An Innovative Solution to Address Late Patient Cancellations

In recent times, dental practices, much like many other service-based industries, have encountered a surge in the occurrence of late patient cancellations. The impact of the COVID-19 situation has exacerbated this issue, presenting significant challenges for dental professionals across Australia. Late cancellations not only disrupt the daily schedule but also result in lost revenue and inefficiencies within the practice.

Ensuring that your dental practice is doing all it can to reduce broken appointments is important and a wonderful resource to help you with this can be found in our Lunch & Learn from The Club membership library HERE. However, if despite your best efforts your practice is still suffering from a high volume of late cancellations, then exploring innovative solutions like offering financial incentives to patients willing to fill gaps in the schedule might be worth trying.

This innovative approach was highlighted to me after a conversation with a hairdresser, and I believe it is worth considering for dental practices grappling with similar issues. Traditional methods aimed at minimising cancellations may not achieve the desired results in the current landscape. Therefore, exploring new strategies is imperative to maintain operational efficiency and ensure optimal patient care.

The idea to explore is offering discounts or incentives to patients who agree to fill last-minute appointment slots. By leveraging financial incentives, practices can incentivise patients to adjust their schedules, reducing the likelihood of late cancellations.

For instance, dental practices could implement a system where patients who agree to fill gaps in the schedule receive a discount on their treatment. Offering a monetary incentive, such as a $100 discount on their treatment, serves as a token of appreciation for their flexibility and willingness to accommodate the practice’s needs. And, which patient wouldn’t love and appreciate $100 off their treatment? You might even maintain a list of patients who request to be contacted for earlier appointments in case of late cancellations, providing an easy and powerful system for productive scheduling. Another benefit is that your practice is also subtly conveying to your patients that late cancellations are something your practice actively seeks to minimise, thereby fostering their commitment to future appointments.

Moreover, introducing a cancellation fee can further deter patients from breaking appointments at the last minute. By imposing a fee of $100, practices can offset the financial losses incurred due to late cancellations. This not only serves as a disincentive for patients but also helps maintain a balance in the practice’s revenue.