Reducing Cancellations in Your Dental Practice

March 14, 2018 3:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

 

Perhaps you think you have all your ducks in a row. You have advanced systems and online scheduling, but for some reason, your dental practice still has too many cancellations and no-shows. Even one per day can cost your team tens of thousands of dollars per year.

What can you do to reduce your cancellation rate?

We recently worked with a practice that had great automation in their systems. Patients received texts or emails to remind them of their appointment, and they scheduled online. However, they were seeing a lot of broken appointments in their hygiene department.

They assumed that because patients scheduled online and received automated reminders, that there was no need for someone at the practice to follow up with them. While texts and emails are great (and more patients are starting to expect them), they are no replacement for person-to-person contact.

3 Ways Your Dental Practice can Reduce Cancellations and No-shows

If they only ever interact with a machine, your patients won’t develop the personal rapport and connection to your practice that you would like. If they have something come up, they feel less pressure to make their appointment or reschedule it if it’s only hurting an automated system.

This is especially true for new patients. Patients that are new to your practice haven’t developed a relationship with anyone there, and even with automated reminders, new patients are still much more likely to cancel or no-show your team.

Call New Patients

I recommend that the doctor take just a few minutes each day to personally call new patients scheduled for the following day. Take it up a notch and check on them again after their first appointment with you. You can rapidly accelerate the formation of rapport with a patient by taking the initiative and doing it yourself. Doing so can greatly reduce the number of broken appointments you’ll see.

Reduce the Wait Time for New Patients

When a patient takes the time to track you down and schedule an appointment, something motivated them to do that. Whatever it is, we can’t count on that same motivation being there eight weeks down the road. Get a new patient in as soon as your able, as a long wait time increases the chances of a cancellation or no-show.

Put No-shows on Standby

My usual rule is that everybody gets one. We’ve all missed a meeting at one time or another, but you can’t allow repeat offenders to keep disrupting your practice. Patients that have shown poor attendance is a habit shouldn’t be scheduled unless they pay up front. Alternatively, they can be on standby and receive a call the same day an opening pops up in your schedule.

Your Dental Practice is not a Self-Service Station

Technology should enhance what you do and make your team more efficient, but it’s not a replacement for interaction. Broken appointments will always be a challenge that dentists will face, but these techniques should help you reduce how often they happen.

Have you registered for our annual 2018 Sunrise Summit? If not, learn more and register now so you don’t miss out on all the fun come September!

 

~Linda O’Grady

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