When running a dental practice, one of the biggest, ongoing pressures you will face is last-minute appointment cancellations and worse than that – patient no shows. Admin staff and dentists often invest a lot of time and effort into the scheduling of appointments only to have their hard work undone by cancellations which often means more time, money and resources being exhausted unnecessarily. Below are some effective methods and policies which you can put in place in your practice in order to guarantee fewer cancellations and disruptions to your schedule:
Make sure to send your patients reminders about their appointment. People often have busy lives and may simply forget about their appointment or have the wrong date/time in their head. Find out from each patient if they prefer text, email or phone calls and then give them their reminders via that method as it’s more likely to be effective.
Talk to Patients
Often it can be very effective to simply talk to your patients when they are in the practice and explain, in a friendly way, how disruptive it is when patients cancel or don’t show up to appointments. It’s easy to ignore a message or an email but if you make a point of explaining to each of your patients face-to-face that it has such a negative impact on the practice, they will be much more likely to give you notice when they need to cancel.
Use the 3-3-1 Method
Send a reminder 3 weeks before the appointment, 3 days before and then 1 day before, unless a patient asks you to do otherwise.
Give New Patients a Call
When a new patient signs up for your practice, have their dentist call them up just to say hello and welcome to the clinic. Doing little things like this really show that you’re willing to go the extra mile and genuinely care about your patients. In return, your patients are likely to feel more of a sense of loyalty to your practice and will always try to avoid messing you around with their schedule.
Often within dentistry, treatments need to be completed across a series of appointments with specific timings between each one. Often, it may be difficult to schedule an appointment into the specific time frame which has been requested by the dentist or patient. Having standby priority lists is a great way to solve this issue as it means that when people cancel or reschedule appointments, you can contact those people whose treatments or appointments need to be prioritised.
Be Prepared to Dismiss Patients
Sometimes, life gets in the way of our plans and we simply can’t avoid having to cancel appointments last minute. Anyone whose business or practice centres around people has to understand this to a certain extent so you should always try to show compassion towards patients and their circumstances. However, as a general rule, a three-strike system is generally pretty fair. If you have a patient who has simply been a no show three times in a row without explanation, dismiss them from your practice. In fact, if you have a patient who doesn’t show twice and doesn’t seem to be in any way apologetic, tell them that from now on they can only be on your standby list. Be understanding, but also firm.
At Presidental, we are committed to helping your dental practice run as efficiently and as smoothly as possible. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your dental equipment and practice, contact us today!