Plan for Broken Appointments

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Nobody on your team wants to deal with last-minute cancellations and no-shows. Broken appointments send your practice into a panic, as the Scheduling Coordinator does her best to find someone to take the open slots. If she can’t, the chances of you meeting daily production goals are pretty slim.

Just like you plan for practice success, you also have to plan for problems that wreak havoc on your day, such as broken appointments. If you’re prepared, it’s much easier to find patients who actually want to take the openings, keeping the added stress on your day to a minimum. With a little planning, it’s also possible to reduce the number of broken appointments you have each day. Here are my tips:

Make a list. This is the best way to find patients to fill those last-minute openings. Keep an updated list of patients who are flexible or who are interested in an earlier appointment time and then contact these patients when you find yourself with an opening.

Establish a policy. Communicate your broken appointment policy with new patients and every time an existing patient schedules an appointment. When they know you have a policy, they’re less likely to flake out.

Flag unreliable patients. If a patient has a history of not showing up for appointments, don’t schedule that patient months in advance. Instead, politely tell the patient you’ll call him when you have an opening.

Follow up. Call any patients who miss an appointment 10 minutes after they were supposed to be in the chair. This gives you the opportunity to reschedule the appointment, as well as to educate patients about the importance of regular visits to the dentist.

Broken appointments are both frustrating and costly. Put a plan in place to reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows you deal with each day and to handle unexpected openings when they come up. Your days will be less stressful and you’ll start meeting production goals.