Cancellations can ruin well-orchestrated schedules while draining valuable time from the dental team as they scramble to fill the openings. Instead of reacting to cancellations, consider how you can take three proactive steps to decrease cancellations in your practice.
First, make sure all financial arrangements are covered in detail at the time when patients schedule. This includes coming to terms on how patients will pay. If a third party financing service is used, make sure patients have approval before putting them in your schedule. One of the biggest reasons why patients cancel is due to financial concerns.
Next, build value for each visit. When patients arrive on time, thank them for placing importance on their dental health. If you are scheduling patients for a return hygiene visit or for treatment, make sure patients understand why they are coming back. For example, explain how coming in for hygiene visits every six months is contributing to fewer cavities. If patients need treatment, use phraseology they understand to explain why treatment is needed (e.g., infection, cavity, or disease) instead of clinical terminology. And when patients are scheduled, build value for the visit by telling patients the time is reserved just for them.
Finally, consider why you are keeping patients in your practice who cancel regularly. Assuming there are no reasons to the contrary, one of the best ways to improve your schedule is to dismiss patients who do not respect your time. If you decide to give problematic patients a final chance, be sure to have candid discussions with each patient about your expectations.
By taking these proactive steps, you can decrease the number of cancellations in your practice, which will allow you to shift more of your focus to patient care.