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Dealing with Patient No-Shows 

No-shows and same-day cancellations can take a toll on your practice’s monthly revenue.  Patients with busy or complicated schedules may find it difficult to commit to an appointment  months in advance. Here are six ideas to help you keep your calendar full and your patients on  track. 

1. Implement a wait list. By providing an optional waiting list, you can turn one patient’s same day cancellation into another’s earlier appointment opportunity. When your patient schedules  their next visit, ask whether they want to be notified if you get an earlier opening. This can give  both your office and your patients added flexibility, as well as showing your patients that you  care about their convenience. 

2. Add a cancellation fee. While most practices find these fees rarely need to be enforced, the  option to apply a fee can impress on patients that your time is valuable and can act as a deterrent for missed appointments. Offer to waive one same-day cancellation or no-show — be it  an emergency, mistake, or otherwise — but retain the option to apply the fee for repeat  offenders. 

3. Consider offering extended hours. Many patients have difficulty keeping an appointment  during their workday. Time off from work, even for health care, can be limited. If your office has  the capability, try adjusting open hours by an hour or two before or after standard business  hours for flex appointments. Even offering this once or twice a week can help mitigate patients’  scheduling challenges. 

4. Call, text, and/or email day-before notifications. In some cases, appointments are  scheduled weeks or months in advance. During that time, work schedules can change, activities  may be planned, and the appointment can be forgotten. By contacting your patients the day  before their scheduled visit, you provide both a reminder and an opportunity to reschedule, if  needed. Even knowing a day ahead can help you fill a time slot that could otherwise sit unused.  Ask your patients how they like to be contacted for best results. 

5. Provide context during scheduling. If your patient doesn’t fully understand and accept the necessity of their treatment, they may fail to prioritize it. When you schedule the appointment,  restate the reason for the visit and why it is needed. Focus on the benefit of treating on  schedule, so they are more likely to think of their appointment as important. 

6. When no-shows or last-minute cancellations do occur, be sympathetic. As we all know,  life happens. If your patient does miss their appointment with little or no advanced notice, be  courteous and understanding of their situation. This helps instill positive feelings toward your  team, which can help them keep future visits a priority. 

No-shows and same-day cancellations can negatively affect your office, but they don’t have to  be devastating. By implementing these or other ideas, you can minimize the impact on  productivity while helping build loyalty and value with your patients. 

For more ideas on improving your systems, contact us for your consultation.