The clock on the wall says 2:10. The patient was scheduled for a 2 p.m. appointment. It’s “dead time” in the dental office. Mid-afternoon for many practices sees production slow to a trickle. These tend to be some of the most difficult times to fill and the most likely to generate no-shows and cancellations.
Take steps to keep the schedule full and patients in the chair. Educate patients about the impact on the practice of last minute cancellations and no-shows. Many are completely oblivious to the fact that the appointment time has been set aside specifically for them, or that the doctor and/or the hygienist have prepared specifically for this patient’s procedure, and that someone else also in need of dental care could have taken advantage of that appointment, if they had been given the opportunity.
In addition, politely remind patients of the practice’s cancellation policy on a regular basis. It should be printed on appointment cards, mentioned in conversations, as well as included in text messages and emails. And patients who are 10 minutes late for their scheduled appointment should be called promptly to confirm that they are on their way.
You might say for example: “Hello Mr. Frank. This is Abigail from Dr. Adams’ office. We were expecting you for your appointment at 2:00, and I was concerned because you had not arrived yet.” Listen carefully to the patient’s response. He may be on the way and stuck in traffic. He might have had a legitimate emergency arise. Life does happen, and it’s important for staff to be sensitive to that when contacting patients. However, it’s also critical to document all no-shows and last minute cancellations into the patient’s record to track if situations such as this are occasional or common.
HEY! Have you had some really crazy excuses from late patients? Have you forgotten to call your patients? Feel free to share your experience right here on our blog! We do have hundreds of visitors who may want to hear from you too!