Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Understanding the Reasons Behind Missed Appointments


Last week I wrote about a couple of different ways to handle missed appointments in your office. This week, let’s talk about some of the reasons why patients may miss appointments. Missed appointments can be costly for your practice. Not only do they cause lost production, but you are still paying overhead costs, like staff wages, with no production being generated to offset those costs.

If you can come up with solutions to these problems, you can reduce the number of missed appointments in your office. Here are some ideas of why patients may miss appointments, as well as some possible solutions:

Ineffective Communication

If your office is only leaving a voicemail on a patient’s home phone number, this may not be an effective way to confirm appointments. Consider using a service like Dentrix Patient Engage which offers alternate ways to confirm patient appointments via text message and e-mail reminders which are more convenient for your patients.

Unenforced Policies

In last week’s post, I mentioned having a clear written policy to communicate with patients the ramifications of missed appointments, such as a missed appointment fee. It’s important to have these policies in place, and to train your team to enforce them. If your administrative staff allows patients to cancel appointments without repercussions, it will undermine your policy. Train your team to be firm and professional when a patient calls to cancel an appointment. They need to reiterate the office policy to the patient and post missed appointments to the patient’s Ledger. With that being said, life does happen. Your administrative team should be compassionate in extenuating circumstances like a patient’s car breaking down or having a serious illness.

Under-valued Time

If you expect patients to respect your practice’s busy schedule, then you should extend your patients the same courtesy. Always strive to stay on schedule for your patients. You can’t expect them to show up on time and keep their appointments if you don’t do the same. 

Despite your best efforts, you will still have last-minute cancellations. As a way to combat this, keep a current ASAP List to fill those open time slots quickly. Add appointments to the ASAP List by changing the Schedule type in the Appointment Information dialog box in the Appointment Book.

Reducing missed appointments in your office can result in higher production for your practice. Understanding why patients are missing appointments and addressing these issues can help to resolve the problem. If you have questions on this topic or others, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

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