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New Patients Are No-Shows


Dear Sharyn

My new patients are no-showing for their appointments. I am so booked out that new patients are waiting 5 months to get into my office. And then, perhaps because they have waited so long, many of these patients no-show their appointments. My front desk team text the patient one week before to ask them if they are still coming, and then call if the patient hasn’t confirmed. Is there anything else we can do so these patients keep their appointments?

A.S., Ohio

Dear A.S.,

Think about how Disney manages long lines. They design the park to keep folks engaged and willing to wait. Your office needs to establish and maintain a connection to these patients so that they will commit to their appointments.

  1. During the waiting period, have your front desk team periodically send relevant brochures, articles or newsletters to these waiting patients.  Send them links to polls or online contests.  Invite them to subscribe your practice’s Facebook page. You can even mail branded items such as lip balms, water bottles or toothbrushes.  If you are a pediatric dentist, send out a coloring book page for the kids to complete.
  • Instead of texting the patient and hoping they will respond, the front desk team should call the new patient one week prior with an assumptive message and a request for the patient’s action.  An assumptive message means that you assume the patient is coming – so there is another reason for your call.  “We’re looking forward to seeing you next Wed at your first appt with us. We do have some important questions regarding your medical history that we will need answered before you come in. Please call me by tomorrow at 5:00pm.
  • The night before the appointment, the dentist should call the new patient to welcome them to the practice.  This will immediately establish a personal connection and will make it harder for the patient to no-show.
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Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

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