Patients cancelling appointments at the last moment, or giving you no notice at all, makes it very difficult for your office to run in a smooth manner. Not only is your scheduling coordinator tasked with finding another slot for those patients, but they must also see if they can fit someone else into the slot at the last moment. Sometimes they can get the job done, but schedulers cannot always find someone to take the timeslot in an appropriate time-frame. And having empty timeslots during the day means you are not being as productive as possible.
1. Do Not Rely on Pre-Appointing
Pre-appointing is an outdated process, because your patients do not know what they are doing in three or four months. They may commit to a date and time down the road, but they are going to cancel if they have other plans that clash with the appointment. It is okay to pre-appoint with patients who have a history of reliability, but you should not engage in such a practice with patients who have one or more no-shows with your establishment.
2. Educate Patients
It is very important to talk about the importance of visiting the doctor or dentist with your patients. These appointment issues are especially worse for dentists, because patients do not always take their appointments seriously. If a patient is ambivalent about their oral health, they are far more likely to skip an appointment without cancelling ahead of time. But you can always educate them about the importance of dentists and their own oral health.
It is very important to schedule appointments with as much detail as possible. Mention the date and time to them on at least two occasions before they leave, and make sure the patient knows about the length of their next session.
4. Confirm Appointments
Not every patient is malevolent when it comes to no-shows and cancelling appointments at inopportune times. Some patients do not remember agreeing to a dentist appointment three months down the road. They may have put it on their calendar, but they may not get a reminder about the appointment until a couple of days before their visit. It is best to contact patients at least a week before their appointment to ensure they are still free and willing to come at the given time.
5. Expanding Hours
If you find there are certain patients who are constantly asking to reschedule, the problem is probably with the patients. But if you have a slew of patients who are giving you the same grief about appointment times, you may want to reconsider your business hours. Always remember that patients have busy lives too. They have jobs, families and errands to run!