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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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One Tip to Reduce Last Minute Cancellations

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

March 12, 2015

Doctor, do you know what happens when a patient calls last minute to cancel their appointment?        (Please click on the above video to hear One Tip to Reduce Cancellations)

I am certain that you probably have a protocol, but do you know what is truly said when a patient calls to cancel?

I was observing in an office last week and I saw and over heard the front office team member pick up the phone. She listened to the patient and her response was only to say “OK!” End of the conversation!

The team member then deleted the patient appointment from the schedule on the computer.

How many times has this happened in your office?

I imagine it happens every week that a patient calls to cancel last minute.

Today, I bring just one tip that may help to reduce cancellations.

Yes! There are true emergency situations that arise but how does the team follow up when someone calls to cancel?

Is that patient deleted from the schedule and that is the end of the story?

I see things like this happen all the time when I am doing an observation in an office.

The proper protocol to keep you patients coming back is to:

  • Ask the patient what you can do to help them keep their appointment
  • Offer to help solve their current situation that keeps them from coming in that day or week

> Does the patient need a babysitter or do they need a taxi?

> It does happen occasionally (GOD FORBID!) that there is a serious emergency. (In this situation, always call to follow up in 24 hrs. Check on your patient with an serious emergency!Never just delete them from the schedule – out of sight – out of mind!)

If your patient must cancel, be sure to schedule a next visist and if the patient doesn’t have a good excuse definitely do not reschedule them the very next day!

Patients who don’t feel dentistry and their oral health is important are the ones most likely to cancel last minute.

  • Do you have a cancellation policy? And do patients read and sign this?

Add value to your patients about why they need to return to the dental office. Do they have high blood pressure, heart disease AND periodontal disease? Does this patient understand the link between their oral health and how optimal oral health will most likely halt systemic diseases. Much research is available to show oral health can reverse systemic diseases such as diabetes.(1)

One more system we have seen work well to keep patients from cancelling last minute is to offer Lifetime Whitening.

Next week I will provide another video to help reduce cancellations.

For more information on LifeTime Whitening please view the 13 minute video. LIFETIME WHITENING VIDEO

What type of challenges does your office have regarding last minute cancellations? Please comment below so I can provide suggestions to overcome this epidemic in the dental office.