alone feel heard.

So, you want to train your front desk team, with phone scripts to help them, so they can have conversations at this deeper and more personal level.

2. If You Lose the Patient, You Get Nothing

If you lose the patient, you get nothing

If you lose patients in one-minute calls, but you gain more of them in five-minute calls, then that extra four minutes would be more than worth it, right? You are in the patient care business. It is a business, even though some don’t always like to think of it that way.

No patients, no business.

Take the time to win more patients, and you will get to help more people get better.

What if your front desk is already overwhelmed and doesn’t feel like they have time for longer calls? Well, then you have some choices to make. Maybe you need to hire an additional person. If you end up booking more patients a result, the position will pay for itself.

Check out this swipe post to learn how to winback lost patients over the phone:

3. How Much Is One Patient Worth?

A typical plan of care at many clinics is worth about $1200. What is an average patient worth at your clinic? If your booking rate is low (meaning under 80%), and your cancellation rate is high, then you are losing tens of thousands in revenue, every month.

The cancellation rate at Dee Bills’ clinic was so bad that only about 75% of their booked appointments were showing up. After implementing her new systems, she increased that number to 95%. That’s a huge increase in revenue, whether her average patient represents $1200, $600, or $800 in lifetime revenue.

4. You’ll Get Better at Using Your Phone Scripts

Practice makes perfect. Your team will continually improve at using phone scripts to respond to various situations. And they’ll improve faster if they’re encouraged to spend more time on the phone with new patients, rather than to get off the call as quickly as possible.

Let callers voice objections about insurance coverage. Let your team respond to situations like being overbooked,  or having to put people on hold.  There are scripts for all these scenarios.

And if you track each team member’s performance using specific call metrics, you can see who is performing the best, and who needs additional targeted training. See the 3 call metrics that matter most.

Check out this video to learn how to Winback Lost Physio Patients With This Script:

5. Your Call Recording Will Produce Better Data for Training and Hiring

Lastly, if you’re doing call recording for your dental office, physical therapy clinic, chiropractic clinic, or any other type of physician’s clinic, you’ll get better data.

Each call lets you see how patients respond to your scripts and how each front desk receptionist and patient care coordinator is responding to callers. With this data, matched up with call metrics like answer rates and booking rates, you can start identifying areas of strength and weakness, including which scripts work best, and then target your front desk phone training to the people and situations where it’s needed most. Learn how to give constructive criticism your team will love you for.

Also, call recording longer calls will improve your ability to hire new patient care coordinators because you will know what works and will have examples to show them even during the interview process. If you wanted them to walk through a hypothetical call, for example, you could use a real call recording as the source. See a front desk position hiring guide.

With a super short one-minute call that is purely focused on transactional questions, the value of your call recording data will be much more limited.

You can also watch this video on Why you should spend at least 5 minutes talking to a new patient on the phone:


Watch Dee’s Full Episode of New Patient Secrets

Dee’s conversation with Rick Lau touches on much more than how long your calls with new patients should be. Later on in the same webinar, you’ll learn her top sales tactics to easily double your caseload without spending more on marketing. You get the do’s and don’ts of talking to patients, and why most clinics get this wrong. She’ll share tips to lower same day cancellations and no-shows.

You’ll also get her phone secrets that are guaranteed to increase your conversions, the biggest mistakes clinics make with their front desk phone training, and how to get team buy-in without overwhelming them.

Watch the full webinar here

FAQ

1. How long should the front desk spend with patients over the phone?

If you lose patients in one-minute calls, but you gain more of them in five-minute calls, then that extra four minutes would be more than worth it, right? You are in the patient care business. It is a business, even though some don’t always like to think of it that way. No patients, no business. Take the time to win more patients, and you will get to help more people get better.

2. What if the front desk is already overwhelmed and doesn’t feel like they have time for longer calls?

Well, then you have some choices to make. Maybe you need to hire an additional person. If you end up booking more patients a result, the position will pay for itself.

3. How much is one patient worth to a clinic?

A typical plan of care at many clinics is worth about $1200. What is an average patient worth at your clinic? If your booking rate is low (meaning under 80%), and your cancellation rate is high, then you are losing tens of thousands in revenue, every month.

 

Who is Rick Lau and CallHero?

Rick Lau, the founder of Callhero and Clinic Accelerator (a community of clinic owners)

Rick has built three 10 million dollar healthcare businesses over the past 15 years including a network of 127 clinics with over 1400 employees. He is one of the most sought-after mentors for clinic owners in Canada and USA where he helps owners double, triple, and even quadruple their profits by optimizing their clinic operations using his proven systems and leadership strategies. Plus, he has spent over millions in google and facebook ads during his career.

You can follow him on Instagram

Topics: Call Performance

 

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