The Science of Appointment Control


What do you do when a patient cancels their appointment at the last minute? Does this happen frequently in your office? Cancellations and no-shows can cause lost revenue for your practice – never a good thing.

So what can be done? It might seem as though life happens and cancellations cannot be avoided. There ARE ways to make regularly broken appointments a thing of the past. While unforeseen events do come up that can cause a patient to cancel their appointment, the scheduling coordinator has more power than they may realize.

What are the top reasons for broken appointments?

  1. No concrete financial arrangements.
  2. The patient does not value the service.
  3. The appointment is not properly confirmed.
  4. Patient objections are not detected and handled.
  5. The patient is past due on their account.
  6. Incorrect information is on file.

As you can see, the scheduling coordinator can avoid many of these situations by being proactive. If broken appointments are common in your office, it’s time to create a strategy to gain control over the schedule.

Start by making sure that your patients understand why treatment is being recommended. Use your intra-oral camera and good verbal skills to explain why care is needed. Make it a priority to take the time to educate your patients about the benefits they will receive by accepting recommended treatment. They need to know how important dental care is if you want them to value your service. If they can see the benefits, they will attend their appointments and continue to return.

Remember that patients are more likely to change their mind if they have to wait more than 10 days for an appointment. Get them in as soon as possible when they call!

Make sure that you make firm financial arrangements with patients prior to scheduling. Before hanging up, ask them if they have any questions and make sure that you address any concerns they may have.

Make a note of patients who routinely miss appointments. Then, you can double-book these patients or call them to schedule for the following day if there are open spots.

Once you address the main reasons why cancellations happen in your office, it will be easier to prevent them. For even more tips and insight into why cancellations happen and how they can best be avoided, check out our ebook: The Science of Appointment Control. Written by an award-winning practice management consultant Sandy Pardue, this ebook will help you create your ideal strategy for gaining control and reducing broken appointments in your practice.