Dental Office Tips and Ideas to Reduce Same Day Broken Appointments

Dental Office Tips and Ideas to Reduce Same Day Broken Appointments

Hello Friends,

Are same-day broken appointments stressing you out? You leave the office at the end of the day with a beautiful, full schedule for the next day and arrive back at the office in the morning only to have the schedules fall apart at the last minute. Ugh! If this ever happens to you I know how frustrating that can be. Not to mention, it kills production.

In this article, you will find several ways to greatly reduce last-minute schedule changes. I am certain that if you follow each step, you will stress less, make more money, help more patients, and have more fun.  Please print it out and share it with everyone on the team. We need everyone in the office following the same protocol/system for you to be successful.  Consider reviewing this at your next huddle or team meeting.

Tips and Ideas to reduce last-minute cancellations and no shows:

Consistently Be Great! – Do everything to ensure that each and every patient has a great experience during their appointments.  Give them something good to talk about and a reason to keep coming back!

STOP moving appts around! A sure-fire way to aggravate patients, cause them to disrespect your time and the schedule, or for them to think you don’t know what you’re doing is by moving their appointment times. Unless, of course, they have asked to be on your Priority List.  Calling patients to come in early, come in late, or come in on a different day is annoying and I promise you it is hurting your schedule and production. I can’t emphasize this enough –  Respect their time and they’ll respect yours.

Appointment Reminder Systems – Ensure that you have an effective interval set up to remind patients of their appointments and that your message is helping not hurting the practice. For example, Don’t say “Calling to confirm” – it should be “We’re looking forward to seeing you on ____ at ____. OR ____ is looking forward to seeing you…” When is the last time you reviewed your electronic appointment reminder messages and intervals and your appointment confirmation protocol?

Unconfirmed Appointments – If it is 1 day before the appointment and you have a patient or patients’ that haven’t responded to your appointment reminders, you must pick up the phone and call the patient(s).  You shouldn’t be able to look at the day’s schedule during your morning huddle and see unconfirmed appts.

Cancels – Using the word cancel or cancellation sends a poor message to your patients. It tells them that cancellations happen and are expected. We don’t want that. You can say ”this doesn’t happen very often but if for some reason you need to change your reservation with ___, we ask that you please provide us with at least 48 hours notice.”

Stay on Time – See your patients at their appointment time. This means they should be seated in the treatment chair on or before their appt time. Avoid running behind schedule. (Tip: Make sure you are allowing enough time on the schedule for each procedure/appt type.)

Appointments ASAP – If a patient calls (especially a New Patient) to schedule an appointment and they can’t get in for 2 or more weeks you are at risk of that patient calling somewhere else to get an appointment sooner or other life’s distractions and priorities getting in their way moving them to cancel last-minute or no-show. If your schedules are so full that patients are having to wait to get in they might feel like you’re too busy for them or that their dental care needs are not important. If you do not have an immediate opening let the patient know that you’ll place them on your priority list and while it doesn’t happen very often if there is an unexpected change to the schedule and you can see them sooner they’ll be the first to know.

Doctors, if you’re struggling to reach your practice goals or that there is too much chaos in your practice– feel free to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation 30-minute telephone consultation at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com to see if a coaching relationship is right for you.

New Patients– Don’t rely on electronic reminders for your new patients. Instead, call and let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them and briefly share with them what to expect during their first visit.

Bad Appointment History – If a patient has a history of not showing up or canceling last minute, please don’t schedule any future appointments for them. However, if you find there are some patients on the schedule with a bad history (more than 2 or more broken appts)…call them at least 2 days in advance of appt. “Hello, this is ____ from ____. I am calling regarding your appointment on ____ at _____. I need you to please return my call by____ at ____. If I don’t hear back from you by that time we will assume you’ve changed your mind and will cancel your reservation.” This will you give you time to fill that appointment time with a different patient.

Treatment Plans and Financial Arrangements – Every patient that has an appt. scheduled with the doctor for treatment must have a copy of their treatment plan AND a financial agreement before the appt. Ideally, each patient should receive a copy of the treatment plan and a financial agreement at the time of diagnosis. DON’T ASSUME that the patient is OK with their financial responsibility simply because you gave them a copy of their treatment plan and they didn’t question the cost.  What often happens is they say OK and schedule and then will no-show or cancel at the last minute. OR they come in for the appt. not prepared to pay their portion.

Regarding their financial responsibility – put their co-payment amount in the appt notes so that you remember to remind them to bring it in w/them.

Many patients will not tell you they can’t afford the treatment. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO SAY YES by HELPING THEM FIND A WAY TO WORK IT INTO THEIR BUDGET. The total investment is ____ and we can do it for as little as ___ per month using our partner Care Credit. Have them apply for CC while they are there in the office.

Hygiene Patients – Schedule their next 3, 4, 6-month appt when they are at the office. Preferably, the hygienist should always schedule the next appointment from the treatment room. Take a second to stress to the patient how important this appointment is and what you’ll be looking for at their next appt. (It’s not just a cleaning and there is a reason for the recommended appt interval.)

Scheduling Appointment – When scheduling appointments for your patients let them know that this time is being reserved exclusively for them. Also, consider having patients pay their co-pay or leave a deposit at the time of scheduling. Especially, if you’re reserving more than an hour on the doctor’s schedule.

VALUE – Walk-Out Statement – Consider itemizing the hygiene appt walk-out statement to include the no-charge services… ie: Oral Cancer Screening, Nutrition Counseling, Oral Hygiene Instructions, Etc.  Be sure to ALWAYS give the full fee for that day even if they have “100 %” coverage with their insurance. They need to hear the actual dollar amount for each visit. Helps to put more value on the appt.

No-Shows / Late Arrivals – Always acknowledge your no-show/late patients with a call 3-5 minutes past their appt. time.  If you get a voice mail – let the patient know you’re concerned because they missed their reservation.  If the patient doesn’t reschedule or if they don’t return your call. Send them a kind letter reminding them they were missed and what your office appointment guidelines are for changing appts.  The assistant or hygienist should be making these calls 3 – 5 minutes past the appt time. If they can’t make the call right away they are responsible for having someone from the front office make the call for them. Be sure to document the action/ response.

Telephone – The dreaded telephone calls for same-day cancellation attempts from your patients. They can destroy a perfect schedule in a matter of minutes. Stay in control of your schedules. Create a system for how to care and respond to same-day cancellation attempts. Cancellations are not OK. Work together as a team to come up with scripting that works for your office. Think of all the different scenarios and reasons patients call to cancel (cost, illness, work, no babysitter, schedule conflicts, etc.) and role-play the best responses. Your goal should be, if appropriate, to respectfully help the patient find a way to keep the appointment as scheduled without threatening or embarrassing them.

If you currently leave it up to the patient to call back and reschedule you are not only creating more work for yourself but you’re putting the office at risk of losing that patient due to inactivity. Reschedule/reappoint the patient while you have them on the phone.

Whatever you do and no matter how desperate you are to fill the schedule DO NOT REAPPOINT habitual offenders! You should never be able to look at the schedule and point out who will most likely cancel or no-show. I’m sure that’s never happened in your office, right? 😉

Sending you wishes for a full and productive schedule… one that doesn’t fall apart!

Friends, if you do not know what your office’s broken appointment and reappointment numbers and percentages look like, including how many of your active patients are unscheduled, and many other important key practice indicators; please take note of what those numbers look like and what systems you have in place to track these patients.  You need to know where you’re at currently to know how to best care for your patients and what your potential for growth is. To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence  – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities.  I am happy to assist you with this at no charge.

I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK. Thank you!!

Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today.  If you prefer, send me your email address at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.

Yours for Greater Success,

Betty – Dental Coach

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, and Pinterest

Ten Steps to Create Healthy and Productive Fall Dental Hygiene Schedules

Ten Steps to Create Healthy and Productive Fall Dental Hygiene Schedules

Hello Friends,

Many dental offices are facing the potential for the weakest fall schedules they have ever experienced. For others, your schedules may look pretty good for September as you have been reappointing patients that had appts during the shutdown. It may even look better than ever. So, if you’re busy right now does it even matter what the schedule looks like for October and November? After all, there is still plenty of time to fill all those holes, right?

For numerous reasons, it matters greatly what your schedules look like for this fall and as for having plenty of time to fill those holes, well, we know what happens with time… it goes by very quickly, especially when we’re busy!

Typically, a full hygiene schedule today means a full doctor schedule tomorrow – why is that? Approximately, 75% of restorative needs are discovered during hygiene patient visits.

Unfortunately, when there is that open chair time with no production to collect on, your overhead expenses continue without letup.

This isn’t just about money though – our focus should always be on helping our patients smile healthier and happier. When Your Patients Are Healthy – The Practice Is Healthy. To help make our patients healthier we need them to schedule appointments.

how to fill holes in the dental hygiene schedule

Here are some tips and ideas that won’t require a lot of extra time or expense to help improve your schedules for this fall…

#1. Morning Huddle – At your morning huddle, review schedules for patients coming in without a future hygiene appointment scheduled, any family members due in hygiene, and patients with unscheduled treatment plans.  What is your plan to ensure that these patients leave with their next appointment scheduled.

#2. Broken Appointments – Who is tracking, and how are they tracking your broken appts? More importantly, what proactive steps are taken to reduce or eliminate broken appts in your office?  (One broken appt a day can cost a practice well over $30,000 a year in lost production. Imagine what that number looks like if you have more than one broken appt a day.)

If a patient cancels same-day be sure to get them reappointed while you’re on the phone with them. Unless of course, they are a habitual offender – poor appointment behavior doesn’t get rewarded with the privilege of reserving time on your schedule.  How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows

#3. Telephones – It is imperative that all team members are well-trained to effectively care for the patients and potential patients calling your office.  How many calls end with an appointment scheduled and how many do not? Are your office phones being answered during the times that patients and potential patients are most likely to call? How many times is the phone ringing before being answered? How often are callers being put on hold?

What about the “shopper” callers, the callers with insurance questions, the callers with questions about whether going to the dentist is safe or not, the callers asking if you’re accepting new patients, how do you know that these calls are being handled and cared for effectively? How do you know that your team members are not inadvertently keeping them from scheduling an appointment? Keeping you from welcoming them into the practice as new patients?

This may not seem like a big deal or related to what I am talking about today but how the telephone callers are cared for or not cared for has a big impact on your schedules and the growth of your practice.  Dental Office Telephone Principles

#4. Treatment Plan Presentations and Completions – Pull your unscheduled treatment plan reports. Even if you prefer to leave it to your patients to decide when they’re ready to schedule, you certainly can keep in touch with them and continue to gently plant some treatment reminder seeds of urgency, want, and need.

#5. Welcoming New Patients – What are your plans to successfully welcome more new patients into the practice? What are you willing to do differently in order to reach/exceed your monthly new patient goals?

#6. Community – What are some things you can do to get your name out there in the community?  If you’re not already, now is an awesome time to become the “go-to” dentist in your city/town.

What can you and your team do to give back to the community? Hint: I share ideas with you each month to do just that. Are you following my monthly emails? Dental Office Marketing, Leadership, and Management Tips and Ideas for September 2020

#7. Reviews & Recommendations – This one is super easy! Let your patients do some of the work, invite them to do the talking for you. Give them something good to talk about and spread to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. How? Consistently deliver excellent experiences via the telephone and in-person at their appointments. Make it easy for them to leave a review on Facebook and Google My Business.

Please do not underestimate the power of “fresh” online reviews and recommendations to grow your practice.

#8. Insured Patients – Mid September, early October start your end of year insurance “use it or lose it” reminders and campaigns.  Patients tend to wait until the last minute to try and squeeze in a dental appointment to use their remaining benefits – strongly encourage them to beat the end of the year rush.

#9. In-Office Savings Plan –   If your office offers an in-office savings plan, create some campaigns to let more uninsured people and local small businesses know about your awesome and affordable in-office savings plan.

This is especially important right now as many of your patients may have lost their dental insurance coverage – or they know someone that does not have insurance and can refer them to you.

#10. Continuing Education and Team Building – The fall season may be the perfect time to schedule some in-office continuing education and training. As well as some fun team building activities.

Bonus Tip: Celebrate your Success! –  This is going to require a team effort to enjoy productive and healthy schedules for the rest of this year and beyond so please be sure to find ways to celebrate your success. Reward the behavior that you want to see more of! 🙂

Wishing you all the healthiest and happiest schedules for this Fall!

Doctors, if you would like to grow and improve your dental practice and have wondered what it might be like to work with me and what coaching is all about… please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching call at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Are you receiving my complimentary Dental Practice Management and Marketing Ideas via your email each month? If not, please follow today or send me (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. 

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty – Dental Coach