What Steps Should You Consider When Patients Cancel Their Appointments?
As a dental office owner, it's your job to implement scheduling protocols that are fit for the whole practice. Frequent last-minute appointment withdrawals and no-shows can disrupt your dental practice business. However, there are ways to prevent patients from canceling appointments or becoming no-shows and manage those who repeatedly miss their dental appointments.
Here are some tips that can help you minimize frequent cancellation of dental appointments.
Implement a No-Show Policy
It's common to allow one missed appointment, but charging a fee for any cancellation or no-shows after that should help minimize skipped appointments. Some dental practices will impose a nominal fee of about $25-35, while others will charge the entire cost of the appointment. The details are up to you.
Usually dental practices will require the patient to sign their agreement to the missed appointment policy while they are filling out other new patient paperwork. You can also place prominent signs in your practice as a reminder.
Set Up Automated Appointment Reminders
Learn how each patient prefers to hear from your dental office. Whether it's phone, email, or text, send multiple reminders accordingly, ahead of time. An automated text or email appointment notification is a good idea even if you are already making reminder phone calls. It provides an extra avenue to reach patients on days when making reminder calls is not feasible. With automated reminders in place, you'll have your bases covered.
Offer a Variety of Payment Solutions
Often, patients cancel appointments because they are financially strained. Canceling an appointment last-minute might seem like the only option when they can't afford to pay in full. You can prevent this situation by making patients aware of payment alternatives, including any discounts, financing programs, or payment plans that you offer at the time of booking the appointment.
Establish a Fill-in System
Instead of refusing requests for a same-day appointment, consider asking if patients want to stay on a cancellation waiting list. Last-minute cancellations can be frustrating, but a patient waiting-list can help you overcome the situation. You can use a patient scheduling platform that allows you to maintain a list of patients to be notified. While this doesn't solve the issue of your first patient canceling, it offers a solution to fill the gap, should the need occur.
It is essential for a successful dental practice, regardless of size to make sure patients keep their appointments. By employing the right technology and superior customer service, you can reduce the patient cancellation rate at your practice.
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