Helping Patients Keep Their Dental Appointments

April 11, 2024

Cancellations and no-shows are some of the most costly and frustrating challenges that small dental practices face on an ongoing basis. While there is no magic healthcare practice advice that can help your dental office eliminate no-shows entirely, there are steps you can take to drastically reduce them. Focusing on reducing no-shows can help you improve patient outcomes and achieve and maintain financial stability within your practice.

The problems with no-shows

No-shows do not just throw off your schedule or inconvenience your staff. They actually cut into your bottom line, and we mean big time.

According to Dental Economics, 10% of dental appointments end up being no-shows or cancellations. If every dental practice were to experience one no-show per day, it would equate to a loss of between $20,000 and $70,000 per year. These figures only account for the direct costs associated with missed appointments. There are several indirect costs of no-shows, which include loss of productivity, reduced employee morale, reduced employee retention rates, and low patient retention rates.

Then there is the fact that missed appointments lead to poor patient outcomes. When patients routinely fail to show up for their appointments, they often miss out on necessary treatment. Unfortunately for dental practices, when a condition worsens because of a patient’s failure to keep an appointment, the patient often blames the dentist instead of assuming accountability. This could result in negative word-of-mouth for the practice and low referral rates.

How to reduce the rate of no-shows

A large part of dental office management is ensuring that patients remember and keep their appointments. Yet, this is something that office managers typically have to learn for themselves through trial and error. If you have been through enough trial and error, or if you want to skip the expense associated with it entirely, use these tops tips for reducing no-show rates in your dental office.

Use appointment reminders

Per Dental IQ, a key way to keep patients from breaking appointments is to simply remind them of upcoming visits. Call one to two days ahead of appointment dates to give patients friendly reminders of the date and time. Ask patients about their preferred modes of communication and use any and all that apply, such as text, email, phone, and patient portals. You will be surprised by how many of your patients will come to rely on and even appreciate friendly reminders.

Offer same-day appointments

Many patients break appointments simply because the time slot they selected weeks or even months earlier no longer works for them. For your busier, harder-to-nail-down patients, consider offering same-day appointments or even completing treatment in a single, elongated visit.

Give friendly welcome calls

High broken appointment rates occur among new patients. Though the exact reason for this is unclear, you can encourage new patients to show up by making a friendly welcome call a couple of days before the appointment. Introduce yourself, express your excitement to meet them, and address any questions or concerns to reduce new patient anxiety.

Charge a broken appointment fee

You should only use this as a last resort option if the other methods do not work. Consider waiving the first cancellation fee and only charging repeat offenders.

Get more healthcare practice advice

Dental office management is a complex job that often requires a team effort. For the help you need keeping your dental office on track and in good financial standing, reach out to our team at Doctor Genius at 1-877-477-2311 today.

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