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Maintain Your Dental Practice Profits by Dealing Effectively with Patients Who Chronically Break Appointments

Copyright (c) 2010-2019

Appointment cancels; broken appointments, and no-shows are a source of endless frustration in any dental practice. Although the vast majority of patients keep their appointments, about 10% of patients cause 80% of that frustration.

Developing a protocol for handling this group of patients is essential to avoid lost revenue of anywhere from $150 (minimally) to $700 per day, depending upon the procedure. With roughly 200 working days in a year, this works out to an annual loss of between $30,000 and $140,000.

Follow the four steps below to slow the daily losses.

How to Handle Failed Appointments

1. Identify the patients who are chronic offenders.

2. Use a code in your practice management software to designate these patients. Some codes, which may be beneficial are:

LA: Usually Late. These patients can wreak havoc on your schedule and drive up stress for everyone in the office.

SD: Same-day Patient. These are patients who have a history of cancellations (at least two cancellations). They should be told to call for a same day appointment.

DP: Doubtful Patient. No track record has been established yet, but the patient seemed hesitant at the time of setting appointment.

3. Be proactive in managing the difficult patients.

LA: Communicate the importance of being on time in a way that makes sense to the patient. Tell them that your appointment schedule is sequential, and if one person turns up late, the entire schedule is upset and every patient after that has to wait. Tell them politely that you can help them only if they can uphold their end of the bargain. If necessary, set their appointment 15 minutes ahead of their actual appointment time.

SD: Ask these patients to call when they have the time and the finances to come in. Do not book their appointment in advance, but if they call, and an opening is available that same day, ask them to come in.

DP: Call the patient three days in advance of their appointment. Talk to them live and confirm that they are going to keep their appointment. If you are unable to reach them live, leave a message asking them to call the office to confirm that they will keep the appointment. If you do not hear from them 24 hours prior to the appointment, open the slot up for another appointment.

4. Do not give peak-demand appointment slots (such as early morning, evenings, or Saturdays) to chronic offenders.

Be considerate and reasonable in developing your list of chronic offenders. Patients do have legitimate reasons for canceling appointments, such as a health problem, a real car breakdown, a daycare issue, a death in the family, being called in for overtime work at the last minute, and so forth. Give the patient the benefit of the doubt when possible. Put the patient on this list only if they are habitual cancelers, and take them off the list when their behavior puts them back among the 90% of patients who habitually show up for their appointments - on time.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Peter Gopal, PhD, together with his wife, Hema Gopal, M.B.A. and D.M.D., consults with dentists who are intent on building a more profitable practice. Whether you are leaving money on the table due to broken patient appointments, improper scheduling, poor case acceptance, low hygienist productivity, excessive overhead, or unnecessary reliance on PPOs, they can pinpoint your weaknesses and prescribe remedies. Receive a free, realistic assessment of the earning potential of your dental practice by going to: http://www.visionary-management.com/assessment.php

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Last Distribution Date:
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