10 Strategies for Navigating Patient Cancellations and No-Shows in Dental Practices

10 Strategies for Navigating Patient Cancellations and No-Shows in Dental Practices

We know firsthand the struggle of dealing with patient cancellations and no-shows in your dental practice. That’s why we’ve got your back! We grabbed our founder, Dr. Brett Wells, and Carrie Webber, owner of The Jameson Group to help you deal with the rising cancellation rates and no-shows you’ve started to see. 

As a dentist with multiple offices, Dr. Wells has witnessed a rising rate of cancellations and no-shows, and research confirms the trend! It used to be that most office’s no-show rates were below 10%. But according to data from Dental Intelligence, the average is approximately 11% to 15%, with 10% being considered “good.” But don’t get down about the numbers, if you haven’t yet addressed the cancellation problem at your practice, or you just have no idea where even to begin, we have 10 killer strategies to tackle those challenges and keep your practice running smoothly.

Get even more insights from Dr. Brett Wells and Carrie Webber in our recent Webinar!

Let’s dive in!

1. Be Strategic About Scheduling

Let’s start with a game-changer: strategic scheduling. Get patients involved by having them “double-check” their calendars when booking appointments. Use text and email reminders to keep them engaged and excited about their upcoming visits. By staying proactive with scheduling, you can minimize those last-minute cancellations. 

2. Get New Patients Scheduled FAST

Speed is the key when it comes to new patients! Aim to get them booked within a week or two of their initial contact. Making them feel welcome from the get-go sets the stage for better retention and fewer cancellations down the road. 

3. Make It Personal

Who doesn’t love a personal touch? Use patients’ names and specific appointment details in your reminders to make them feel valued. When patients know you’re thinking about them individually, they’re more likely to show up.

This is all about creating relationships with your patients and practicing strong verbal skills.  Practice, practice, practice your messaging! When working with the Jameson Group, practices are encouraged to build trust, urgency, need, and value into every patient experience.  This can come in the form of refining your messaging, listening to the phone calls that happen in your practice, and re-writing your phone call scripts, text messages, and email reminders. 

4. Have a Policy In Place:

Don’t leave cancellations up to chance - have a clear policy in place. Make sure patients know the deal: provide advance notice for cancellations or face the consequences. A solid policy helps keep things running smoothly and ensures that everyone is on the same page. 

5. Collect Deposits

Get serious about commitment by collecting deposits upfront for big restorative treatments. When patients invest financially, they’re more likely to follow through with their appointments. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Grab your checklist today and get 10 Strategies to Navigate Patient Cancellations and No-Shows at your Dental Practice 

6. Have a Confirmation Protocol

Set up a confirmation system that covers all the bases. Use texts, emails, and phone calls to remind patients about their upcoming appointments and confirm their attendance. Being proactive reduces no-shows and keeps your schedule on track! Want to know our winning formula? Watch the full webinar, and download our FREE strategy guide and checklist!

7. Institute a Cancellation Fee

Sometimes, a little incentive goes a long way! Implementing a cancellation fee can encourage patients to honor their appointments or give enough notice. Just be upfront about it! Including this policy in your patient paperwork gives them a chance to acknowledge it, and gives you the room to show a little grace when needed.

Remember, when working through cancellations, it’s helpful to be proactive about them FIRST. Are your policies clear on cancellations? Do your patients sign your cancellation policy? Be firm, and polite and help the patient understand the value of keeping the appointment. 

8. Consider Double Booking

Think outside the box when double-booking. For high-risk patients or unconfirmed appointments, it can be a game-changer. Just make sure you’re balancing efficiency with quality care. 

9. Break Up with High-Risk Patients

It’s okay to say goodbye to patients who repeatedly flake out. Set boundaries and stick to them - it’s all about maintaining a reliable patient base and keeping your practice running smoothly. 

10. Offer a Membership Plan

Offering a membership plan can boost loyalty and reduce cancellations. Members are more likely to prioritize their appointments and stick to their treatment plans. With DentalHQ, setting up a membership plan is a breeze! 

DentalHQ is a secret weapon for in-house dental membership plans that rock. Our automated platform simplifies plan management and increases patient engagement, so you can focus on what you do best - caring for your patients! 

Last-minute cancellations and no-shows will always be an unfortunate part of the dental practice game, especially in this post-pandemic world. There’s no magic bullet, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t solutions. You need to think of these solutions as puzzle pieces that take care of the big picture. Take a look at each one, and find out what you are doing well, and what you can improve. 

By implementing these strategies, you and your dental practice can reduce the amount of patient cancellations you experience, and hopefully, you’ll see more loyal patients as well. It’s a you win and they win kind of thing, and we all like those!

About Carrie Webber of The Jameson Group

Carrie Webber is the president and owner of The Jameson Group, a dental management coaching and marketing firm that works with dental practices nationwide. The Jameson Group helps dentists and teams become more productive, more profitable, and ultimately more fulfilled in their practicing lives. Carrie is a contributing author to several publications and blogs on the topics of dental management, leadership, marketing, customer service, and business development, as well as a popular speaker at dental meetings nationwide. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and has been named a Leader in CE by Dentistry Today for the past five years. Please visit The Jameson Group for more information on Carrie, and how they can help your practice.  

About Dr. Brett Wells of DentalHQ

Dr. Brett Wells has been a practicing dentist for the last 15 years. He founded DentalHQ in 2017 due to his frustrations with dealing with dental insurance and the absence of a solution that met all his needs. After running a successful group practice in Raleigh for nearly a decade, he leveraged his passion to develop hardware and software-focused systems in his practices to create a better patient experience while optimizing office operations and profitability, primarily through in-house membership plans. When he started, there was no platform on the market for membership automation - he sought to bring that to life with DentalHQ. Solving in-office problems for dental practices is still his passion, and as Chief Dental Officer, he provides the primary source of innovation for DentalHQ from the valuable perspective of a growing DSO. Brett studied Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and earned his DDS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry. 

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