Stop That Dental Patient Cancelling

When dental patients cancel it costs you in lost production, lost chair-side time, lost morale and lost opportunities to present and schedule more treatment. Cancellations are also a time and energy suck in other ways as every time a patient doesn’t show up for a scheduled appointment, it sends your entire dental practice into chaos. Your team goes into panic mode as your front desk team or scheduling coordinator scrambles to find someone to take the open slot.

How To Reduce Cancellations And Save The Appointment Book

If you want to have a successful, thriving dental practice, you have to reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows that leave your schedule with gaping holes.

You’ll never eliminate cancellations and no-shows entirely, but if you can address why your patients cancel and look at what can be leading up to that then you can go a long way to reducing the issue and have patient who will keep their appointments.

Reasons Why Patients Cancel Dental Visits

  • They don’t understand what is needed and what will happen if they don’t get it done.
  • They don’t have the money and are/were too embarrassed to discuss it with you or your team.
  • You failed to build rapport and trust as a team.
  • Fear and anxiety about the treatment.
  • Your front desk team are not trained or skilled in helping patients keep their appointment when they call to cancel.

If you can overcome some of these barriers to keeping appointments you will have a lot less cancellations.

Let’s explore some ways to cancel the cancel and help your book stay full and productive.

1.  Educate Your Patients

Uneducated patients are less likely to show up for their scheduled appointments. Use hand mirrors and intra-oral cameras to show them what’s going on in their mouths. Answer any questions they have, and make sure they understand the consequences of not going forward with recommended treatment.

2. Make It Important

Make sure patients know how important it is to maintain their oral health and to show up for their hygiene appointments.

3. Pre-appoint

Pre-appoint reliable patients, and flag any patients who have at least two no-shows as unreliable. Call these patients as appointment times come up rather than scheduling them months in advance.

4. Be detailed

Go over every detail with the patient before they leave your practice. Like this: “Joan, your one-hour appointment is scheduled for Wednesday, October 12 at 1 p.m. If you can’t keep this please call our office at least 48 hours in advance to allow another patient the opportunity to see Dr. Bruce at that time.”

5. Confirm appointments

Train your scheduling coordinator to confirm appointments two days in advance.  I also recommend scheduling time to confirm appointments after hours. This ensures you reach patients who are busy during the day.

6 . Have a policy

Create a broken appointment policy, and communicate that policy with both new and existing patients. If patients know your practice has a broken appointment policy, they’ll be less likely to flake out. Remind patients of your policy every time they make an appointment.

Cancellations and no-shows not only lead to stress, they also cost the practice money. If you follow these tips, more patients will show up for their appointment times, boosting your production numbers and growing your bottom line.

Set the right expectations from the start.

Most “lost” appointments were not lost on the day you were expecting to see the patient; they were lost the day the appointment was made, because it was not made with the right value.