No-Shows = Production Killers

Dental Practice Production It’s Monday morning and your team is gathered for the Morning Huddle. Each goes through their reports and all agree that the schedule looks perfect! Your front desk has met their scheduling goal, as have all providers. There are no openings in the schedule and everyone is ready to roll. Your team is even up for a team high-five today! You are off and running. But what happens? The infamous NO-SHOW BOMBS start dropping. It hits hygiene first…second…third!!! The final bomb takes out your most productive appointment of the day!

By 3:00 your anxiety overrides logic and you start thinking: I won’t be able to make payroll; my patients are dropping out of my practice like flies; I will need to borrow more money; do I need to fire the front desk team members that I high-fived this morning?

No-Show Bombs are production killers; we all know and feel every day. Just one no-show on the hygiene side per day adds up to a loss of at least $25,000 per year, and a one hour no-show per day on the doctor side at least $116,000 per year! In other words, A LOT of money! It is definitely something that must be controlled, but how? You certainly can’t handcuff your patients and transport them to your office, so how? Here are a few important ways to help reduce those killer No-Show Bombs.

  1. Run on time! If you make them wait, they perceive you aren’t respecting their time and they feel free to “return the favor”.
  2. Develop your team’s chairside appointment presentation: No-shows are not a front desk problem; they are a team problem. Patients who do not understand the importance or urgency of the services you recommend will end up being a no-show bomb. When recommending appointments, always focus on creating urgency by stressing the health risks of waiting and the benefits of doing the procedure sooner rather than later.
  3. Review, revise, develop and write down your Patient Confirmation System: Ask your front desk to write down in detail the Patient Confirmation System they currently follow. Have them present it at a team meeting in order for everyone to discuss what is working, what is not working, and what might work better. Be sure to create systems to educate your patients on how your practice expects them to change their appointments and the consequences (to them, not you) of not showing up for a scheduled appointment.
  4. Set the goal for no-shows at 5%: Include in your Monthly Monitors how many minutes were lost to no-show appointments and how much it cost the practice. Calculate your no-show percentage. Share this with the team so they understand if the practice is hitting their goals or not.
  5. Hire middleware: The large majority of patients want to receive texts, rather than phone calls, about their appointments. There are many companies that will handle this type of communication with your patients. Some potential providers are SolutionReach, Lighthouse 360, RevenueWell and DemandForce. They are valuable services!
  6. Avoid moving patients’ appointments without their prior permission: Every patient scheduling an appointment should be asked, “If an appointment opens sooner, would you like us to contact you?” Only then do you have permission to move their appointment. Plan your days off at least six months ahead of time to avoid having to move patients around in the schedule!
  7. Contact your absent patient 10 minutes into their appointment. If your patient thinks you don’t even notice they are not there, they won’t worry about being late or not showing up to their appointments. Why? Because they think you are so busy you don’t even know they aren’t there. Let them know you are worried about them and get them back on the schedule, but no sooner than one month.

There is no one “magic bullet” but a network of many actions you must take to reduce your no-show appointments. Be proactive and don’t ignore this huge revenue leak.

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