Dos and don'ts for practice finance: Laying down the law with no-shows

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No-shows and last-minute cancellations are exactly the same thing -- scheduling killers. They eat up time that can be used for other patients, leading to decreases in production and profitability. Some practices experience a no-show and last-minute cancellation rate of 5% or more each year. Amazingly, that means over a period of 20 years you will lose one entire year's worth of production.

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Eliminate no-shows. Start a six-month retraining program using specific scripts to build value for keeping appointments. If patients continue to cancel, inform them that they will be billed for the missed appointment. In nearly all cases, this is sufficient to alleviate the problem.

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Don't back down. You are losing time when patients fail to present for appointments. Even worse, you are also losing production for patients who could have been treated during that appointment time. To grow your practice, you must bring your no-show rate down to less than 1%.

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