6 ways to reduce cancellations and broken dental appointments

Downtime is the great destroyer of profit. While there are no surefire ways to completely eliminate cancellations and dental appointment no-shows, Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, MBA, shares some strategies you can employ right now to keep downtime to a minimum.

As everyone knows, downtime is the great destroyer of profit. When the doctor’s drill is silent, the doctor is temporarily unemployed!

Unfortunately, there are no surefire ways to completely eliminate late cancellations and no-shows. However, here are some strategies you can employ to keep downtime to a minimum:

1. Business assistants must be proactive in identifying patients with a history of disappointment or late cancellation. Nondependable patients must be dealt with differently than dependable patients.

2. It is unacceptable to leave reminder messages for any patient who has a history of cancellation/disappointment or new patients. You must speak to these patients directly, even if it requires a call after regular business hours.

3. Do not allow patients with questionable dependability to preschedule hygiene appointments six months into the future. Send these patients a reminder card when it is almost time for their visit with instructions to call the office for an appointment. These patients provide a ready source of patients who can fill openings in the immediate schedule.

4. Do not use the phrase “confirmation call.” Consider the appointment confirmed when the patient gives permission to be placed in the schedule. Calls made prior to the appointment are “courtesy reminder calls.”

5. During face-to-face contact, ask the patient if he or she would like a “courtesy reminder call.” If the patient says no, a reminder call is not needed. The business assistant can say, “Great; I’ll make a note of that. Thank you for being dependable.”

6. Build a database of patient email addresses and offer email or text message reminders. Always ask your patients’ permission before sending text messages, as some incur additional phone charges and may not wish to receive texts.

Author bio
Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, BS, MBA, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. Dianne’s new book, “The Consummate Dental Hygienist: Solutions for Challenging Workplace Issues,” is now available on her website www.professionaldentalmgmt.com. To contact her for speaking or consulting, call (301) 874-5240 or email dglasscoe@northstate.net.

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