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Reducing Patient No-Shows and Cancellations


Patient cancellations and no-shows are a major source of hassle for dental practices. Between the lost income and the wasted appointment slots, they can really affect your bottom line. It’s not even just a financial blow; repeated no-shows or cancellations can be seriously demoralizing to a team.

So, how do you reduce patient no-shows and cancellations at your clinics? Here are some tips you can employ:

Make Appointments Easy For Patients

More and more dental clinics are finding success in having later operating hours to make it easier for patients to schedule appointments. Rather than trying to get people to take time out of their busy 9-5 work days, they provide after-hours appointments and weekend slots.

Having a more flexible appointment schedule will help make it easier for patients to book times that they can realistically attend, lowering their no-show rate.

Set Up Reminders

Many customer resource management systems allow you to set up automatic reminders at scheduled times after a booking is made. Text and email reminders of pending appointments help to reduce no-show rates by keeping the booking fresh in people’s minds. These are ideal for six monthly checkups, as it can be easy for patients to let it slip from their mind over the months.

Have A Cancellation Policy

Cancellation policies can be powerful tools, but many practices sometimes feel uneasy about it. A cancellation policy needs to establish a limit for when people can cancel an appointment without incurring a fee. Typically, this is 24-48 hours before the appointment time.

You can combine this with setting up non-refundable deposits for appointments. If the person doesn’t show, or cancels too late, you keep the deposit. If they reschedule, the deposit fee can be shifted to the new appointment.

Build Loyalty

You can’t beat the personal touch. Great customer service is the biggest selling point of any business that has a face-to-face interaction with its clients, and dentistry is no different.

•Make sure front of office staff are warm and welcoming.

•Listen to patient feedback and concerns.

•Be compassionate if cancellations or rescheduling is for reasons beyond a patient’s control. Nothing will turn people off faster than a dental office acting like a personal tragedy for a patient is an inconvenience to the clinic.

•Send birthday and holiday messages.

•Provide care packages after each visit. This might include good quality toothbrushes, floss, high quality toothpaste, or even offers on cosmetic procedures like tooth whitening.