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How to Prevent No-Show Appointments and Fill Empty Chairs

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No-show appointments are problematic and costly for the day-to-day operation of your practice. I’m not telling you something that you don’t already know.

But did you know that broken appointments are the No. 2 cost to running a dental practice? Your No. 1 cost is payroll, which is ironic when you’re paying staff members to treat patients who aren’t there.

In light of payroll costs, as well as fixed costs such as rent and electricity, your practice simply can’t afford to lose appointments. According to figures cited in the Hartford Business Journal, a solo dental practice could save at least $30,000 per year by saving one or two no-shows per day.

“Win-some, lose-some” is for gambling, which doesn’t apply to running a business like your dental practice! It begs the question: What can you do to prevent no-shows?

Communication Is Key

It all comes down to communication, behind the scenes of the office and with your patients.

Let’s start with patient communication. This is paramount to having patients return for treatment and remain proactive about their oral health. Taking time with new patients instills trust and confidence, and acknowledging them in the waiting room is just good customer service.

But of course, time runs short when scheduling conflicts and other practice management complications get in the way. That’s why it’s important to invest in systems that can automate certain tasks for your staff, ensuring that clinicians aren’t pulled away from patients and front desk staff can have that interaction.

Secondly, practices must be proactive with their appointments list and have the ability to easily contact patients and update their status.

Your appointment list should be broken into 3 segments:

  1. 1. ASAP List – These are patients you have marked down as willing to come in as soon as possible for an appointment with little notice required.
  2. 2. Unscheduled List – This list is comprised of broken or “wait/will call” appointments, and helps you locate patients who did not make a recent appointment.
  3. 3. Recall List – This list allows you to easily find patients due for their next routine recall visit.

A third way to make sure your empty chair is filled: Go digital with your tracking system and stay actionable. Convert any paper lists, sticky notes, or excel tables to an electronic system accessible by any staff member. This will greatly simplify your staff’s ability to track patients of record in need of appointments, and will allow you to update their status in real time. Now all the scheduling information you need is just a few clicks away.

An Easy Solution

If you’re looking to raise the bar on managing appointments, consider Henry Schein Easy Dental. This dental schedule management software gives practices the tools they need to simplify the complexities of maintaining a productive practice, keeping schedules and chairs full, and increasing production.

Easy Dental allows practices to manage their ASAP, Unscheduled, and Recall lists with just a few clicks. Both on-screen and printable reports can be generated from the module, accommodating staff members who still prefer a printed list.

One of the most useful features of Easy Dental is its Unscheduled Treatment Plans Report, which generates a list of patients to contact who have delayed treatment for one reason or another. The user can select the date range associated to show procedures that were treatment planned within the time frame specified. With this report, appointment lists are enhanced with actionable insights.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to contact a patient for an unscheduled treatment and know exactly what their last procedure was that prompted follow-up? That’s being proactive, building good relationships, and educating patients on why they need to return!

Learn more about Easy Dental’s schedule management and other useful tools by visiting

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