How to Reduce Cancellations for Your Dental Practice

It’s no secret that dental accountants sometimes wear many hats. While some handle only the financial side of the business, others find themselves operating as veritable practice managers in many cases, handling certain day-to-day operations that help push the practice in a forward direction. Often times, this means actively trying to reduce the amount of cancellations and missed appointments that occur, which can be highly disruptive to practices both large and small.

Tired of dealing with cancellations? You’re not alone. Here are a handful of things you can do to reduce their frequency, each of which will give you more control over the financial future of your practice.

Handle Appointments Over the Phone

There’s a lot to be said about the proliferation of digital technologies that have helped streamlined daily business for dental practice managers and accountants. Today, appointments can often be made and broken via email, text message or online form, potentially saving a great deal of time for staff members who are otherwise busy handling separate tasks. The lack of personalization, however, can lead patients to cancel their appointments on the fly and with no great reason. By handling appointment scheduling and cancellations over the phone, your patients will be less likely to avoid their visits than they otherwise might.

Express Urgency

Many people simply do not like going to the dentist, and they shouldn’t necessarily be blamed as a result. Some, on the other hand, simply don’t understand the urgency and needs associated with certain appointments. If you have a patient scheduled for a root canal, for example, he or she may choose not to come in simply because they don’t realize that they need to—clearly a recipe for a cancelled appointment. Be sure to fully explain when and why a patient is due for their next visit, as education plays a huge role in retention.

Consider Dismissing “Problem” Patients

Some patients are “serial cancelers,” meaning they show patterns of cancelling and rescheduling more than just once or twice in a calendar year. It’s up to you to determine exactly how important it is to keep certain patients on your roster, but if the problems keep persisting, you may find yourself with little choice but to dismiss those who are prone to repeat cancellations. After all, your time is valuable, as is that of your staff. If the cancellations keep coming, it may be time to nip things in the bud.

Cancellations scheduling issues are bound to pop up from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they’re 100% out of your hands. Work with your patients, and you may find that missed visits become a thing of the past.

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