Dos and don'ts for scheduling

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Dealing with no-shows

No-shows and last-minute cancellations take away time that can be used for other patients, leading to decreases in production. Some practices have as high as 5% of their schedule composed of no-shows and last-minute cancellations each year. Over 20 years, you might lose an entire year's worth of production.

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Try to "retrain" no-shows. Start with a six-month retraining program in which specific scripts are used to let patients who either do not show up or cancel at the last minute know that no-shows are no longer acceptable. Make them realize that they will be billed for the appointment missed. This can be done in a positive and tasteful manner while sending a strong message.

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Don't let the problem continue. After retraining, when patients miss two or more appointments in a year, action is necessary. Send a simple letter letting these patients know that the practice is no longer available to provide dental services for them and that they can contact one of the local dental societies for a referral. Such an action may sound harsh, but at this point it must be done.

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