Sad Tooth

Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: How can dentist stop Monday appointment cancellations?

May 20, 2014
This dentist is frustrated because patients consistenly cancel on Mondays

Recently, I received a heartfelt email from a doctor who is an alumnus of Pride Institute. He wrote, “For several years I’ve had difficulty getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday night. It has to do with Mondays falling apart on a regular basis. We always end our week with a good, productive Monday schedule in place, and by the time we come in Monday morning our voice mails are all cancellations. Often some of our best and most dependable patients are cancelling! Over the years I’ve wondered why the voice mail isn’t full of patients urgently needing appointments, given the volume of untreated conditions that exist. I literally come in Monday mornings bracing myself for the bad news our huddle will bring. It happened again this morning. Over half of my scheduled production for today cancelled after hours on Friday.

"My question is: how can I deal with my feelings about this? I’m angry, irritable, and often have a horrible attitude. I don’t want to be here doing office work (emailing my consultant) and checking hygiene patients. Frankly, I’d rather have the day off. It’s impossible to be an inspiring leader when my heart is not in the game. I’m sick of Mondays being like this, and nothing we’ve tried has improved the situation.”

In response, another dentist alumnus wrote: “The first thing is to breathe. Even when situations like this happen, remember to take a deep breath, thank your staff for being there, and let them know you appreciate their dedication. The cancellations do not define you and they do not have to control you or your emotions. Concentrate on the patients who are there. Embrace them (figuratively) and be thankful they came. You are so right when you say, ‘It's impossible to be aninspiring leaderwhen your heart is not in the game,’ and yet as a leader, those challenging times are when the staff looks to you for confidence, calmness, and an ‘It’s going to be OK’ message.”

Now I ask: Do any of the hygiene patients who come in have incomplete treatment? Could they be seen by you after hygiene or called to come in early for treatment before hygiene? Do any of your staff need treatment? Do you have a list of short call patients who need your services? Can you do some staff training with your assistants?

What is your staff doing that is effective during the week that falls apart on Friday? Is there a way to have confirmation calls, text, or email messages done over the weekend if these are performed during the week?

When you have a chance, look back at your tracking and check your Monday production. Is what you’re describing supported by true numbers? How does production on Mondays compare with other workdays? Are more than half below your daily production goal? Are certain procedures the ones that are cancelled more often? Do the patients reschedule for other days and keep those appointments? Maybe having a shorter workday on Monday might help.

What do you consider outside factors that cause your day to crumble? Is it patient illness, patient forgetfulness, patient apathy? Again, try not to take it personally when patients fail to show up. That does not define you or your practice.

I understand your challenge of being an inspiring leader when your heart is not in the game, but expecting a bad day is a tough way to start the week. I encourage you to come into the office preparing not for a bad day, but instead being thankful, caring for those you encounter, and responding positively to any changes that come your way.

Would any readers care to share what you do to get through your Mondays?

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