Dentist Counseling

Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: Stop the cancellations and no shows

Jan. 21, 2014
This tip may prevent some patients from cancelling

By M.L. Wheaton, RDH, MA, Pride Institute Consultant

So you're having trouble with cancellations and no shows. Join the club. There is an epidemic of this issue in dental offices around the country. We could hang our hats on any number of reasons, with the biggest one being "the economy," but that doesn't solve the problem. We can examine our methods and technologies regarding how we reach patients with our confirmation systems — postcards, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, chauffeur driven limousines?

But let's look at something we can do to build value for an appointment — the patient debrief.

A properly done debrief at the end of an appointment gives patients the reason they should return for their next appointment. The debrief is not just post-operative instructions, but rather answers all the "why, who, what, and when" questions. What was done at today's visit? Why it is so important to return for periodontal maintenance (since this epidemic seems to be hitting the dental hygiene department most severely)? When should this appointment occur?

All these issues should be addressed during the debrief. A simple and open-ended closing question, "What questions or concerns might I address for you?" allows patients to share any concerns they might have about making the next appointment. Make sure you’re sitting "knee to knee and eye to eye" with the patient, not multi-tasking by cleaning your operatory during the very important debrief!

Is this a silver bullet solution to the cancellations and no shows? Nope. But it is an essential ingredient to a recipe that will lead to great patient relationships.

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Pride Institute: Tuesday Tips from Pride Institute are provided weekly on theirFacebook page as well as in this column in DentistryIQ. To ensure you don’t miss any of Pride Institute’s proven methods to take your practice to the next level, visit, and like them on Facebook.