When patients won’t confirm their appointments

Patients that don’t confirm their appointments add unwanted stress to your dental practice and might disrupt workflow for an entire day.

Here are a few ideas for what to do when emails, phone calls, messages and texts have been ignored.

Analyze patient history

If the patient in question has been reliable in the past, it’s generally best to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they’ve cancelled at the last minute or have been a no show before, it’s OK to let them know their appointment will be cancelled if they don’t message back and confirm. This is why it’s important for your front-end team to keep track of patients who are late or skip appointments.

How long is the appointment?

A patient that does not show for a checkup and cleaning is unlikely to ruin your day but if it’s for a two- to three-hour treatment, it could be an issue. The longer the appointment the better it is to err on the side of confirming. Try to give the patient a reasonable time to respond when sending out a final warning that the appointment may be cancelled if not confirmed.

Educate your patients

You can educate patients on the importance of confirming appointments at the time the appointment is made. Explain why you need to hear back from them and why you may need to book in another patient into their time slot should they fail to confirm.

Ask for a deposit from repeat offenders

Taking a deposit for treatment is a great way to combat missed appointments. Deposits can be optional, in the form of a small prepayment discount, or mandatory for patients who have missed several appointments in the past.

Stop pre-booking the usual suspects

Patients who habitually disregard their appointment times can be more trouble than they’re worth. When all else fails, inform repeat offenders that should they miss one more appointment they’ll only be able to come in for same day openings when another patient has canceled.