7 ideas for reducing no-shows at your dental practice

Late cancellations and no-shows are a thorn in the side of any dental practice. They can cause a major disruption in your workflow and are a significant source of lost profits.

These 7 tips can reduce no-shows and protect your bottom line.

1.    Utilize automated reminders

No-shows are more often a function of forgetfulness than malice. When dental appointments are made months in advance, it’s understandable that some people will get busy and let it slip their mind. An automated reminder system is more reliable and less labor intensive than having front desk staff call patients over the phone. Using software instead of manually contacting patients also allows each patient to customize when and how they’d prefer to receive a reminder.

2.    Decrease waiting room wait time

Your patients are busy. The longer they expect their dental appointment to take, the more likely it is they’ll scratch it from the to-do list on a stressful day. Wait times that exceed 20-30 minutes can frustrate patients and increase no-shows.

3.    Provide discounts for pre-payment

Paying for a dental appointment in advance is a major motivator for remembering to show up-–especially if the pre-payment discount is contingent on keeping the appointment.

4.    Educate patients on the importance of strong oral health

Routine cleanings and checkups are the most commonly missed appointments. Not because patients are scared but because they don’t value the benefits of continued maintenance and care highly enough. Talk to your patients. Make sure they understand how missing an appointment can lead to more serious (and costly) problems down the line.

5.    Look for patterns in which types of patients are most likely to miss an appointment

Identify the usual suspects in your practice so you can better focus your no-show reduction efforts. Follow up with a no-show. Call them within 10 minutes of their appointment time and express some genuine concern about their absence.

6.    Expand your opening hours

Staying open late just one day per week gives busy patients a chance to schedule appointments after the workday has finished. Some people have very demanding jobs that make it hard to predict when they’ll be free for a few hours on any given day. Many patients fully intend to make their appointment until “something comes up” at work. Opening the office for one Saturday per month can produce the same effect.

7.    Back-fill appointments quickly

No matter what you do, some no-shows are bound to happen. Stay one step ahead of the game with software designed to fill no-shows quickly and efficiently. When a no-show occurs, these patients are contacted immediately. Back-filling just 25% of no-shows can make a real difference in reducing opportunity costs in your practice.