Dealing with no-shows

Oct. 26, 2009

By Dianne Glasscoe-Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA

Three ways to deal with no-shows — first timers
1. Every patient who disappoints must be contacted through telephone, letter, or e-mail.
2. If the reason for missing the appointment was legitimate or serious, extend your regrets and best wishes. Realize that some disappointments are unavoidable.
3. If the reason for missing seems frivolous, offer to override the automatic disappointment fee. “When you missed your appointment at 10 a.m. with Dr. Smith, we were worried about you. Since this was the first time, I’m authorized to override the $100 disappointment fee.” This sends the message that any future offenses will carry monetary consequences.

Five ways to deal with no-shows — chronic offenders
It happened again, yet your handpiece sits idle. The patient did not call and cancel, and she has done this before.
1. Your business assistant should be proactive in identifying habitual offenders.
2. Reminder messages left on answering machines are not appropriate, which means chronic offenders should be spoken with directly. This may necessitate a call after regular hours.
3. Require a deposit from the offender to hold time in your schedule.
4. Dismissing some chronic offenders from the practice may be appropriate.
5. Ask chronic offenders to call on days they are available for potential scheduling.

Dianne Glasscoe-Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. She is CEO of Professional Dental Management, based in Frederick, Md. To contact Glasscoe-Watterson for speaking or consulting, call (301) 874-5240 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit her Web site at